It Takes a Family: The Bennetts

It Takes a Family: The Bennetts


There are few transitions more agonizing than that of one’s children leaving home and entering the wider world. For many families, college is a way to ease that transition. This makes college choice an even more daunting prospect as parents and students must find the right balance of size, rigor and campus ethos that can support and encourage rather than damage that transition.

These were some of the concerns that Steve and Malia Bennett were weighing when it came time for their eldest son, Chris, to head off to college.

When our oldest son was a senior in high school, USAO wasn’t even on our radar until my husband saw an article ranking the university as one of the best educational values in the nation,” Malia recalled.

“Chris and I attended a scholars retreat at USAO and we were both convinced this was right for him--small class sizes, high Ph.D. to student ratio, faculty and staff that really knows the students, great options for on campus living and so much more. “

By his own reckoning, Chris had been “legitimately intimidated by some of the larger campuses around the state.”

“I found the prospect of a cozy, tightly-knit college experience to be quite attractive,” Chris said.

Being situated in an environment conducive to learning doesn’t guarantee success but Chris found that USAO’s faculty more than delivered on the university’s promises.

“Your college experiences lives or dies by the quality of your professors, and the ones I had at USAO were not only impressively brilliant, but also had their own charming quirks and idiosyncrasies in abundance, along with exceptionally strong rapport with their students,” Chris said.

Chris spent four years at USAO, earning a bachelor of arts in English along with minors in liberal arts, French and drama (now theatre arts).

Today, Chris attends the University of Oklahoma where he works as a teaching assistant while in pursuit of his master’s degree in English.

This would be a success story for the Bennetts and the university if it ended right here.

But, it doesn’t. Meet Laura and Rachel.

Already familiar with USAO because of their older brother’s experience, twins Laura and Rachel shared similar sentiments about why they chose the university.

“I chose USAO because of the small class sizes and emphasis on individual student learning,” Rachel said. “I almost certainly wouldn’t have gone into the physics major at a larger university where the amount of attention I would have gotten would be significantly smaller.”

“I chose USAO because of its affordability, excellent scholarship opportunities and amazing professors,” added Laura.

The Bennett sisters share a double major of physics and history – in the true spirit of USAO’s interdisciplinary heritage.

Malia and Steve remain pleased with their family’s choice to go all in with USAO.

“The girls were selected this year to attend a national conference for Women in Physics, and enjoy their courses, their professors and their fellow students,” Malia said. “Like their brother, they’re involved with friends and activities on campus and are thriving at USAO.”

“It has been an excellent choice for all three of our children, and my husband and I would recommend it highly for others considering USAO for their children.”