The secret is out. Current Associated Students of Western Nevada President Benjamin Miller became involved in student government at Western Nevada College so he could wear the Willy the Wildcat mascot costume.
He won’t deny it. And he’s really proud of it.
“I come from sort of a performing background … both my mom and dad are involved with music and acting so I always wondered what it would be like,” said Miller, a graduate of Carson High School who is in his second year at WNC. “I never got the chance in high school, never had the chance in middle school. I finally had the chance here. I was only taking three classes and working a part-time job so I figured I’d go for it.”
After serving as a representative for ASWN last school year, Miller decided to take the step up and assume the role of president for the 2019-20 school year. Miller was appointed president in September.
“Since I have been with ASWN the longest out of all of our members, it was most convenient and effective for me to go for the position. Not to say the rest of our members are inexperienced, but I want to make it as easy for them as possible to contribute what they can and not have the stress of having to be in the presidential position,” he said.
Miller has appreciated the dedication and hard work of ASWN’s other officers. Gabrielle Clark is serving as vice president and Addison Fredeen, Desirae Blunt-Lamkey, Yamillen Castillo and Diana Enriquez-Alanis are performing the roles of senators.
“As soon as the rest of our student body either graduated or transferred, it sort of left me and my associate, Addison, to fill in the gaps, and we have plenty of members from Fallon, all of them dedicated and hard workers,” Miller said. “Gabby has shown tremendous dedication to this school. I really appreciate her. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them. They are the best team. I couldn’t ask for better, and the same with (ASWN adviser and Student Life Coordinator) Heather (Rikalo).”
He said becoming part of ASWN changed him and his life last year.
“It was fun. We did all sorts of things. We put on our Haunted House, we had food drives,” Miller said. “I found that as soon as I joined, I started noticing all these changes in my life: I was more responsible, I was more empathetic toward people, I was willing to smile more in public, even in settings where it wasn’t necessary.”
Now that he has the smile down, that doesn’t mean that Miller is destined for a career in politics. He is pursuing his associate degree in graphic design but would like to help those less fortunate.
“I don’t have much interest in politics, but hope to one day open a successful homeless and food bank shelter in the Carson City area,” he said. “I’d like to think the biggest changes are the ones made by an individual who has a goal, not by politicians who just want to make the majority happy.”
As president, he has a few goals in mind for the 2019-20 school year:
“Ultimately, my goal would be to bring back sports teams, but that would require a tremendous amount of money,” he said. “My next goal would be to bring more counseling and therapeutic services for students. Personally, I have met so many students who are afraid of failure or people who feel so skeptical that they might not be able to do what they really want to do.”
Whenever he can, Miller encourages other students on campus to become involved with ASWN or other campus organizations.
“I tell anyone who I think has the slightest amount of free time, ‘Hey, if you ever want to make a little extra money or you feel like giving back to the college, or if you need something to give you that motivation consistently, then join student government, where we are always taking new members and it’s a really fulfilling experience,’” Miller said.
When he concludes his presidency in the spring, Miller would like to think he made a difference for the students on campus. He has walked in their shoes and even filled the large shoes of an anonymous, fury animal with whiskers.
“It’s a strange feeling being in that costume, I’ll admit, but if it makes the little kids happy and brings the spirit up for all the students, then it’s worth it,” Miller said. “You have to give out so many high-fives, hugs, fist bumps, wave to people and at times do cartwheels. I don’t know who it is now. It’s a secret that only Heather knows.”
By joining ASWN, Miller gave up any anonymity he once had on campus, and that’s fine with him.