Shelby Benn '21

Photo of Shelby Benn ‘21

  • Business Administration major with a double minor in Political Science and Supply Chain Management

  • Junior from Lansing, Illinois

  • Student Government President

  • Bearcat Football Team

  • Named to the Dean’s List

  • Member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, McKendree Community Action Team (McCAT), and Environmental Awareness committee

By Stephanie (Coartney) Dulaney '10

On the football field, his teammates often greet him with a “Hey Mr. President!” Shelby Benn ’21 is only halfway through his time as an undergrad, but he has already made a name for himself as a leader with a list of accomplishments that’s almost as long as his ideas for the future.

Shelby Benn ‘21 at Homeless Outreach

One of the youngest Student Government Presidents to be elected at McKendree, Shelby first took on the role as a sophomore. He was motivated by his passion for important issues like diversity, safety, and student mental health. “As a freshman, I was heavily involved in Student Government proposing and planning events,” he said. “After that year, I decided if I wanted to make great change, it might be a good idea to do it as president of the organization.” Shelby’s enthusiasm was infectious, and he was elected at the end of his first year.

In addition to the close-knit family he found among his football teammates, Shelby soon discovered the endless channels McKendree offered to grow his leadership abilities and bring his creative ideas to life. As Student Government President, he improved student safety by working with the Mayor of Lebanon to fix street lights near the McKendree West apartments. He also directed more funding to the campus Health Services’ flu shot campaign, in which they broke the record for most flu shots given away in recent history. Hosting a major event during Global Awareness Week and donating nearly $2,000 to local homeless shelters rounded out the year for Student Government under Shelby’s leadership.

At the same time that he was giving back to the McKendree community, Shelby was also donating his time to others outside campus. He helped coordinate homeless outreach efforts and spent time building relationships with local nursing home residents and adults with disabilities.

Quotation Graphic"Growing up, my parents raised me to give back and to pay it forward. When you feel blessed, try to help bless others with your presence because you might just change their life."

Now in his second term as Student Government President, Shelby has his sights set on even more new opportunities to make a difference. He plans to head fundraising efforts for two new campus monuments commemorating McKendree’s first female graduate, Edith Flint, and first African American graduate, Mamie Turner.

Shelby’s endless drive makes leadership look easy, but he notes that everyone needs help to accomplish their goals. That help came for him as soon as he became a Bearcat. “I will tell any person wanting to take a leadership role but nervous to take a risk, step out of your shell,” he said. “Find a friend that will join you so you can feel comfortable. Ask another person in a leadership role the questions that you have about yourself and see how they overcame them. Being a good leader is not an easy task, but you need to be accountable, dependable, and relatable.”

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