At age 19, Braden Bennie found himself working at Credit Suisse First Boston in New York City. The co-op opportunity was unique for a freshman, but a freshman summer internship is an integral part of College of Business' Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS program.
According to Braden, it put him "ahead of the game." Before he graduated from the five-year program in 2007, Braden had accumulated a total of two years of professional work experience through UC's nationally renowned co-op program.
Braden clearly feels that his decision to attend UC was a life-altering one. He and his 24 Honors-PLUS classmates each received annually-renewable, merit scholarships that covered their tuition and fees.
"Going to school virtually for free is very attractive," says Braden. "It is wonderful to not have to go into debt or worry about where the money for college is coming from. Being on scholarship gives me the freedom to focus on my studies and be involved in campus activities."
An important and time-consuming aspect of Honors-PLUS is the community service requirement. Braden and four of his classmates became involved in Project Safeplace, an initiative that provides safe haven to runaways and other youth at risk of abuse, neglect and family problems. Project Safeplace has "fallen through the cracks" in recent years and Braden and his volunteer team are charged with initiating contact with the 115 local businesses previously designated as safe places, recruiting new businesses to become involved, and training the employees of participating businesses how to respond when a troubled child comes in seeking help.
Although the UC Honors-PLUS program has only been in existence for six years, it has already developed a fine reputation. It admits only students who have demonstrated superior academic and leadership skills and are highly motivated to succeed, and Braden is no exception. He has no regrets whatsoever about his decision to forsake a prestigious East Coast education to stay in Cincinnati and enroll in Honors-PLUS.
Braden has always wanted to pursue a career in business. His plans are to put his finance major to use as a portfolio manager or stock broker upon graduation with the hope of eventually moving into upper level management. Braden says that he grew up in a family that taught him to "give back and help open doors for those in need." For now, Braden's philanthropic endeavors consist of donating time and energy. But he looks forward to a day when he is financially successful enough to put his name on a UC scholarship endowment.