The proud new American citizen began his journey in 2000. That’s when Bennett left his hometown in Ghana to explore opportunities in the United States, where he quickly settled on the military.
He spent five years in the Navy, where he eventually took a supply test to qualify for a promotion to petty officer third class, which was followed later by a promotion to second class. Following the 9/11 attacks, he served overseas as a plane captain. (The plane captain is a ground position designed to help the pilot start the aircraft, and then take off.) From the deck of an aircraft carrier, he put the skills to use with his squadron stationed near Afghanistan in 2001 and near Iraq in 2003.
In each mission, Bennett and his squadron loaded fighter jets with supplies so they could be launched into action. While on official standby on his base in the United States in 2004, he was critically injured in a crash involving the military vehicle he was riding in. As he awoke from a coma two weeks later, Bennett discovered his right leg had been amputated just above the knee. He also suffered multiple fractures, breaks and bruises. His long recovery included learning how to walk with a prosthetic leg.
Those enormous challenges could have proved to be a road block for some, but not for Bennett. Once released and independent again, he moved to Columbus and began looking at opportunities in higher education. With the military picking up the tab, there were few restrictions on where he could attend.
He settled on Columbus State and began taking classes during Winter Quarter 2007. “I felt welcome here,” says Bennett. The professors and instructors here treat me as their own son or brother. It was a perfect fit.”
Faculty members give him high marks across the board. “Bennett is one of the most committed students I know,” says Lee Blyth, associate professor of Logistics. “He never hesitates to come to my office for clarification of course material. On several occasions he has told me how much he loves the U.S. and the people in this country. He’s never used his handicap as a crutch. His attitude is the main reason he achieved what he has at this point in his life.”
Bennett Ayebeafo graduated last December 11 with two associate degrees in Logistics: Supply Chain Management and Strategic Procurement. Bennett’s goal is to earn a bachelor’s in Logistics then perhaps settle into a career with a government agency as a purchasing manager. And in Bennett’s case, two tours of duty plus two associate degrees equals a whole lot of experience and opportunity.