Continuing King’s Legacy: Christina Benjamin ’03

January 16, 2012

Christine Benjamin

(Photo by Natalya Madolora Photography)

Christina Benjamin ’03 is most passionate about serving others and is committed to leading a life of service. While a student at Rollins, the history major wrote for The Sandspur, served as a representative for the Black Student Union (BSU) on the Cultural Action Committee, became president of BSU, and was a Rollins Diplomat and Ambassador for the Rollins Student Alumni Association. Since graduating, Benjamin has gone on to obtain a master’s in public health from George Washington University. She now works as a special liaison to the Office of Head Start with the Early Head Start National Resource Center, Zero to Three. For over eight years, she has provided training, developed resources, and implemented programs on health disparities, health literacy, maternal and child health, and women’s health.

During his “I Have a Dream Speech,” King laid out his dream. What is your dream?

On a national and global level, my dream is for every child, woman, or man to fulfill their greatest potential and serve others by standing for freedom and justice for all. My dream builds on some of the themes of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream Speech,” including freedom, unity, and brot

On a personal level, my dream is for my three godbrothers – Tre (16), DeMarcus (13), and DJ (5) – to be college graduates and make an impact on the world. My greatest hope and dream is to one day watch my dad walk across the stage at the Harold & Ted Alfond Sports Complex to earn his MBA at the Crummer Graduate School of Business, as he always talks about wanting to go back to school for his MBA. He is a humble and faithful servant who gives of his time to serve others. His unwavering faith and steadfast determination was a great source of inspiration for me while I completed my master’s degree.

What do you perceive to be the most pressing issue that your generation should address?

Some of the most pressing issues my generation must address include poverty, education, and health care. The injustices that surround these issues are interconnected and prevent individuals from living in freedom and fulfilling their greatest potential to contribute to their families, communities, and society in meaningful ways.

Children and families who live in poverty struggle to meet everyday needs for food, shelter, and clothing. These living conditions adversely affect one’s ability to learn, work, or thrive as a child or an adult. Low-income individuals experience significant barriers to access and receive health care which leads to health disparities and poor health outcomes. Children living in poverty lack quality child care and education when compared to children from higher socioeconomic status. Without early and ongoing positive intervention, low-income children are set on a trajectory of repeating the cycle of poverty.

My generation must play an active role in standing against the great injustices facing women, men, and children in the United States and around the world. We must resist the tendency to be complacent or the belief that we cannot make a difference because the challenges of our times are too great.

How are you helping to make justice a reality?

I give of my time, talents, and resources to support organizations, such as Kiwanis International and the Junior League, to address the local, national, and global issues that affect children and families. As a part-time faculty member at Montgomery College, I am blessed with the opportunity and privilege to teach students, who come from diverse cultures and backgrounds, about the importance of taking care of their health and making changes to promote their well-being. It’s a great joy to read my students’ papers or hear them talk in class about making health behavior changes for themselves and in some cases for their family. At the end of the semester, it is amazing and quite an honor to witness great progress and transformation in my students’ lives.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in becoming involved but aren’t sure where to start?

As an alumna, I would encourage all students to get involved with one or more student organizations at Rollins. It’s the best way to meet other students and get to know the community. Your days of service to the Rollins, Orlando, and global communities will serve as a blueprint for anywhere you live or work after your Rollins days.

If you don’t know where to start, think about what you most enjoy doing or would like to do for fun. Your interests, hobbies, and ideas can help guide you to find (or start) the organization that best meets your need. Through being involved and engaged as a student, you may find your life’s calling, purpose, or passion which could lead to a future career or job later!

Honoring the life and legacy of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, MLK Celebration runs January 16-21. Join us in paying homage to King’s work toward equality and economic justice for all people.

By Laura J. Cole

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