Sandy Bennett is the real deal. As Ohlone’s EOPS Care Coordinator she serves each and every day and works hard to meet the educational needs of students hindered by personal challenges, language barriers, and/or difficult socioeconomic backgrounds. Sandy goes above and beyond each and every day.
“I’m rewarded each day when I see that I can help someone,” says Bennett. “It’s my job to help guide students and to show them all of the resources that we offer at Ohlone. My hope is that they leave my office with the world lifted off of their shoulders.”
While her day-to-day rewards are priceless, it never hurts to be officially recognized. This year Bennett was named one of the California School Employees Association (CSEA) Members of the Year. Only four other CSEA members were chosen for this prestigious award for 2019. The CSEA Member of the Year Program recognizes the commitment and dedication of classified employees to the students of California, community involvement, and activism in CSEA. She will receive her award at CSEA's 93rd Annual Conference held this week at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas.
Bennett’s work is a testament to the EOPS philosophy: To ensure that all students are given equal opportunity for academic success by providing support services to enhance self-esteem, foster pride and dignity, motivate those whom the program serves, and to enable students to effective define and pursue career goals. And she does it all with a smile, never turning off her altruistic outlook on life.
“Regardless of what’s going on with her department, her career, or simply with life, her interactions are with complete attention and care with whomever she is dealing with,” says Steven Kiefel, a colleague from the Leadership Academy that Bennett runs at Ohlone outside of her regular job duties.
In her role, Bennett is always helping students and making sure she’s done everything in her power to engage with their struggle—keeping them front and center as they navigate through the college experience.
Over the past year, she has been working hard on a project aimed to increase awareness of the EOPS program and the various types of students Ohlone serves. She and a designer have developed a set of characters known as THE CREW (College Students Reaching for Education Working Together). The characters serve to promote and bring to life the experiences of alumni and current EOPS students; they share stories of hope, courage, and strength.
Sandy has served the Ohlone Community College District for 24 years. During her time here, she has been awarded the 2018 Ohlone College Employee of the Year and received the 2008 California Community College Leadership Award for Outstanding Service. In 2015 Sandy coordinated the Classified Staff Professional Development Program and, in the fall of 2017, started the Leadership Academy—a professional development program created to help grow, develop, and engage staff to take on more leadership opportunities at the College.
Outside of her work at Ohlone, Bennett is an active member of her local community and church and has self-published two books: Diamond in the Rough (2000) and her latest, Hungry for Love: God’s Word Seasoning with the R.I.G.H.T Ingredients (2019).