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Student Sony Benjamain Hopes to Inspire Other Immigrants Seeking College Opportunity

October 5, 2018

Portrait of Sony Benjamain

Sony Benjamain (Photo by Samuel Kim)

During his childhood in Haiti, Sony Benjamain, a construction management major, dreamt of coming to the United States and pursuing a four-year college degree at a reputable university. His path would eventually lead him to Wentworth.

Benjamain’s dream correlated directly with his experience of working in his parents’ construction business with his particular interest coming in construction management.

“I really enjoyed the idea of overseeing an entire construction project and building something that when you drive by, you know it's part of your creation,” Benjamain said.

Benjamain’s track began when he and his family moved to the United States in 2007. He spoke little English, but took language classes at Boston Adult Technical Academy, where he received his high school diploma. Benjamain then earned an associate degree in architecture from Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in 2013.

He didn’t stop there. He trained in the U.S. Army from April to August 2017, with plans to attend officer candidate school and eventually become a lieutenant. But his dream to graduate from a four-year university still burned strong, even though he faced an uphill battle due to cultural, financial, and other difficulties as a first-generation immigrant.

“When you come to the United States as an immigrant, you deal with challenges like language barriers that you need to overcome,” Benjamain said. “It’s difficult to get through, especially when you don’t have a network of people that know what you’re going through and can help you through it.”

Drawn to Wentworth for its co-op requirement and its strong construction management program, Benjamain discovered that what he was learning translated directly to what he did on co-op, and vice versa. He also discovered that the team presentations and group projects he conducted in his classes helped him learn how to collaborate and work on a team, and he was able to build a network.

“The moment you start your first co-op, you are no longer just a student, you are part of the workforce,” Benjamain said. “You build an idea of what you want to do and what your passions are, and when you go back to classes after co-op, you find that your eyes are opened. You begin to understand why things are done a certain way.”

Benjamain found his passion in combining his loves for construction management and helping others. Namely, Benjamain is striving to create a network for students going through similar struggles. Through sharing things like resources and job opportunities, Benjamain hopes that new immigrants attending universities in Massachusetts will find an easier time and can feel encouraged and motivated to persevere.

Other long-term goals for Benjamain include opening his own general residential contracting company. He sees Wentworth Trustee Greg Janey, ARS, BCM ’04, Hon. ’17, president of Janey Construction Management and Consulting Inc. in Boston, as an inspiration, citing Janey’s example of a Wentworth student applying their experiences and education to go on to become a leader in their field.

“I’m so proud to be a part of Wentworth,” he said. “I’m very confident for the future, because the school puts you out there in the workplace… [My time here] was 110% worth it.”

--Samuel Kim

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