Seminole State College student Jeston Bennett has been selected to speak at Higher Ed Day at the Capitol in Oklahoma City on February 14. He will discuss his experience as a nontraditional student at SSC and the importance of education and earning a degree.
Bennett was raised in Conchise, Arizona. At the age of 17, he joined the United States Navy and served for over three years before an injury led to an honorable medical discharge.
Upon leaving the military, Bennett considered college, but knew it wasn’t the right time. “Because of my children and other responsibilities, I put my life on hold,” he explained.
Bennett began his career as a truck driver and eventually went on to start his own business called “Happy Trails,” where he owned and operated a dozen trucks.
After 20 years in the trucking business, Bennett decided it was time for a life change. “Because of my disability, I could no longer sit for long periods of time. I met with the Veterans Administration and through their Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program, I was given the opportunity to attend college to prepare for another line of work,” Bennet said.
Bennett decided to attend nursing school at Seminole State. “One of my friends, an SSC nursing school graduate, recommended the program to me,” he said, adding that the College is also close– about seven miles from his home.
Bennett began his college journey at SSC in January, 2015. “I was scared to death – terrified – to attend with younger students just out of high school who were used to the classroom environment. I was so afraid of failing,” he admitted.
It didn’t take long though, before Bennett felt right at home. “The instructors here are helpful, polite and concerned about you. They are all very approachable,” he said, adding “I’ve learned and attained more knowledge here than I believe I would have at a University.”
Bennett – who holds a 4.0 grade-point-average – explained that his strong work ethic and past experiences have helped contribute to his success as a student. “I’ve learned to treat school like I would my job,” he said.
Bennett stressed to other nontraditional students like himself, “If you are afraid you are going to be alone if you come back to school – don’t be. SSC is the most accepting campus, regardless of age, with the nicest teachers and students.”
Bennett, a current sophomore at SSC, will graduate this May with an Associate in Applied Science. He has applied to the College’s nursing program and hopes to begin this fall. Upon completion of the nursing program, Bennett would like to work for the Veterans Health Administration in OKC. “I want to help fellow disabled veterans. I hope to make a positive change in their lives” he explained.
Outside of school, Bennett enjoys fishing, river canoeing, gardening, riding his motorcycle and building things – usually out of metal. “I’ve made bumpers, swing sets, handlebars – really anything that needs to be built. I’ve even built a few houses over the years.” he said.
In his spare time, he plays in a band for fun. “I sing and play the guitar, fiddle and mandolin. We mostly play Christian and Rock,” Bennett said.
Bennett also enjoys spending time with his family. He has five daughters and two sons, along with nine grandchildren. He and his wife Tara reside in Earlsboro.