Passion for Learning Sparks Capital Student’s Continuing Education Frank Bennett’s face is aglow as he hurries to class at Capital Community College. He weaves his body and full backpack between students less than one-third his age, their faces buried in thier cell phones.
He says he looks forward to the daily obstacle course. To look at Frank now, with his calm, bright, and unassuming smile, you’d never suspect childhood traumas, substance abuse, and homelessness paved the rocky road leading to his current contentment. After graduating high school Frank joined the Air Force. Aptitude tests determined he’d be a good nurse. During his nine-year tenure, he served as an Emergency Medical Technician and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), surgical instrument technician, and medical supplies quartermaster for a mobile army surgical hospital.
So when Frank retired from both the United States Air Force and the U.S. Veterans Affairs Administration after nearly 34 years, sitting on the couch and watching television proved unsatisfying. In an attempt to get back in the swing of things he enrolled in Capital’s Continuing Education Community Health Worker Program.
“What a great experience. I’d always had a love for learning and Professor Joel Rivera is excellent at explaining things in different ways so that students get it. After that course, and doing so well, I had the confidence to go for my next challenge, completing the Mental Health First Aid Certificate, which I finished in June 2017. Now I’m on to getting my Associates Degree in Social Services”, Frank states with pride.
Without question, the Continuing Education Department at Capital Community College was certainly a big part of my journey. I was supported there. The staff and instructors care that you make it. I had the desire to learn and make a difference. They helped show me the way.
Regarding his career choice, he explains, I got into the Community Health Worker Program because it matches my love of helping people, with the knowledge to connect them with useful information and resources. I want to be an advocate for veterans, substance abusers, and the homeless. My goal is to have people live full and healthy lives. I’m already making connections while still in school, and I’ve been sharing them.”
Part of that sharing involves heading up Capital’s Seniors Ambassadors Club, a student group for those over 62, and leading one-and-a-half-hour exercise programs at Hartford area senior centers. “I’m teaching folks how to exercise throughout their lifespan” Frank says. “You’d be amazed at what these seniors are doing.” He adds, “Age is just a number. Look at me at 68 I can run circles around some 20 year olds. I’ve learned I can compete. Life experience, if you use it properly can lead you to a whole new level of living. I’m engaged and I’m enthused because learning is fun. Capital really reinvigorated my passion for learning. I love this place.”
Libby E. Daniels, Club Advisor