Sherry Benson of Marinette, who received her bachelor’s degree in Social Work with summa cum laude (highest) honors, was the graduating class speaker for spring commencement Saturday, May 18 at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
She chose as her theme the phrase “It’s all about me,” and used it to encourage her 650 fellow graduates and the Kress Events Center crowd of nearly 5,000 to contribute to society, each other and the greater good.
“Think about the power that every one of you sitting before me has in the single event of standing in front of the mirror every morning saying, ‘It’s all about me’” to make a positive difference,” Benson said.
Benson is a returning adult student who has had a significant impact both on campus and in the community as an advocate for children and families. President of the Wisconsin Foster and Adoptive Parent Association since 2003, she has been a statewide leader with significant responsibilities to the families the organization represents and the public agencies that rely on these families to aid in the care of neglected and abused children. She has been a speaker at regional and national conferences on the topic of out-of-home care and the merits of family foster care vs. the orphanage model.
Benson drew a big laugh from her audience when she described getting ready on commencement morning and being greeted by her granddaughter, who noted it was a day of terrific importance. “Why is that?” the grandmother asked.
“Nana, today is my half-birthday,” the girl responded. Said Benson to the crowd, “Talk about taking the wind out of my sails!”
Benson has been accepted into the master’s program in Social Work cosponsored by UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh, with an ultimate goal of becoming a psychotherapist and counseling children and families involved in the child welfare system.