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HIGHER EDUCATION NOTEBOOK: UND student finds success after tragedy

“Finding Faith in the Field” book cover.

Ben Hylden, a Park River, N.D., native, was sitting around the campfire at summer camp when he suddenly decided to tell his story.

A senior in high school at the time, Hylden told his fellow campers about how he nearly died from internal bleeding in his brain, organ damage, and a crushed leg and face when his car slid off a remote road a few years prior in 2007.

Hylden found his calling at that campfire.

“My dream is to speak around the world and share my story,” he said. “It’s proven to me now that anything is possible.”

But Hylden said that, growing up, he hated speaking in front of people and writing. In fact, he switched majors after he started attending UND so he wouldn’t have to take a writing class.

Now a senior at UND, he said he thinks God pushed him to write about his traumatic experience anyway and ended publishing “Finding Faith in the Field,” which has sold about 2,500 copies since it was published in April.

“It’s funny to me because when I was writing it I was like, ‘Gosh, who am I to be writing this book?’” he said. “I was hoping I would sell 100 copies.”

Because of the book’s success, Hylden now tours the Midwest as a public speaker, a career he hopes to continue with once he graduates in May.

“I can see myself writing a book down the road if my speaking career is a success... if God is speaking and working through me, and I’m doing something worth writing write about,” Hylden said.

Hylden’s book is available for purchase at, several local bookstores and at Ye Olde Medicine Center in Park River.

Other news

  •  Dr. Ralph Renger, a professor at the Center for Rural Health at UND, has had an article examining the different purposes of evaluation and research published in the latest issue of the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation.
  •  New UND faculty and administrators will embark on the 24th annual bus tour Aug. 18, giving them a chance to explore the southern part of North Dakota. The tour will make stops in North Dakota communities such as Hillsboro, Jamestown, Edgeley, Bismarck, Medora, Washburn, Cooperstown and Mayville.
  •  The Sunrise Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates will hold a poster session from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday on the second floor of UND’s Harrington Hall to showcase the results of their summer-long work with faculty in the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering departments.
  •  The Bjerke family of Hatton, N.D., recently donated two ledgers of family data and letters from Norway between first generation Bjerke family immigrants to the Arne G. Brekke Collection of Norwegian Bygdeboks at UND.
  •  Karen Becker and Richard Shafer of the UND Communication Program held a workshop on research methods for scholars from developing countries at a conference in India. The conference was held by the International Association for Media and Communication Research, a worldwide media and communication research organization.

More info: Share higher education news at; include “Higher ed notebook” in the subject heading. To see more regional higher education news, visit the websites of UNDUniversity of Minnesota-CrookstonNorthland Community and Technical CollegeMayville State University and Lake Region State College.

Herald Staff Writer Dani Meyer contributed to this column. 

Anna Burleson

Anna Burleson is the higher education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Mass Communication program and is originally from Watertown, S.D. Contact her with story ideas or tips by phone, email or Twitter, all of which are listed below. Examples of her work can be accessed here.

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