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Alumnae Stories

Deaweh Benson Creates Her International Legacy

November 2018

When alumna Deaweh Benson graduated as the valedictorian of Spelman's class of 2012, she immediately embarked upon a career in business as a management trainee with McMaster-Carr Supply Co., a supplier to industrial and commercial facilities worldwide. Today, Benson's purpose and her passion has taken her miles away from McMaster-Carr to Shenzhen City, Guangdong, China where she serves as an English teacher.

Leaving her Mark in China

"China has been amazing," said Benson. In such a short time, I've been confronted with so many things that have forced me to analyze myself. I'm just trying to soak it all in." She created a blog, "Murmurs of a Millennial," to record and share her thoughts.

She writes, "I CRIED FOR TWO DAYS when I found that my teaching placement was in Yantian, one of the seven districts of Shenzhen. As the mature young woman I am, I called my mom to complain. “I’m stuck by the beaches, and I’m far out from everything,” I cried. “You’re stuck by the beach?” she asked. (I hate when she repeats me). “I’m far from everything!” I continued. “What are you far away from?” she asked.

She just wasn’t getting it. I whisked her off the phone with some pitiful excuse and went for a run. Just 15 minutes into my run, I happened upon one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen: a morning on Yantian’s sea shore. It was as if God was repeating my mother’s question, “What are you far away from?”

. . . Yantian is home to many of Shenzhen’s beaches, its tallest mountain, and like the rest of the city—it is teeming with new economic activity. One City, a large shopping center, recently opened the Nike Factory store, Starbucks, and a host of restaurants and shops. The district also has a bike town feel with most residents using bikes to get around town. However, unlike the other six districts, the train system does not yet reach Yantian, and buses in China are not for the faint of heart!

Exemplifying Excellence at Spelman

Deaweh_Benson-ValedictorianA psychology major, English minor, with a 3.99 GPA, Benson left her mark at Spelman as a Phi Beta Kappa inductee with a dedication to both academics and campus leadership.  

Benson served as a residential adviser, Writing Center tutor, executive editor of the Spelman Spotlight, and public service chair of the Eta Kappa Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  She also interned with Coca-Cola Refreshments, BET and Exxon Mobil Community Summer Jobs Program; was named a national winner in the Executive Leadership Council's "Wealth of Diversity" essay contest; and participated in The PhD Project, a program designed to encourage minorities to pursue business doctoral studies. She was also a Vicki R. Palmer Scholar and sixth-place winner in the Executive Leadership Council National Essay Competition. 
  
As a native of Washington, D.C., Benson said her support system at Spelman played an integral part in her academic success. 

"My support system was my closest Spelman sisters and my professors. I had a lot of faculty members in the English department and the LEADS Center who were my mentors." She added, "I also came to understand the importance of determination and the importance of setting goals and striving for those goals."

Benson plans to pursue a doctorate in strategic management and utilize her skills to advance minority business development.

Read more about Benson's experiences in China on her blog.