Photo by Victor Beck ’20 | Andre Bengston ’19, finalist for The Roundup‘s Man of the Year award, poses for a photo outside of Romley Hall.
By Hayden Welty ’19
Andre Bengston ’19 has been chosen as one of the three Class of 2019 Man of the Year Finalists.
Mr. Mike Welty ’83, who taught Bengston as a sophomore in Advanced Placement Seminar, said that the best thing about him is his energy and enthusiasm .
“The first words that come to mind when I think of Andre are compassion and passion,” Mr. Welty said.
He said that Bengston started to look around at injustices and committed to making a difference in them in his sophomore year.
“A lot of guys are sort of open ended in high school… Andre has blown past all of that to what it is he really wants to do with his life, which is he really wants to dedicate it to righting wrongs and fighting for justice,” Mr. Welty said. “I don’t know he exactly knows how he’s going to make all that happen, but it’s the idea that that’s really what he wants to do that I find most impressive.”
Mr. Welty also said that after he attended the Ignatian Family Teach In (IFTJ) through Brophy, which Bengston has now done for two consecutive years, the trip opened up a whole new world for him.
“I think [IFTJ] has impacted what he wants to do,” he said. “His AP Research project with me was about diversity and equity in high schools, and he researched the Jesuit high schools across the country to look at how their test scores correspond with their level of diversity that they had in their communities; he designed a diversity index based on what a couple of PHDs had done.”
Mr. Will Rutt ’08, who knows Bengston as a result of many social justice initiatives and as his teacher in Honors Ignatian Encounter during junior year, said that he was impressed by Bengston‘s willingness to ask tough questions, lean into tension and go to places of discomfort. He also said that he was impressed with Bengston’s leadership, particularly during his junior year in Kino Teens.
“He took a Kino Teens Club that was essentially nonexistent, not active, and just pumped it full of energy and direction, so he has been integral in creating an environment where people are excited to go to that club, and, too, that they’re active on campus,” he said.
Mr. Rutt also said he appreciates the fact that Bengston has a unique ability to empower people around him.
“I’ve felt supported by him,” he said. “I think I have confided in him a number of times about frustrations that I have about Brophy, about certain things that happen on campus, certain structures on campus, and he’s always so affirming and supportive and positive and encouraging and also empathic.”
In Advocacy Club, Mr. Rutt identified Bengston as a true ally to some of Bengston’s good friends who are undocumented.
“He has this innate ability to get out of the way and support from behind and allow them to shine, share their story, and be at the center of things––as they should be––and to never feel slighted for it, to always be positive and supportive,” he said.
In Brophy Culture Project, too, Mr. Rutt identifies him as a solid leader in myriad capacities. He also said he looks forward to when Bengstongraduates.
“He’s just wonderful to be around, talk to, and spend time with,” he said. “I feel like [our relationship] is pretty collaborative right now, but I’m even more excited for him not to be a student, so I can enter in collaboration deeper with him because I think there’s a potential that he becomes an educator, potentially moves into Jesuit education and does some really incredibly things to challenge these spaces and make them better.”
Bengston said that he is just happy to be a part of the Brophy community.
“I’m just happy to see all the great things people on campus are doing,” he said. “Picking Magis awards, or even the senior bests, was really really hard because there are so many great guys on this campus, and even if they’re not super outgoing, you know they’re doing great things,” he said. “I feel like I’m lucky to be here and be a part of it because Brophy is such an amazing place.”