Reality is just beginning to set in for Doretha Benn, East Tennessee State University’s newly elected Student Government Association president.
“Politics isn’t really my thing,” she says. Instead, she adds, “I have a passion for helping others. I want to listen to what the community around me has to say, understand the needs that are expressed and work to fill those needs.”
Benn would like the student body to know how grateful she is for the support she received in the recent election. “Thanks for believing in our team,” she says. “Zack Sholes, Taylor Dunn and I will work our hardest to follow the vision we have for the university and to deliver on our promises.”
A sophomore majoring in Communication Studies, Benn is a native of Knoxville. She first saw ETSU when she visited a cousin attending here. “This was the most beautiful campus I’d ever seen,” she remembers.
Benn is keeping her options for the future open. Her experiences in Communication Studies have been positive. She notes, “The faculty is amazing. Classes don’t just focus on passing tests, but on true learning.”
She does know that she would like to run a non-profit organization, eventually. A degree in Communication Studies is ideal for her, she says, because communication is the key to helping others and to getting solutions to problems.
Benn credits the Brenda White Wright Emerging Leaders Academy with helping her progress as a leader. She was in the inaugural Academy class, where she met Dunn, the new SGA Secretary/treasurer.
“The idea of servant leadership is very important,” she says. “People follow those who have the needs of everyone in mind and are willing to work for others.”
Another major influence in her college career has been volunteering as a Diversity Educator. “I thought I knew a great deal about diversity,” she explains, “but I keep learning more — things I hadn’t considered before. Words and terms carry so much weight and meaning. Saying something as common as ‘Hey, guys’ excludes a whole group of people.”
One honor she has received seems very appropriate. Benn was presented with the 2014 Tait Obadiah White Award, given in honor of a young man whose ETSU career was ended by his unexpected death from a rare blood disorder. The award encourages others with his open-minded, open-hearted spirit.