Kent State Trumbull's Brooklyn Bennett is anything but ordinary
When Brooklyn Bennett takes the stage at Packard Music Hall on Saturday, May 11, she will share her story, her hopes, and her dreams with Kent State University at Trumbull’s graduating class. However, her journey to graduation isn’t what most people would consider typical.
Bennett was in foster care as a child, but only for a couple of years. Along with her two sisters, she was adopted at the age of seven by Dan and Denise Baker. She graduated from LaBrae High School in 2006 and enrolled for a short time at Youngstown State. In the fall of 2007, she first enrolled at Kent State Trumbull.
“I made a lot of mistakes as a first-generation college student,” Bennett said. “I only finished one semester out of four that I enrolled in at Trumbull between 2007 and 2009. I foolishly withdrew from three semesters of classes after getting my student refund.”
When she left the school in 2009, she withdrew late and ended up with a hold on her account. She was also married at the time and had her first daughter, Cevanna, with her second daughter, Callah, soon on the way.
When Bennett’s marriage ended, she was a single mom, with two daughters, living with her parents.
“I struggled with how to provide for my daughters financially and emotionally. So, toward the end of 2015, I was working in a factory as a temp, wearing steel toe boots, for twelve hours a day, making more money than I ever had in my life, but still not enough to move out of my parents' house,” said Bennett. “It was great earning money. However, I rarely had much time or energy to spend with my children.”
She thought about going back to college but also didn’t want to leave her job. That decision became much easier at the end of 2015 when she lost her job.
When she made the decision to go back to school, she knew she would inevitably have to untangle the mess she created years before. Her Aunt Judy helped her settle with the bursar’s office and she got back on track with her student loans. She enrolled in three classes that spring and soon decided to pursue an English degree.
Three years later, Bennet is graduating Magna Cum Laude and recently received Kent State’s “Distinguished Graduating Senior in English Award.” This is a university-wide award, meaning Bennett is the top graduating senior in English throughout the entire Kent State system.
She also was recognized for her hard work during her studies at Kent State Trumbull by earning a number of scholarships: Milton Wick Foundation Scholarship, Summer Undergraduate Research Scholarship, Kathryn Sines Single Parent Scholarship, Professor M.R Smith Scholarship, Wymer Memorial- Literature Scholarship, and most recently one of five Kent State Trumbull Study Abroad Scholarships to study in Poland over this spring break.
Cevanna (9) and Callah (7) are now old enough to appreciate what their mom has accomplished. “Being a single mom and a full-time student is not an easy feat, but it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Being a single mom and graduating from college, at the level that I have, has proven to me that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to,” Bennett said. “It gives me the confidence to become the woman and mother I have always known I can be.”
Bennett will be continuing her education as a graduate student in Kent State’s Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication program this fall under a full-time assistantship.
“My goal after earning my master’s degree is to work with a non-profit or non-governmental organization to help underprivileged women in some capacity. I want to make a difference.”
“In age, Brooklyn is considered a non-traditional student. In every sense of her passion and determination to overcome obstacles, she is one of our traditional students. Brooklyn epitomizes who we are as representatives of Kent State Trumbull and our Mahoning Valley,” said Dr. Lance Grahn, dean and chief administrative officer, Kent State Trumbull.
Congratulations, Brooklyn! We are so proud.