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For government and law major Brandon Benjamin ’06 (Towanda, Pa.), a rafting trip on the Delaware River and a visit to Easton’s Crayola Factory offered a world of new friendships, knowledge, and experiences, thanks to his traveling companions — 18 Fulbright Scholars from all parts of the world.

Benjamin helped host participants in a recent six-week institute on the theory and practice of the United States Constitution as an assistant to John Kincaid, Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service and director of Lafayette’s Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government.

The student split his time between the Fulbright Scholars and research with Kincaid on comparative federalism and government performance through Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars Program, in which students are paid a stipend to assist faculty with research. Lafayette is a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the 180 students who participate in EXCEL each year go on to publish papers in scholarly journals and/or present their research at conferences.

For the third consecutive year, Kincaid has been awarded a Fulbright grant to conduct a summer institute on the U.S. Constitution for 18 foreign university educators from 18 different countries. He has authored various works on federalism and intergovernmental relations and is coeditor of Publius: The Journal of Federalism and a 50-book series on the Governments and Politics of the American States that will be published by University of Nebraska Press. His honors include being named Distinguished Federalism Scholar by the American Political Science Association.

Benjamin says he learned a great deal from both experiences — and found that the university educators who comprised the Fulbright group could be both serious scholars and fun-loving adventurers.

“It certainly was the highlight of my summer, and one of the highlights of my life,” he says. “I learned a lot about different federal constitutions, and I know I would like to focus on international issues in the next three years.”

In between conversing with and learning from the Fulbright Scholars, Benjamin picked up valuable research skills as he helped Kincaid collect information about social, political, and civil rights in 185 nations and conducted a statistical analysis of that data. In addition, Benjamin proofread parts of a book on comparative federal constitutions that Kincaid is editing for the Ottawa, Canada-based International Forum of Federations.

“He’s a very bright young person,” says Kincaid, explaining that he selected Benjamin for both projects based on his performance in an independent study on political science research methodologies during the spring semester.

Benjamin, who is continuing his research with Kincaid this semester with funding from the Meyner Center, says he’s glad for the opportunity to work with such a well-respected scholar.

“Dr. Kincaid is a brilliant man,” he says. “He’s also extremely easy to work with. I would describe our relationship as a very comfortable teacher-student bond.”

Benjamin adds that students who take advantage of the opportunities offered at Lafayette will find that it’s well worth the price of tuition.

“It’s incredible,” he says. “It all comes back to you.”

A 2002 graduate of Towanda Area High School, Benjamin is a member of the Kirby Government and Law Society, the College Republicans, and the Mock Trial team. He also serves as a resident adviser and volunteers for the Kids in the Community program and Easton Boys and Girls Club through the Landis Community Outreach Center. He hopes to attend law school after graduation.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Over the past five years, more than 130 Lafayette students have presented results from their research with faculty mentors, or under their guidance, at the conference.

Categorized in: Academic News