By Sara Shea
Papers, piled on top of textbooks, piled on top of dirty gym shorts – sounds like any boys dorm room right? Marist senior Brendan Smullen is no exception. Capping project outlines and empty coffee cups occupy any empty space in his room. As the captain of the ultimate Frisbee team and a senior Psychology major, Brendan has little to no down time.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous to think I’m graduating in 20 something days,” said Smullen. “I know it sounds cheesy but it feels like yesterday I was in my room packing – scared out of my mind to move in freshman year.”
With graduation drawing closer, the 22-year-old Maine native has big plans for the future. “This summer I will be lobbying for Fund the Public Interest,” said Smullen, “It’s a green organization focused on promoting environmental awareness.”
As a lobbyist Brendan’s responsibilities will include calling congressman and going door-to-door promoting the group. Considered more of a summer internship than a “real job” he will earn merit based pay throughout the summer.
“My ideal job would have something to do with environmental law, so Fund the Public Interest is a tremendous opportunity for me,” Smullen continued. “Right now I have some funds set aside that I’m going to let mature. Law school applications don’t start until September for the fall of 2010, so I’ve got time. Right now my number one school is Pace University because of their Environmental Law Program.”
Before Brendan begins studying how to save the planet, he will be doing a little manual labor to help the earth first. Pending a phone interview on Tuesday May, 5 Brendan will be accepted into the AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) program.
“The NCCC program takes you to 3 sites nationally, doing some sort of service projects with groups of your peers – which in my case is 18-24 yr olds. You don’t know where you’re going or what the goal of the site is,” said Smullen. “I’ve been told 50% of our time will be spent on disaster relief, focusing mainly on the Gulf Coast,”
Born and raised in the small town of Wells, Maine, Smullen hopes to see and do as much as possible during his year off from school.
“I would love to work with children,” Brendan continued, “[AmeriCorps] offered me a position in their City Year program in New Hampshire where I would work with underprivileged students. The appeal is there but it would be an hour from home, which is a little too close for me – I really want to get out and do things on my own.”
President Obama recently increased funding for the AmeriCorps program, tripling the membership role from 75,000 to 250,000 members each year. AmeriCorps is currently a 10-month program that gives citizens a chance to give back to their country. Members work 5 days a week for a total of 1700 hours throughout the 10-month period. “We’re expected to live on around $100 a week,” said Smullen. “Food, housing, and medical benefits are provided for us, so only having $100 to spend shouldn’t be too bad.”
Brendan’s girlfriend, Marist sophomore Katie Warren will be studying abroad in Spain during the fall 2009 semester. In addition to visiting Katie in Barcelona Brendan hopes to hike the Appalachian Trail at some point (preferably before entering law school). “Over the next 10 months I can hopefully take some weekend trips to the Appalachians. To hike the trail from north to south is typically a 5-6 month trip, so I’m going to have to do a lot of planning beforehand.”
Always equipped with hiking boots and his North Face backpack, Brendan’s love for the outdoors is contagious. “I’ve never considered myself a girlie-girl by any stretch of the imagination,” said Brendan’s girlfriend, Katie Warren. “But keeping up with him is a full time job. From hiking, to biking, to only God knows what else – he seriously does not sleep. The kid runs on fresh air and coffee.”
With a solid plan for the future and the drive and ambition to accomplish just about anything, Brendan Smullen is ready to make a difference in world. “After Marist you’re in the ‘real world.’ Now its up to us to ‘be the change we wish to see in the world.’ ”