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Looking beyond the finish line: Donor hopes scholarship broadens student perspectives

By Allen M. Junek ‘18

Race horses are given a set of blinders to prevent them from seeing behind or around them. Blinders’ sole purpose are to narrow the animal’s line of vision so that it will stay focused on the finish line and nothing else.

Galloping toward the finish line, pursuing a singular goal, unable to look behind or side to side makes for a great race horse. When it comes to people, however, these limitations don’t have the same benefits.

“With a liberal arts degree, you don’t have the blinders. The liberal arts, and the education they bring, allow you to experience the whole world, not just a slice of it,” Jack Benson ‘63 said.

That’s the mission of the College of Liberal Arts–to remove the blinders. By equipping students with the ability to learn from the past, experience the present, and aim for the future, the College is working hard to develop the well-educated leaders of tomorrow.

In support of this mission,

“Studying abroad gives students the experience needed for understanding new cultures, and it also informs them of why Americans think and live the way they do,” Carol said.

While Jack himself didn’t get the opportunity to study abroad during his time at Texas A&M, he had the opportunity to travel and gain international experience as an officer in the U.S. Army following graduation. He was stationed in Bamberg, Germany, where he and Carol were married.

While overseas, the Bensons were able to travel around much of Western Europe, which, Jack said, helped broaden his global perspective–a transformation he hopes recipients of the scholarship will also experience.

Carol echoed her husband’s sentiments, emphasizing the importance of respecting the traditions and practices of other cultures. The secret, she said, is the ability to adapt–a skill cultivated through the broad knowledge, open dialogue, and hands-on learning that are developed in Liberal Arts.

“A liberal arts education encourages critical thinking and problem solving. It encourages understanding and acceptance of different cultures and societies,” Carol said.

Jack said he hopes creating this scholarship not only allows deserving students to study abroad, but also inspires them to follow his lead and one day support the College of Liberal Arts so that future generations of Aggies learn to see the world without blinders.

“I hope that in time they would consider giving back so students in the future might be able to have that same experience,” Benson said.

For more information on how you can impact students and faculty in your preferred area in the College of Liberal Arts, please contact Larry J. Walker II.

Check out more Donor Spotlights to see how giving can impact both you and the College of Liberal Arts.