This is our next post in a series highlighting Project Inspire scholarship recipients and their journey since receiving our scholarship!
Current Broward College biology student and future pharmacist, Winnie Benjamin, was initially introduced to Project Inspire and the Daphne Valcin essay-based Scholarship and leadership program during her junior year of high school.
At the time, Benjamin was a member of her high school’s majorette team and chose to write about her majorette experiences. Soon after winning the scholarship and beginning the Project Inspire Leadership Program, Benjamin, already seen as a leader amongst her peers, was voted Captain of the majorette squad. Though she was initially nervous, she embraced the role and the opportunity to lead using the knowledge she gained from Project Inspire as her guide.
Benjamin’s preparation for college included attendance in College Summit, a pre-college preparatory program where upperclassmen served as mentors and encouraged lower classmen to take on leadership roles and challenge themselves by including higher level classes to their existing course-load. Project Inspire took the lessons Benjamin had already learned to another level. She explains being more academically focused and much more involved in school activities, saying she “…was taught to go to school. Project Inspire taught me how to be part of school; how to be involved.”
Though she has many years of school ahead on the road to her goal of becoming a pharmacist, Benjamin is not deterred by the hard work. She is the second generation in her family to attend college, and is fueled by an internal fire to be the first to complete.
Her message to incoming freshmen is to “…keep the fear in check. College is a huge step, but it is not as scary as it seems.” She warns newbies to, “… use online tools to research professors and see what others have to say about how classes are structured. Once you are in class, get to know your professors. Don’t be just another number.”
In Benjamin’s estimation, the most difficult transition is to accept everything as a growth experience and opportunity to learn. “College is your introduction to adulthood and you have to embrace it on every level. You are in charge of your life.”
When things get difficult, Benjamin relies on her ability to remain positive, the life and leadership lessons she has already learned, and her determination to surround herself with only positive people. This is where she says Project Inspire is most impactful. “Even after winning the scholarship, there is still programming and interaction. I am still involved with Project Inspire today and the lessons I learn through their leadership are completely integrated into my daily life.”
Article written by: Tonya McCollin Cajuste, Guest Editor