Saturday, September 26, 2020

Bennett encourages change-makers

Plattsburgh State marketing major Nelda Bennett demonstrates all the best qualities of a natural-born leader. Bennett has been heavily involved in clubs since her freshman year at PSUC and today, as a junior, she is the vice president of Plattsburgh’s Association of Black Journalists, as well as historian for Black Onyx, PSUC’s Black Student Union.

Bennett was born and raised in Honduras but currently lives in Bronx, New York. She was first attracted to PSUC because she was getting tired of being in a city and wanted to be in a more natural environment like where originally she grew up.

Bennett said she has always been involved on campus. However, she was hesitant to join PABJ too early in her college career.

“Since my freshman year, I’ve been involved in so many clubs,” Bennett said. “I joined [PABJ] when I felt that I had the right experience.”

She decided she was ready last spring when her friend told her to run for a position in the organization.

She said the club feels like family and has helped her grow. The same goes for Black Onyx she said.

Bennett appreciates all the hands-on work she gets to do at PSUC and tries to actively create change with it. To do her part, she contributes in organizing marches and producing effective strategies to get more students aware about social inequalities going on in our community.

Bennett also gives tours for the PSUC admissions office intermittently.

“It’s cool because you don’t realize how much you know about your school and how proud you are until people start to ask you questions,” Bennett said.

She said people sometimes ask what her favorite memories at PSUC are, and she usually has difficulty choosing. However, if she had to pick, because she enjoys organizing events and bringing people together, one of her favorite memories was when she helped organize the “Let’s Get Uncomfortable” march when the Black Lives Matter movement was becoming more widely known.

“It was good seeing people actually come to our meetings and create posters with us and actually march on campus and off campus and stand for something,” Bennett said. “It was stressful too but also really rewarding.”

Political science major Antwan Clark has known Bennett since they were freshmen and said the two clicked instantly when they realized they shared similar goals. Both are interested in creating social change on campus. They both agreed that there needed to be a more dominant voice for students to unite, get involved and become change-makers.

When Clark and Bennett met, he noticed that she was more of an observer and would communicate or participate when she was interested in the topic. He also noted that Bennett does a fantastic job of balancing everything she does.

“She can juggle everything because she really cares,” Clark said. “She really wants to create change. She leads by passion.”

As a freshman, Bennett admits to being “a little all over the place” when it came to keeping up with her responsibilities. After being part of various clubs and organizations at PSUC, Bennett has learned how to balance her duties. She said a good tip is to buy a nice, somewhat expensive planner so you feel guilty if you don’t use it. It wasn’t without time and practice that Bennett began getting the hang of being someone others looked to for guidance.

“I think that I’m starting to become a leader more,” Bennett said. “I used to hide in the shadows and observe what people were doing, but now I’m actually doing more of a leadership thing.”

Junior public relations major Jainaba Darboe is the director of PR for PABJ and became friends with Bennett quickly after they met outside Wilson Hall in their freshman year. She said Bennett’s smile was one of the first things she noticed about her along with her bubbly personality. Clark and Darboe both said that Bennett is almost always in a good mood and, on the off chance she’s having a bad day, she does her best to stay positive.

“I think she’s an amazing leader,” Darboe said. “She doesn’t dominate. She gives people a chance to speak.”

Bennett sees herself living in Montreal or New York City and continuing to broaden her marketing career in a creative company. After visiting Montreal last November, she “fell in love” and simply “crossed the border and felt at home.”

Clark said he sees Bennett working for a Fortune 500 company because she is so passionate about what she is doing. He said Bennett is a “silent role model on campus for upcoming women.”

“She’s a natural-born leader,” Darboe said. “She’s always going to be an advocate for other people.”

Email Laura Schmidt at opinions@cardinalpointsonline.com

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