As a kid, Ben Ludlow ’23 returned empty bottles and soda cans and saved the nickels in a jar, using those nickels to open a savings account and CD. He was 8 years old and already saving for college.
“I always knew I wanted to go,” remembers Ludlow. “Very often I would make deposits in amounts less than $10, with pennies and dimes included.”
One of eight siblings, Ludlow knew he would have to fund his degree. He continued his savings plan, working throughout the years as a burger-flipper, landscaper and lifeguard. Last summer, he ran a farm stand at his family’s Geneseo home, with vegetables he grew at home.
As a senior accounting major and member of Geneseo’s Blue Wave swim team, Ludlow often has 7 a.m. weightlifting workouts, as well as a full course load.
“There is a lot of time dedicated to practice,” says Ludlow about balancing his responsibilities, “but I’ve been doing it a long time. It’s the core of who I am.”
His hard work in the pool and in academics has paid off. This May, he’ll graduate with a bachelor’s degree and several swim accolades. During the 2021-22 season, Ludlow earned the SUNYAC conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Swimmer of the Year. He was the 2022 All-American in the 200-meter butterfly event and broke three Geneseo school records as a solo competitor and part of a relay team. And it was his first year competing on the team.
“At SUNYACS, during the 200-meter butterfly event, the entire team was on their feet cheering me on as I swam the best race of my life and qualified for the national team with my teammate, who I barely beat,” Ludlow says. “It was incredible. Everyone congratulated me on my race, including Blue Wave alumni, who had been watching in the stands.”
Q: Why do you love swimming?
A: “I love it because of the people. I’ve met most of my friends through swimming. Outside of practice, my Blue Wave teammates and I do a lot of things together. Having teammates to study with had a huge impact on my grades. Senior accounting students on the swim team tutored me when I didn’t understand the difficult accounting material. I love being part of the team.”
Q: The 2021-22 Blue Wave season was your first, due to COVID-19 limitations and eligibility. But in a single year, you broke three school records and earned SUNY and national awards. How does that feel?
A: "When I win, my points are credited to the team’s score. Accomplishing those records as a team feels great. It is also amazing to have my name on the record board. I love that feeling of winning after working hard all season. It’s so rewarding to accomplish my goal time or win an event.”
Q: What inspired you to pursue accounting?
A: “I was always told that accounting was the language of business, and it is. Businesses and operations are translated onto paper to understand how they operate with numbers—and accounting. This semester, I’m taking a finance class, and I’m really in love with it. I’ll study it more and may add it as a minor.”
Q: You spent your K-12 education homeschooled. What skills did you develop in an independent-learning environment that you’ve found useful in college?
A: “I didn’t have a teacher who sat down with me and worked one-on-one. There were eight of us, all learning at the same time, so I had to be self-sufficient in many ways to learn the curriculum. I worked through problems and homework lessons on my own. I had to have my own motivation and be a self-starter. I apply that now.”
Q: What have you learned running Ludlow’s Farm Stand?
A: “I’ve learned the importance of planning ahead. I started prepping for the garden in May, ordering supplies and plants and planning the layout. I learned a lot through the season, too, about what my customers wanted and what they really liked. This will help me going forward with my strategy about what I’ll plant. It was really great to be able to apply to my business what I’ve learned in classes, like accounting, marketing and finance skills. I’ve had a lot of help and support from friends and family that I am grateful for as well.”
Q: You’ve received several scholarships during your college journey, including the Humphrey Family scholarship of $1,000 this year. How has that helped you?
A: “Having scholarship support has given me extra hours that I haven’t had to spend working during the semester and even the summer. I hope I can give back to students in the future with scholarships because I understand the importance of education, the struggle of providing for it on your own, and the deep meaning these scholarships have for students like myself. Geneseo is home to great students and so many more great alumni, and I am so glad they continue to support students like me.”
Learn more about Ben Ludlow '23 and how he's putting his School of Business skills to use: