Student talks about dreams of being history teacher, trivia host


Westphalia senior Benjamin Keilen poses near Anspach Hall.

Westphalia senior Ben Keilen transferred to Central Michigan University from Lansing Community College in 2016, and has since immersed himself into his history and social studies majors. 

Keilen commutes twice a week to campus from his home in Westphalia, where he lives with his parents and can walk to his job at the local Pohl Oil gas station. 

Between his work schedule and being "that kid" in his history classes that frequently asks questions, Keilen still manages to make the most of his time at CMU, while working towards a very specific set of goals and dreams. 

Central Michigan Life sat down with Keilen to talk about those dreams and what he's doing to achieve them.

CM Life: "What’s your ideal job?"

Keilen: "High school history teacher at a medium-sized town with a coaching gig on the side, and a couple of weird odd jobs. (I would) try and keep myself occupied."

What would those weird odd jobs be?

I want to be a DJ trivia host at bars and restaurants. (It's) $50 a night and it’s a lot of fun. I want to be one of those after-school teacher who does little side clubs and stuff. Maybe have my own small business on the side. I don’t know what yet, but just something so that I’m not always doing the same thing. (I will) keep it busy. 

Why do you want to teach?

Because of that whole thing, "do what you love." I am obsessed with history. I love talking about it and like experiencing it and just being immersed in it. And this is probably the most realistic job I can get where I can just be immersed in it. 

I just like talking to people, even kids. I do good with kids even though I am still kind of a kid. It just seems like a good fit for me. I love just going to Powers Hall and talking to people who are equally as nerdy as me.

Can you explain this DJ trivia?

This is something I do and have been doing for years. I love it. It’s basically you go there with your friends -- doesn’t matter how many teammates -- they ask you trivia questions and you try and get them right, obviously. If you get enough of them right you’re competing against other tables, and then whoever wins gets money which you can spend on booze and food. 

Where are they held?

I have one in my hometown, and there’s about 30 of them in Lansing. They have them in towns around where I live.

So are there specific bars made for this?

No, it's like if you have a slow night of the week at the bar or something you just invite in a DJ trivia host and it’s sort of like karaoke night, or like a bingo night. It’s just something to sort of get people in (the bar) on a slow night, and it works. 

Have you ever hosted one?

I want to, and I’m in the process of trying to do that soon, but I haven’t yet. I have talked to the guy who runs it and I have his number. He’s waiting until a spot opens up, then I can do it. 

Would you prepare the questions?

No. The way it works is they give you an app and you have to sit at a computer and have music or a song playing. The song is usually a hint for whatever the question is. You have until the duration of the song to answer the question — which is why it’s called DJ trivia. The questions are about history, sports, pop culture, world flags and math — which I hate. 

It’s just random stuff and you can have as big of a team as you want. You eat and you drink and you sort of just have fun while you’re doing it. My girlfriend loves it. 

Have you ever made any money?

Oh yeah, I’ve made hundreds of dollars doing this. Here’s the thing though. You make money, in the sense that if you win you get money, but if you lose you pay for your meal. That’s kind of how it works. 

So you’re there eating and drinking and then you have the chance to win money?

If you win first place, you get $30. If you get second place you get $20. Third place, $10. The downside of having a bigger team though is if you win it’s split more ways. I usually have a team of two or three, so it will actually cover everybody’s food.    

So you do this in your hometown?

Yeah, Westphalia. Pretty much every town in my area has one place that does it at least one night a week. And there are people who do this five nights a week. I commute (to CMU) twice a week.

How do you manage not to have any debt right now?

Trivia. But for real, I have worked at the same gas station since high school. It doesn’t pay amazingly well, but it pays well enough where I can sort of pay for school, and pay for gas. I’m not rich or anything. 

Right now it kind of sucks, this time of year, because I have to buy $200-$300 worth of presents for everyone in my family, and that’s kind of a bit of a shock.

Do you plan to move out once you graduate?

When I have a job. Like, a real job, not a gas station job. Which hopefully I will have soon, because I don't want to wait.