It's all about the future, says Africa University benefactor
Remembering her two-year stint in the Peace Corps 50 years ago, the Rev. Gaye G. Benson decided it would be fun to visit Chile again. She started a travel fund, but God had another plan for her $6,000: Give it to Africa University. So, she did.
"I grew up in a farm family in Indiana," Gaye said. "Cash was tight, but we always had everything we needed." At 15, she enrolled at Shimer College in Illinois. She graduated in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in natural science. From there, she entered the two-year Master of Arts in Teaching program at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
|The Rev. Gaye G. Benson.|
"By the end of the ﬁrst year," she admitted, "I'd found I really didn't want to be a high school teacher. Not knowing what to do with myself, I applied for the Peace Corps. It represented an opportunity to do something important and meaningful, and I liked the idea of learning about new places and people." She landed in Chile on her 21st birthday.
After the Peace Corps, Gaye earned an M.S. degree in community development and later, a Ph.D. in political science. She was a community development specialist in Missouri and Michigan and a political science professor at California Polytechnic State University.
"I started seminary about the same time Africa University was starting," Gaye said. "I've been watching it ever since. I enjoyed hearing the AU choir at two General Conferences and at the California-Nevada Annual Conference."
"Formal education has been an important part of my life," she said, "yet, I paid only a small portion of the true costs. When I read in the Acacia newsletter that more than half of the students accepted did not have funding, I decided to give the $6,000. My donation to Africa University is just passing on a portion of the opportunity given me.
"I'm convinced," she added, "that, in the end, there is really only one family – the human family – and it has just one story, though in many different versions, languages and chapters. I am deeply grateful to God for my life, for the love and support I've known over the years, for laughter and tears and everything in between. I'm hopeful about the future and glad that Africa University and its students and graduates are helping shape it."
Barbara Dunlap-Berg, a freelance writer and editor.
A World Service Special Gift is a designated financial contribution made by an individual, local church, organization, district or annual conference to a project authorized as such by the Connectional Table. Current World Service Special Gifts projects include the Africa University Endowment Fund, the Leonard Perryman Communications Scholarship for Ethnic Minority Students, the Methodist Global Education Fund, the National Anti-Gambling Project and the Lay Missionary Planting Network.