Ben Jankowski '09
Senior history major and theater arts fixture Ben Jankowski grew up across the harbor from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, a primary site for submarine construction from World War II through the Cold War.
Ever since his childhood, it’s a place that has slowly insinuated itself into his life. With its sloping submarine hides, choppy tide and sloppy grey skies, the shipyard stands as a symbol of and testament to Ben's intense interest in the sea, as a solo sailor with his own small boat he calls home, and through his work as an historian with a budding career as a local researcher.
While digging through archives at the Naval Shipyard Museum over the summer, Ben found a diary dating back to the 1930s, a document that has become a source for an historical seminar project. “It happens that I work at a state park in the summer time and there are a bunch of veterans who are retired shipyard employees who hang out there,” he says. “It was interesting to take their personal stories and line them up to what is in the journal.”
The project focuses on the Portsmouth community, a topic Ben finds intriguing. “Everybody seemed to have this common sense of pride,” he says. “Social history is interesting to me, I think more than anything else. Not everyone lives in a town with that kind of history.”
Ben has been the technical director for the theater department since he came to GMC four years ago. He will be directing his third feature in May, a production of Little Shop of Horrors. “It’s not my favorite show in the world,” he says, “but we’ve never done a big musical here, and everyone has always wanted to.”
In addition to his interest in history and theater, Ben has brought his sense of proud service to the GMC community. He is currently involved in two campus greening fund projects: one that uses environmentally friendly, low-flow showerheads to minimize hot water use, and the other is to get the compost program earth tubs repaired and a shed built to house the dry matter.
When pressed for insight into his future plans, Ben says, “I wouldn’t mind a big sailing trip, up to Canada or all the way down to the Caribbean... I’d love to do that... I’m pretty much doing all the things I was doing ten years ago.”