2013 EOPS STUDENT OF THE YEAR

BRIANNE SULLIVAN

This year’s EOPS Student of the Year began her interview with the words, “I have a dream”, the very words spoken by   Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that inspired the birth of EOPS and CARE.

Throughout life, this student faced challenges and conquered them with courage, determination, and optimism.  She married at nineteen years “young”, had two children, and divorced two years later, all by age 25.  For a decade, she worked at a restaurant earning minimum wage and tips, raising her two   children from paycheck to paycheck.

 
Two years after her divorce, she had a major surgery that left her bedridden for two months.  While major depression may have been a typical response for many, she says, “ideas of how I could make the world a better place flooded my imagination...nothing would change if I didn’t.  I have been    pursuing knowledge vigorously since my dream came to me”.     

Her passions are for plants and sustainable living, which are thoroughly integrated into her life.  Her relevant accomplishments are many:
  • She is actively involved in the Horticulture Club including past Vice President.  For the second consecutive year, the Club honored her as Outstanding Student of the Year.
  • She participated in PLANET 2013: the National Collegiate Landscape Competition, where over 800 students from 60 colleges and universities compete in events that require the skills necessary for a career in the green industry.  She entered four categories and with her teammates, and placed 12th, 10th, 5th, and 2nd.
  • This spring semester, she will have completed 91 units, has maintained a 3.57 overall GPA, and will transfer this fall to her 1st choice, Humboldt State University, to complete a bachelors    degree in Environmental Science. 
  • She aspires to complete masters and doctorate degrees in her field of study. 
Though her achievements are impressive, as remarkable is the gratitude she constantly expresses for her supporters, including classmates, faculty, staff, and administrators.  Most endearing is her appreciation for her children. She says they are “incredible achievers who are very encouraging and proud that their mom goes to college”. 

 

2013 CARE STUDENT OF THE YEAR

VITA BENCHASKY

At last year’s Awards Ceremony, we shared that across the state of CA, EOPS was “Born From the Dream” of equal access to education for all.  Forty five years later, we continue to have the motto to “Keep the Dream Alive”. 

In May 2013, the CARE program honored Vita Benchasky as CARE Student of the Year for her outstanding academic achievement and dedication to her family and community.

Vita impressively manages multiple responsibilities on her journey to achieving her dreams.  She is a student, volunteer, mentor, and single mother of an eighteen year old son and five year old daughter. 

When Vita herself was a little girl, she dreamed of going to college, but for many years, that dream seemed so far out of reach.  Eighteen years passed before returning to school at Shasta College.  Vita says she would not change any of her many life challenges and actually refers to them as blessings that have molded her into the strong confident woman that she is today. 

This spring semester, she will complete 52 units and her fourth consecutive semester at Shasta College as a full-time student.  Vita has earned an impressive 3.3 overall GPA towards her dream of being a dental hygienist, the Shasta College degree that requires the most units, 103!
 

For those who have the pleasure of knowing Vita, we are always impressed by her remarkable dedication to her goals, including her priority to serving our community.  At Awanas Neighborhood Church in Redding, Vita volunteers as the secretary and has been a leader for two years for the children’s bible study.  She is committed to being actively involved in her children’s lives, including volunteering weekly at her daughter’s school, completing teen parenting certifications through the Family Dynamics Resource Center, and helping her son study for his GED.  

Vita is fully committed to her life of positive recovery.  Her impressive accomplishments include serving as secretary at weekly meetings of AA and SOS, a sponsor for two women in AA and NA, and a women’s group facilitator addressing issues of co-dependency.   This month Vita is celebrating her 3rd year of sobriety and has successfully completed the T.I.P. treatment program, which brings her even closer to her dream of being a dental hygienist.

Vita is compassionate, hard-working, and sincere.  These qualities are best described in her own words, as she has generously offered to “contribute my time, support, and experience in every way possible to give back what was so freely given to me to help EOPS/CARE ‘Keep the Dream Alive’ in hopes that there will be many others who can experience the joy that this awesome program and its services have given me...Through dedication and perseverance, I am now living my dream!”