Waynisha Gaston attended a White Breakfast in California a few years ago, and afterward some Belles talked to her about Bennett College.
“They talked to me about why they loved attending an HBCU, showed me photos of opportunities they had and explained how they were gracefully evolving into women while attending Bennett,” Gaston said. “At that same White Breakfast I listened to the parent testimonies about their experience with the College and how proud and grateful they were to know their daughters were being loved, protected and supported far from home. Their testimonies, the Southern California HBCU Picnic and some research all attracted me to Bennett.”
Gaston was enrolled at another institution at the time but eventually transferred to Bennett, some 2,500 miles from her Los Angeles home.
So far she hasn’t regretted the decision.
“Bennett College has met my expectations as far as one-on-one opportunities with faculty and staff regarding my matriculation, global studies experiences and community engagement with the surrounding churches in the area,” Gaston said. “I’m glad I enrolled at Bennett College.”
Gaston, a junior business administration major, is making the most of her time at Bennett. She serves as Miss NAACP and sits on the campus chapter’s executive board. She is an Orientation Leader, a member of the Social Work Club and President of the Student Christian Fellowship.
Additionally, she traveled with Bennett College President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins and several other students to South Africa during the summer of 2017 as part of the 2017 Mellon Initiative, and this fall she represented Bennett at New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, where she made an appeal for donations to the College.
“I wasn’t nervous because I’ve spoken at many L.A. churches on a number of topics, including gun violence, education, immigration and the threat of homelessness among emancipated youth,” Gaston said. “I enjoyed representing Bennett in that fashion and believe my testimony was effective. In fact, I’ve reached out to participate in many other events with New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, especially on topics of voter registration and encouraging youth to vote.”
Yolande Johnson ’83, community campaigns coordinator for the College and the person who arranges for Belles to make appeals at area churches, said Waynisha is just the type of student Bennett aims to attract.
“Waynisha is a very focused young lady who is driven yet compassionate and demonstrates her love for people in her role as Miss NAACP,” Johnson said. “I’ve known Waynisha since she transferred to Bennett and have found her to be a caring young woman who always thinks of others. “
Dawkins said she’s proud to have students like Gaston at Bennett.
“I got to know Waynisha while we were in South Africa during the summer,” Dawkins said. “Likewise, I recently met with her about an event she’s planning for the campus in January. I find Waynisha to be very serious about her studies and community outreach. She’s an asset to our student body.”
Next year on January 26 and 27, Gaston will intern as an assistant special projects associate for The New Zealand Basketball Combine being hosted by Ball-Elite Media Group. The event is being held in the Ida B. Goode Gymnasium.
“I hope the event will be well-attended,” Gaston said. “One of my goals moving forward is to try to get as many Belles as possible to attend events on campus. Bennett is a wonderful institution with a lot to offer, but my sister Belles have to make sure they take advantage of the opportunities we’re afforded here. Being at Bennett College has been a blessing to me, and that’s why I recommend Bennett to as many young women as I can.”