Home Folks at Noke Folk of ‘Noke: Bennet Franz

Folk of ‘Noke: Bennet Franz

by Chamberlain Zulauf

Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, half of Bennet Franz’s attraction to the Salem Valley was how different it was from his hometown.

“Roanoke is a beautiful location… taking advantage of that— going hiking, skiing, getting to do some of that up here is super fun. All my favorite memories have to do with being outside on free days here and just hanging out with people, throwing the Frisbee, hammocking, all those things. Salem is just a really good spot for those sorts of relationships and interactions,” said Bennet.

The other major attraction for Bennet was that Roanoke was one of the few colleges in America offering a Public Health undergraduate major at the time. Bennet wanted to focus on the community side of medicine, choosing Public Health instead of a more traditional pre-med major. 

“Lots of people love the basic sciences, and I enjoy them for sure, but I wanted to get a different perspective on the field”, said Bennet.

“Public health is one of the reasons I chose to come here in the first place… there’s lots of room for flexibility and growth within the program. It’s been great and I’ve really enjoyed my major and the opportunities I’ve had.”

After graduation, Bennet will be going to medical school either back in Louisiana at LSU, or at the University of Miami. “MD programs are four-year degrees after college, so I’ll do about two years of pre-clinical sciences, and then spend two years learning hands-on in the hospital,” said Bennet.

Having just wrapped up his tenure as the Biology Club President this past fall semester, Bennet has also been involved with Student Health and Counseling as a peer educator. This past fall semester Bennet studied in Washington D.C. as part of Roanoke’s Washington Semester program. While in D.C., he completed an internship with the National Hispanic Medical Association.

Also notable is the independent study Bennet has worked on with Dr Shannon Anderson about food insecurity on campus,  “the ultimate goal has been to design a program that we can implement on campus that will serve students who may be facing food insecurity,” said Bennet. One proposed idea is a communal meal swipe bank which students can donate extra swipes to. Bennet has always been one to lend a helping hand, finding joy in being involved and meeting new people, “A piece of advice I’d have for other Maroons is to be intentional with your time here. It moves really quick, and making sure that you’re investing in relationships and getting good experiences is what this place is about and what it’s designed to help you do. So, make sure you take full advantage of that… I don’t ever want to look back and feel like I should have given something more effort. So go for it and give it your best shot,” said Bennet.

Over his four years at ‘Noke Bennet has become more confident and outgoing – work hard play hard is a motto by which he could live. One thing in particular Bennet is looking forward to is the return of Prez. Ball after two long years,

“I think it’ll be good. I loved Prez. Ball freshmen and sophomore year and I’m excited to see how they pull it off this year. I was talking with some people about doing it in Cregger and I’m excited to see how that turns out. I think if they do it right, it will be really great. I’m excited for it to be a good time for everyone,” said Bennet.  

One of Bennet’s all-time favorite Roanoke memories is hitting up a rope swing on the side of a highway his sophomore year, “We went out there with a few friends. And it was just good quality fun. Being outside in the fall with great people – you just can’t go wrong,” said Bennet.