Mark Sunderland '77, at left, with Marist Br. James Halliday and Ben Salm '77, at right, enjoying dinner together near Ben’s home in Cambridge, Mass.
His father was raised by Catholic clergy in Virginia. His French-Canadian mother attended an all-girls Catholic school in Maine. His earliest elementary years were spent in a Catholic school in Beirut, Lebanon. “Marist was probably inevitable for me,” said Ben Salm '77 with a smile in his voice.
Ben entered Marist as a sophomore in 1974 and remembers how much the Marist Brothers and coaches meant to him. “Coming from a single-parent home meant there was a lot of learning and mentoring that had to take place elsewhere, and so I think the Marist experience became that much more important. For me, that happened on the sports field, along with other opportunities to be involved. I remember being at football practice and hearing the We Are One motto. That phrase leads into the whole ‘community’ and ‘fellowship’ aspects that I think are at the core of my Marist experience, then and now.”
As it is for every Marist student, service was interwoven into school life. Ben volunteered at the auction, participated in retreats and helped with the construction of the Marist brothers’ home through his woodshop class taught by Coach Rich Schwab.
Ben transitioned from being a Spartan to a Duck, earning a degree in Business from the University of Oregon, before getting his Masters in Applied Economics and Finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Ben describes his career path as “an organic and richly rewarding journey.” He crafted his computer skills, business acumen and analytical abilities into a successful career as an investment manager. “Most of what happens in the world affects financial markets, so you have to pay attention to the wider view — which keeps it interesting.”
While at MIT, he reconnected with Brother James Halliday, a Marist teacher during Ben’s high school years. Their friendship endured as Ben’s work led him around the globe, prior to putting down roots in Cambridge, Not only Massachusetts – where he now lives. It just so happens that Brother James teaches at Central Catholic just down the road 30 minutes.
“Ben’s a genuine person,” commented Brother James. “I got to know him on retreats, and he was always dedicated to service.” Ben’s sense of leadership and service led him to be involved with the Marist Brother’s summer camp in New Hampshire for the past 15 years, while he also serves separately as an advisor to the Marist Brothers Province.
“Ben’s wholesomeness as a student in high school has carried over into his adult life and his concern for people,” said Brother Dan Grogan, another Marist brother from Ben’s high school days who has kept in touch over the years.
Ben realizes more and more, as the years go by, how important Marist is in his life — and his relationships. “I’ve been fortunate thanks in part to some rich life experiences like Marist,” Ben said. “The world’s become more challenging and we need young men and women who are strong, smart, grounded, and compassionate. I really can’t think of anything more important than to chip in towards that.”
Ben is helping ensure that other students will benefit from the Marist community. He’s contributed to the Advancing Marist campaign in support of tuition assistance, the science wing and athletic field construction. And he’s looking even further ahead: a thoughtful planned gift to the Marist Foundation will fund scholarships and help provide a Marist experience for young people who otherwise might not have the chance to experience three important aspects of life: community, leadership and service.
— From Marist Magazine, Volume 7 No. 1, Fall 2015.