Benjamin Lachelt ’20 places heavy importance on his surroundings.
Lachelt left the mountains and canyons of Durango, Colorado, in pursuit of an education through the University of Redlands’ Johnston Center for Integrative Studies. With an emphasis in urban studies, geography, and anthropology, Lachelt studies cities, from the planning and development processes to the current state of metropolitan areas and whether or not people enjoy inhabiting them.
“I’m from a rural area and I have always been fascinated with urban places,” he says. “Cities are epicenters of thought, and we have the power to affect how people live by designing and reorienting city spaces. From a structural standpoint, we can help people live the way they want with efficient and effective design.”
Lachelt is a community assistant in the basement of Bekins Hall, a position that allows him to witness and influence how students live within the Johnston community. Previously, Lachelt worked with the Associated Students of the University of Redlands (ASUR) to plan events on campus, including a lecture given by Nick Martini, a professional skier and film director. “Building relationships across campus has been very rewarding—I enjoy having agency in the place where I live,” says Lachelt.
Emphasizing the vitality of Johnston’s living and learning community, Lachelt says that professors play important roles as advisors and mentors in the lives of Johnston students: “Most of the Johnston professors embody the principles of the living and learning community. They’re advocates and confidants for students and have been willing to help me pursue a variety of experiences. Kelly Hankin is my advisor and taught my first-year seminar; I love her advising style—she always makes me feel more relaxed about the class-selection process.”
Lachelt notes that the freedom and responsibility he is given in his education have been a highlight during his time at the University of Redlands. “I went through a few emphases before settling on urban studies,” he says. “The integrative model of the Johnston Center allows me to explore questions that I have about education as a whole, rather than find a solitary answer.”
Lachelt is looking forward to embarking on an urban studies-focused study abroad trip, which will take him to New York City, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Cape Town. “The collaboration between the Study Abroad office and Johnston has allowed me to pursue knowledge and education in a way that is extremely meaningful to me,” he says.
The University of Redlands’ small community is what Lachelt values the most. “When I walk around campus, I always see people I know,” he says. “I like that people know me and see value in me here.”