By DENISE SEYFER
Tears fall and hearts break for the family and friends of Jessica Benson, a missing Caroline Scholar at Mount Mary College and senior chemistry major. Supporters pray, cry and console each other May 22 at Educators Credit Union on West Appleton Ave. in Milwaukee where Jessica worked.
Wayne Benson, Jessica’s uncle, remembers her strength and intelligence. Jessica rose above the drugs and the crime which surrounded her home life, he said.
On May 14, Jessica Benson was reported missing to the Milwaukee Police Department. According to missingjessicabenson.org, she was last seen on May 9 and last heard from on May 11.
“I knew something was wrong when Jessica didn’t show up for class,” said Shameka Moore, a fellow Caroline Scholar at Mount Mary. “She never missed class.”
Concern turned to worry when Jessica missed her final exams the week of May 13.
“She was a week away from graduation … and wouldn’t have missed her last week,” said Carissa Ihm, another Caroline Scholar at Mount Mary. “She was very responsible.”
Jessica Benson designated more than 300 hours a year serving others in the Milwaukee area just to keep her scholarship.
An embodiment of Mount Mary’s mission in social justice, Jessica volunteered and mentored at Pathfinders, a non-profit organization that empowers youth in crisis to make positive life choices through an array of services including shelters, group homes, education programs, a drop-in center and clinical services. Jessica also participated in efforts on campus to inform and register voters.
Olivia Stitch, a Mount Mary art therapy recent grad, knows and describes Jessica as extremely hard-working. She was funny and laughed a lot once you got to know her. To others who didn’t know her, Jessica appeared quiet and reserved, Stitch said.
Caroline Scholars like Jessica are selected based on their examples of community service and ethic for helping others. As Jessica worked her way through the scholars program, she explored the needs of her community. She led by example and excellence in social justice leadership and project management. These are the core expectations of the scholarship she was awarded.
“Out of all [the Caroline Scholars] I told Jessica ‘I want you to succeed the most,’” Ihm said. “I don’t want her legacy ruined with rumor and speculation. We should remember who she is.”
The Milwaukee Police Department asks everyone for help.
“Anyone with information is asked to call Milwaukee Police Sensitive Crimes at 414-935-7405,” said Sergeant Mark Stanmeyer of the Milwaukee Police Department.
For more articles on Jessica Benson and Mount Mary’s Caroline Scholars program click the following links: