Ben Stein speaks at Stark Campus

Rebekah Mosora

Actor, comedian, writer and college professor Ben Stein speaks at Kent State Stark Campus yesterday evening. He gave advice and spoke candidly about his life experiences in his speech titled, “Free at last: What’s right with America.”

Credit: Steve Schirra

Ben Stein has some advice for today’s college students.

“I’m going to talk about how to ruin your life and how to save your life in large part by being grateful for what’s right,” Stein said in a speech last night. “It’s what I wish I had been told when I was a college student. I wish someone would have told me how to make my life better.”

A mixed audience filled Kent State’s Stark Campus’ Timken Great Hall last night to listen to Ben Stein present his speech “Free at last: What’s right with America.”

Stein, the well-known actor, writer, lawyer and college professor, talked candidly about his life experiences to the community members, students and university officials in attendance.

The audience laughed as the actor, famous for his role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, opened the presentation with a series of jokes.

Stein first started by reciting a list he composed after experiencing a day with his teenage son. The list consists of ways to be sure to ruin a person’s life.

Stein emphasized such items as not learning any skills and just watching reruns of “The Simpsons,” criticizing people early and often because they love it, knowing you are the source of all wisdom even though you have never read a book, and saying “I told you so” whenever possible.

In writing a contrasting list of things that make a successful life, Stein emphasized hard work.

“Hard work is a gift from God, it’s not a burden and it’s not painful,” Stein said. “Nothing uplifts you like work.”

Stein also recommended that people make a “gratitude list” of things they’re grateful for. He said gratitude is one of the most important aspects of a successful life.

“Living without gratitude is insanely self-destroying and blind,” Stein said.

In measuring what makes a life successful, Stein said he looks at more than wealth and power.

“Our life has to be about more than just making money,” Stein said. “It has to be about meaning, and meaning is living to help other people.”

In addressing the importance of a college education, Stein said he sees no other option.

“In today’s world you can not be an uneducated worker, you must be a skilled worker,” Stein said. “There is no alternative to higher education.”

Stein said he relates to the apprehensions college students have about their future. He confessed that during his senior year of college, he didn’t know what he was going to do with his life. Although he was a lawyer and economist by trade, he fell into writing, acting and teaching.

“You have to experience and try different roads,” Stein said. “You can coast, but you can only coast down hill.”

In addition to speaking on campus, Stein held a video conference with local high schools earlier that day. Cynthia Williams, the public relations coordinator for the Stark campus and an organizer of the speaker series, said the conference went well, and the students were excited to talk to Stein.

Although Stein focused mainly on life experiences, he was unable to escape his most famous role. In both the video conference and after the speech he was asked to recite the famous role call from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

The audience laughed as he willingly complied, repeating “Bueller, Bueller, Bueller.”

Contact regional campus reporter Rebekah Mosora at [email protected].