Sherry Benson of Marinette, who will receive her bachelor’s degree in Social Work with summa cum laude (highest) honors, has been selected to be the student speaker for spring commencement Saturday, May 18 at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
She was nominated for the honor by faculty members in the Professional Program in Social Work. The selection was made by a committee consisting of several of the University’s top officers including the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and academic deans.
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 received the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Program Development in 2009 for helping to establish a 24-hour helpline for foster and adoptive parents.
Over the last 20 years, Benson has been a foster parent to more than 40 children, bringing them into her home for anywhere from a few months to five years or more to join her own family of biological, adopted and step-children.
She has worked professionally as a parent aide and visitation supervisor for the Marinette County Department of Health and Human Services and currently is employed part time with a community counseling agency. During her junior year field placement for the UW-Green Bay Social Work program, she worked with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Marinette. Among other duties, she developed a guide to assist individuals living in poverty to achieve self-sufficiency.
Benson has been accepted to the collaborative master’s degree program in social work sponsored by UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh. She has declared a goal of becoming a psychotherapist and counseling children and families involved in the child welfare system.
She transferred to UW-Green Bay in 2011 after receiving her associate degree with highest honors from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.