Benjamin Navarro – Grace College – Kosciusko By Choice
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Kosciusko County – A Place of Diversity and Opportunity
“Few people will imagine a Midwest small town having the diversity that we have. But you will encounter different cultures, different languages, different festivals, and different celebrations in our community,” said Ben Navarro, Director for Latino Engagement at Grace College.
The reason Ben, his wife, and two kids ended up in Kosciusko County was because Grace College was looking for a professor to teach Spanish, which is what Ben was doing in Buenos Aires, Argentina at the time. Originally, they thought the move was only going to be short term, for a couple of years. But once they started working in and getting involved with the community in Kosciusko County, they felt that Kosciusko was becoming their true home.
“One of my favorite locations here, of course, are the lakes. I love the outdoors. I love spending time with people, whether it be playing games, playing soccer by the lake, or even just enjoying a meal with my friends. I think it is those parts that reminds me a lot of my own home.”
The school systems in the area were also a huge contributing factor in the Navarro family’s decision to stay in Kosciusko County.
“Something else that contributed to our stay was the excellent school systems that we have in place in Kosciusko County. That is something that for us was very important to find schools with quality education, where my children will not just be successful, learn, and grow, but where they can be accepted and thrive and where they can learn how to contribute to the community.”
Opportunities at Grace College
Grace College is a small liberal arts college located in Winona Lake which offers over 70 majors and 100 minors in the liberal arts. Ben’s career centers around recruiting and retaining Latino students, advocating for them, and helping them achieve their dream of higher education. He is also involved in the community in a variety of ways to help advocate for the Latino community.
“We were created to interact with others, to live in community, especially for us Latinos. We define ourselves; we see our identity tied to our surroundings, family, our community, and our churches. So, for us, giving back to the community is very important.” Ben described the importance of community involvement.
The opportunity Grace College offers for students to complete their degree in three years is very attractive to many students, according to Ben. Plus, Kosciusko County offers high quality opportunities for furthering your career and expanding your education.
“We are uniquely positioned in terms of technology, educational opportunities, and also the concentration of high-end technological industries in our county, putting our county in a privileged place.” Ben said.
Grace College is known for its community and welcoming environment, and tries to live up to its name, Grace, according to Ben.
“I think one of the main characteristics of our campus is that we are a welcoming campus. Most of our visitors will comment on how welcoming we are, how accepting we are.”
Ben’s Vision For the Future of Kosciusko County
Ben ended his interview with a strong vision for the future of Kosciusko County.
“All of us can come together and be moved to transformation and translate the discussions on the table into actions. I picture Kosciusko County as being a model county of integration, acceptance, working together, welcoming, and embracing each other, learning to see our differences not as something to be erased, not as something to be weaponized, but to see our differences as something to be enjoyed, something that can contribute to the betterment of our community, not as a threat, but to celebrate our differences in order to build for the future generations.”
Kosciusko By Choice
Kosciusko by Choice is an on-going video series highlighting the stories of individuals who have chosen to make their home in Kosciusko County. Stay tuned for the next video in the series!