Alumni Spotlight

Just who is a typical CASL graduate?  The simple answer is that there is no such person.  CASL alumni have a diverse range of skills, talents, experiences, and goals.  By “spotlighting” someone every other month, we hope to introduce you to our diverse group of alums ... and maybe you'll see a familiar face.

Name:  Benita Robinson

Degree, discipline, graduation year:  Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies, April 2015

What are your current job responsibilities and/or volunteer activities?  I am currently working at Wayne County Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners Program located in midtown Detroit.  My title is On-Call Crisis Coordinator.  I provide on-call crisis intervention and advocacy to survivors of sexual assault at local hospitals and clinics.  This includes providing resources, offering our support services (counseling, legal and medical advocacy, etc.) and serving as a liaison and buffer for multiple entities such as the local police departments/law enforcement, hospital staff, and other agencies. I also supervise our First Responder volunteers who provide the same services to survivors of sexual assault in the Wayne County area. As a supervisor, I handle communications and scheduling for First Responders, in addition to conducting performance evaluations and quarterly meetings. Additionally, I recruit volunteers and coordinate the quarterly newsletter for the organization.

Does your career/volunteer work relate to what you studied at UM-Dearborn or is your degree in a totally different field?  I am proud to say that my career relates directly to the degree I received from UM-Dearborn. Much of what I learned in my classes related to social justice topics around race, gender, class, sexual identity, and a number of other social factors.  The populations I serve in Metro Detroit encompass diverse individuals holding a range of social statuses that sometimes advantage them and other times disadvantage them.  My studies at the university taught me about power and privilege and how to effectively be an ally and aide to others without imposing on their own rights to be empowered and make decisions for themselves.  My studies at the university is also related to my work in another way.  I learned an enormous amount from the hands on work I did through social justice work I was involved in on campus outside of the classroom.  Those experiences heightened my passion to work with survivors of abuse, whether it be sexual, physical, emotional, financial, or otherwise.  

Looking back at the classes you took, pick out one of your favorites and tell why.  Honestly, it is extremely difficult to choose one class that was my favorite.  I tool multiple classes with some of the same professors and I found each of them to be profound for different reasons and add significant value to my educational experience. 

One of my favorite classes was definitely Dissed: Difference, Power, and Discrimination.  This is a class I took with Professor Lora Lempert and was one of the first that exposed me to structural barriers that directly and indirectly impact the lives of minority populations.  This course caused me to evaluate my personal experiences and how societal institutions impacted my own life, not to mention the fact the Dr. Lempert is nothing short of remarkable and challenged me to think outside the box and support my stances on any given topic. 

Another class that had a huge impact on my educational career and was one of my favorites, Gender and Globalization with Dr. Suzanne Bergeron.  This is the first and only class I took that looked outside the U.S. and focused on structural barriers and activism on a global scale. During that class, I learned a lot about the role global policy plays in other countries and the lives of the individuals who live and work there.  This class was invaluable because it allowed me to check my own privilege as a citizen of the U.S. and apply what I learned about different cultures and customs to the cultural competency I practice today.

If there was a “favorite” professor(s), let us know and why.  I had a few favorite professors, but the two I would especially like to mention are Dr. Lora Lempert, who retired last year, and Dr. Suzanne Bergeron. 

Dr. Lempert was my mentor and continues to serve in that role. She had the ability to expand my mind in directions I had never fathomed.  Through her intense classes, my writing skills were enhanced and I grew more effective as a leader and activist. She was a professor who pushed her students to the limit because she saw potential that sometimes they didn’t see in themselves. She is just an amazing woman in general and leads by example. 

Dr. Bergeron is also a woman to be admired.  She is a ball of energy and excitement, which I have grown to love, appreciate, and look forward to (it also helped during those night classes).  The wealth of knowledge she offers cannot be matched…. Which is why I enrolled in every class of hers that I could.  Because of Dr. Bergeron, I am a better activist and even more hungry for equality and social justice than ever before.  She has encouraged me to step out on limbs I would have never imagined and I am a better person because of it.