Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

College helped shape me to be the woman I am today

May 05, 2021

By Oyuky Benitez

Oyuky BenitezOyuky Benitez

As I'm ending an important chapter in my life, I look back and see every difficult and joyful moment in college that made me who I am today – and I'm glad to say I'm proud of that person.

I am a first-generation college student from Phoenix, Arizona. My parents originate from Mexico City. Growing up, I remember my parents always working, trying to make ends meet with bills and other financial necessities for my three older sisters and me. No matter what, they tried to be the best parents they could be, despite life's adversity.

While I share this work ethic, attending college was never part of my future. The only thing I enjoyed about high school was being part of the athletics program; education couldn't quite pique my interest, and I graduated high school with a 2.8 GPA with no plans for college.

Fortunately, a community college in South Phoenix asked me to play for their volleyball program. It was here that my opinion of college and the education it offers changed. I learned to believe in my intelligence and the core values my parents instilled in me to reach my full potential. I then fell in love with obtaining new knowledge and skills that could help me progress in life, not just athletics. I graduated with an associate degree in general studies with a 4.0 GPA.

I fell in love with obtaining new knowledge and skills that could help me progress in life.

I didn't want my education to end there: I wanted to continue at a four-year school to further my academic and athletic career. The head volleyball coach at Kentucky State University reached out to me and invited me to be a part of the KSU family. KSU really opened my eyes to a diverse environment, forcing me out of my comfort zone and putting me in a place where I was able to gain the experience, knowledge and skills essential to succeeding in the real world.

I must admit, the pandemic tested my dedication to finishing a degree. However, like many other students, I was able to persevere through that hardship. This May, I will not only be graduating with a 3.6 GPA and a bachelor's degree in mass communication, but also as a self-disciplined, hardworking, patient, perseverant and reliable woman.

As the daughter of immigrants, I am grateful for the opportunities and new perspectives afforded to me by both of my colleges, South Mountain Community College and KSU. Let me tell you, higher education matters, although sometimes it's not known until you experience it like I did. College not only provides knowledge for a classroom, but also the knowledge one needs to succeed in the real world. Now, equipped with all of these new skills, I can say with confidence that college was worth it, and the education I received will be an invaluable asset I'll hold for the rest of my life.

Oyuky Benitez, a graduating senior majoring in mass communications at Kentucky State University, served as an intern to CPE's Communications Unit during the Spring 2021 semester.

Last Updated: 7/23/2021