Western Washington University Alumni Association

Raven Benko

Major - Biology (Marine), Environmental Policy
Hometown - Boulder, CO

“A simple thank you does not encompass the gratitude I feel for receiving the Alumni Association Leader Scholarship."

I had a fairly unique childhood experience. I grew up living part time in Boulder, CO and part time on the Big Island of Hawaii. This dual residency allowed to me cultivate a love for the natural world, and thus inspired my passion for the environment. I always knew I had to do whatever in my power to protect and preserve the wonderful world that has taught me everything I know. I also wish to inspire the same passion in others. It goes without saying that leadership ability will be necessary to achieve either of these goals. That is why I have enjoyed and embraced many leadership positions in my past, and plan to continue developing my leadership abilities as I continue with my education.

I come from a family of extremely hard workers. Both of my parents own their own businesses and work day and night to see their success. Despite their hard work, we have always been burdened with financial hardship. Because of this, I am paying for my education with financial aid, student loans, and my own personal savings. This scholarship will help diminish future debt by allowing me to take out less in loans. I will also be able to work less throughout the school year and direct more attention to my studies. It is much needed and very much appreciated. Furthermore, it is an honor and a privilege to be recognized for leadership potential. I am so grateful and excited to be one of the students representing Western Washington University in leadership and will work very hard to give back to our wonderful university.

I truly love learning in and out of the classroom. I have enjoyed learning how to play the piano and guitar, and love strengthening my vocal abilities. I constantly work to improve my musical skills. I also have a passion for dance. I have been taking latin dance lessons for two years, and have recently begun learning blues and swing dance. As I have been in Colorado for the summer, I spend my weekends volunteering at a local puppy rescue, interning with the Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks Department, completing an open water diving certification, and spending time outdoors.

My life has definitely been full of experiences. I could tell you about my mother’s battle with cancer when I was ten years old, and how I felt pieces of myself crumble as I saw her wasting away. I could tell you about meeting my best friend, because her friendship has taught me more about love than anything else. I could detail my scholastic achievements or professional experiences, as they have certainly contributed to who I am. But most importantly, my life has prepared me to be completely unprepared for life. I choose not to cater my education toward a job and a salary and a title, because what I can do with my life outside of my personal successes and challenges is what actually matters. This doesn’t mean I don’t have goals and ambitions, because I do, and many of them are exceedingly outlandish and unlikely. But I have learned that any goal is worth having as long as it will benefit someone or something other than one’s self. And that, I think, is what truly makes me who I am.



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Western Washington University
Alumni Association

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Bellingham, WA 98225
360.650.3353 | alumni.wwu.edu
WWU is an equal opportunity institution.