“There’s so much I was able to experience here that I couldn’t have experienced anywhere else,” Jen Bennett said as she reflected on her college experience. “The hikes, the closeness of the temple, just everything made BYUH a unique experience in every way.”
Bennett, who is originally from Alberta, Canada, served a mission in the Carlsbad, California area. She graduated on Dec. 14 with a degree in social work.
When asked why she chose social work as her major, Bennett said, “During my mission, I dealt with a lot of members who were undocumented immigrants, and some of them got deported and in some cases the families were separated. I was appalled by what was happening and decided to major in social work. I wanted to make a difference in the world by helping others.”
Before her mission, Bennett was studying biology. She said it was because she enjoyed the science and had excelled at it in high school. After her mission, she said she did not know where to go. Bennett said she was not sure if she should come back to BYUH. Subsequent to a meeting with a school counselor in Alberta, she decided to pursue a major in social work.
Following graduation, Bennett said she will begin an internship in Utah at the International Rescue Committee, an organization that helps refugees and other displaced persons.
Out of all the classes she had taken, Bennett said, “I think the class that had the biggest impact on me was peacebuilding. Going to class every day changed my perspective. It really helped my major as I learned to see people as people, and throw out any differences.
“My religion classes were also really influential. They made me feel the Savior’s love even more. Dr. Sharp and Dr. Bowen really made me remember who I am as a daughter of God.”
Matt Stripling, Bennett’s friend and a sophomore from Canada and an accounting major, said, “I’ve never met anyone as hard working and as dedicated as Jen. She has worked for everything she has, and understands the importance of putting off temporary things, like hanging out with friends, for the opportunities it will bring later on; but also understands that there is a balance to it.”
Bennett said a lot of her friends from her freshman year were some of the people who had impacted her the most. “They encouraged me to serve a mission and taught me how to better myself. One roommate even showed me that not all men were as terrible as my mom led me to believe. There was another roommate who was just the friendliest of all. She invited everyone to everything. Everyone was someone to her.”
Maryann Phillips, a senior from Washington state studying TESOL, said, “She’s been my friend since my first day in Hawaii. I like how she always includes everyone even if they are not a part of her regular friend group. She’s not judgmental no matter who you are.”