Ben Gajewski  |  Class of 2007

Posted on Thu, Jul 11, 2013

As a high school student, Ben selected Geneseo as his first-choice college
He was interested in liberal arts (sociology major, environmental studies minor). He wanted a college with a strong reputation. Coming from nearby Canandaigua, he loved the valley and landscape.

Yet subconsciously, there may have been another motivating factor. He knew he’d continue a family tradition at Geneseo, following his grandmother, Doris Chriswell ’50; father, Andrew ’72; and mother, Beth ’77.

What he didn’t know is how tightly Geneseo — the college and the village — would draw him in. Or how both would keep him connected years after he graduated.

Now executive director of the Geneseo Valley Conservancy, Gajewski also serves as vice president of the Association for the Preservation of Geneseo board of trustees and an elected member on the Village Board. In these roles, he is maintaining community tradition and planning for generations.

“[Associate Professor of Sociology] Kurt Cylke is the sole reason that I am still here. He brought me into the community by engaging me with the preservation board. I’m lucky to have known him as a student and fortunate to now work with him on community projects.

People asked me to run for the Village Board in 2010 and I said, ‘No, I’m just out of school, starting a new job, still trying to figure out my career.’ Then they came back and asked again in 2012.

I thought, ‘I’m here in Geneseo — there’s no point in denying it: This is my home, I have connections and really, where else would I want to be?’”