Jan. 19, 2021 – Savanah Benbenek’s journey through Massasoit was defined by goals. As a first-generation college student and single mother, Savanah knew that college was the first step towards a career that she could have only imagined before. She had a big dream, but no map to get her there.

In 2018, after enrolling at Massasoit, Savanah set her first goal: to make the Dean’s List. She did that in her first semester with a 3.6 GPA. Wanting to challenge herself more, Savanah next sought to be accepted into Phi Theta Kappa, the world’s largest and most prestigious honor society for two-year college students. After achieving that, she didn’t stop there.

“I kept checking off these boxes I set for myself because there were people at Massasoit I could turn to and ask, ‘What else can I do?’” said Savanah.

One of those people was Jamie Chin, senior academic counselor with the CHOICES program. Savanah frequently spoke with Jamie, who she credits with keeping her going and connecting her with resources.

On December 4, 2020, Savanah graduated as a member of the Class of 2020 with an Associate of Arts Degree in Psychology and checked off one last box at Massasoit; she was chosen to address to her peers as the Student Commencement Speaker.

“I had done all of these things at Massasoit, and I thought speaking at graduation would be the perfect way to wrap it all up. I was happy to do it, maybe even more so given the circumstances that the Class of 2020 faced. They’re the most impressive group of graduates.”

Savanah’s time at Massasoit was not without challenges. Her oldest of three children has struggles with mental health, which inspired her to enter the field of psychology. She worked part-time while studying, and her family had to make sacrifices and work around a strange schedule. At times, this required her to bring her little boy to class or to the library with her on Saturday mornings.

“My children were my biggest cheerleaders as I studied at Massasoit. Now that it’s over, all three of them can go through school and not feel pressure to be the first to go to college. I knew my own education could impact them and put them at a disadvantage if I didn’t try.”

Savanah easily transferred to Bridgewater State University and has already completed a full semester there. She’s working as a residential counselor at Saint Vincent’s Services and wants to get her master’s degree to become licensed as a mental health counselor or therapist.

She credits her professors at Massasoit for preparing her for Bridgewater, giving her a new cultural perspective, and helping to building her up. She left Massasoit having completed all of her goals and with a broadened view of her education.

“Massasoit presented an opportunity to grow as a woman, as a mother, and as a member of the community. It was more than I had hoped for, and I didn’t expect it to become such a big part of me,” said Savanah.