Ben Cumbo has impressed faculty and students with his calm demeanor and achievements.
Cumbo was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of three, but that didn’t slow him down. At six years old Cumbo was heavily involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association. His MDA involvement gave him the opportunity to travel the United States, spreading awareness about his chronic condition. He also participated in seminars with the hope of raising money to put toward medical research.
Cumbo started his academics at St. Mary’s as a history major, but changed his focus following a freshman year sociology course. During his freshman year Cumbo was a parliamentarian, and by junior year moved up to the President position, which he said was “very intense.”
“Part of me loved that leadership quality and to be very initiative taking,” said Cumbo. He says he enjoys the role he has in creating activities for the campus community.
Cumbo’s sociology focus is unexpected considering his heavy involvement in politics. He was an intern for president-elect Obama’s campaign immediately following his presidential candidacy declaration.
As an intern Cumbo was delegated to answering phone calls from constituents and assisting in tours of capital hill. Looking back on his campaign experience Cumbo feels, “Just to realize that I was a part of it and had some part of his success makes me feel good.”
Cumbo began writing in his early teens. Writing was “something fun that I liked…it was an activity, if you will; a leisurely thing.”
During his freshman year Cumbo’s family members expressed interest in his writing. Cumbo admitted, “My family members asked if they could see it. They recommended I send it to somebody who was actually a writer themselves….it needed a little bit of editing,” he said.
Cumbo entitled his manuscript King Me. It is a fictional story set approximately ten years into the future. The plot details a dialogue between three characters addressing the good and bad of being human.
Cumbo is influenced by his friends’ personalities, and some of their character qualities definitely show through despite the futuristic setting. When asked if he is apart of the novel, Cumbo said, “to some degree…but more dialogue and discussion-based.”
Over a two year period Cumbo worked alongside an editor to improve his manuscript. He confessed that the “Manuscript was a lot longer lot of stuff you wish was in there but sometimes those elements aren’t there and you have to take it out…big process.” Around this same time, Cumbo and his family financed and started the Fourth Press publishing company based in Prince George’s County. In the end Cumbo was satisfied with the revised manuscript.
Cumbo continues to write in his spare time, but understands that school comes first. Currently, Cumbo is the Peer Mentor for Professor Coleman’s first year seminar course, Literature of the American Civil Rights Movement (CORE101.13).
Professor Coleman wanted Cumbo specifically because of his past performance in his ENGL230 course, African American Expression. “During that class it became apparent that Ben was an exceptional student with an impressive knowledge of world history and religion. He has an uncanny ability to connect current or historical events in America to similar events that have occurred around the globe.”
Coleman continued, “I could have selected any student on campus as the peer mentor for my First Year Seminar but I knew Ben would be the ideal choice. He has contributed greatly to class discussion and has established a constructive rapport with most of the students in the course.”
Cumbo’s dream is to write fiction, but he hopes to eventually be a part of the intelligence community. He is a very gifted young man. As Professor Coleman puts it, “I think he has a promising future as a graduate student, writer, and educator.”