Commencement Spotlight: Justina E. Benson
May 2, 2022
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti
The Commencement Spotlight series highlights graduating Bearkats with a “can-do” spirit through challenges and service.
Justina E. Benson
Edo State, Nigeria
Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration
Justina Benson graduated from high school in Nigeria at age 15 before moving to the US to join her family, who had previously left. Starting over in a new country while also beginning college was intimidating.
“I was a 16-year-old immigrant in college in America for the first time with minimal information and guidance, all of this added to my fears and feelings of doubt,” Benson said. “I remember staying up late on the night before my first college class. I was overwhelmed and didn’t know what to expect.”
As Benson’s college journey progressed, so did her confidence in herself. She started learning and experiencing more than she ever imagined in college, both in and outside the classroom.
“I learned about my personality type, managing finances, how to relate to diversity issues, deal with problems and critically find solutions, and how to choose a career based on what I really want,” she said.
Overtime, Benson’s social skills started to improve as she made great connections in college and began to try new things.
“It is important to own your story and be the architect of your own life. That was a big lesson for me. In Nigeria, society dictates how a woman runs her life and that just doesn’t align with me. I want to live life on my own terms. This included switching to the academic major of my choice.” she said. “I learned that too many of us aren’t living our dreams because we are living our fears, so I personally set a goal to always demonstrate ‘GRIT’—growth, resilience, instinct and tenacity.”
Benson’s educational experience at Sam Houston State University resulted in a summer internship with the American Red Cross Disaster Relief program, which led her to an interest in emergency preparedness and project management. She hopes to continue this career path after college with a healthcare organization.
"Though my college journey was somewhat rocky, a lot of these uncomfortable failures birthed so many success stories and growth. I completed my associates degree at age 18 from Lone Star College, and completed an undergraduate honors thesis with SHSU Honors College. I have stellar grades and soon will be graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration with Honors Cum Laude and academic distinction. Credit goes to my clan; my parents, friends, supporters, professors and online pals for all their unwavering support, hearing me rant about school and making suggestions that impacted my life positively," she said.
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