After high school, Ben Hesketh followed his brother, Matt, who was three years older, to the UA. At the end of his freshman year, Ben still hadn’t decided on a major. Maybe history, which he had loved since his early years watching the History Channel. Perhaps he would pursue a career in physical therapy, which he had benefited from after a sports injury in high school.
Before that story could unfold, however, Ben died in a car accident near Lake Mary in Northern Arizona on an early Saturday morning in 2008. He was 19.
Five years later, Matt was feeling Ben’s absence as he planned his upcoming wedding to his fiancée, Lindsay. Together, they decided to marry on Ben’s birthday and asked that guests forego a customary wedding present and instead donate to a scholarship fund in Ben’s name.
With the generous donations from wedding guests combined with personal funds, Matt and Lindsay were able to kick off the Benjamin A. Hesketh Memorial Scholarship in the UA Department of History. The first scholarship was awarded to a student during the fall 2015 semester.
“The generous support of the Hesketh family helps us to encourage and reward history students who are engaged in original research,” said Kevin Gosner, head of the Department of History. “The Benjamin A. Hesketh Memorial Scholarship will help undergraduates visit archives and special collections and also to travel to regional and national conferences, where they can share their work with other young historians.”
When he was at the UA, Matt majored in political science and history before obtaining a law degree. “An interest in history was one of the things that Ben and I shared, which was one of the reasons that creating a history scholarship felt right,” said Matt.
Ben and Matt grew closer during their joint year at the UA. “It was the first time we had lived together. Our parents divorced when we were fairly young, and Ben lived with my mom, and I lived with my dad,” said Matt, adding that his parents created many opportunities for them to spend time together. “It was a really good year for us. Sometimes I feel bad that he didn’t have the traditional freshman experience of living in a dorm, but at the same time, I wouldn’t give up that year that I got to spend with him.”
Matt said Ben was outgoing and fun to be around. “I have always been more of a serious person, and Ben helped me to find balance in life,” said Matt. “He showed me that life is more than working really hard and studying all the time. You need to make time for finding passions and enjoying what you are doing.”
Both Matt and Lindsay understand the importance of education. Matt’s dad worked at Northern Arizona University for 40 years, and his mom was a schoolteacher.
Lindsay, who is also a lawyer and a UA alumnus, majored in philosophy and minored in sociology. She went on to get an M.A. in higher education before earning her J.D. degree.
“We were raised in an atmosphere that valued higher education, and we understand the need for students to come back after graduation and help the next group of students going through,” said Matt.
“I was in full support of doing a scholarship,” said Lindsay. “We were both on the same page about wanting to honor Ben in that way.”
Matt adds that he has been touched and grateful for the support of family and friends. “To this day, people come together on the anniversary of Ben’s passing and his birthday to remember and celebrate him,” said Matt.
“I think that serves as a testament to how much of an impact he had on the world around him.”