"I chose to pursue a career dedicated to mental health and wellness because I was inspired by professors who shared stories of their work in the fields of social work and mental health."
Program: B.A. in Behavioral Science
Graduation Year: 2005
Current Job Title: Marriage and family therapist and adjunct professor at CBU
Life at CBU
Why did you choose CBU?
I have a long, rich family history with CBU. My grandmother, Ruth Bennett, was on the 1950s committee that helped select the CBC campus in Riverside. In the 1970s, my parents, Randy Bennett and Carol Bennett (nee’ Blackwell) met as CBC students working in the college dish room. This makes me a second-generation CBU alumni. My cousins and my sister, Sandra Hughes, also graduated from CBU.
Tell us a little about your time at CBU.
I attended CBU from 2001 to 2005. During my years at CBU, I was involved in CBU’s drama and speech programs. I was a member of the “Celebration” Drama team and the forensics team. In addition, I had roles in “The Music Man” and the One Act Festival. I also worked in student government as the vice president of Simmons Hall, learned to make lattes and paninis working at Wanda’s, traveled to East Asia with ISP, studied abroad at Oxford for part of my junior year and participated in an internship at a radio station. In my senior year, I was an RA in the “new” cottages housing development on campus. I was also awarded the 2004-2005 Behavioral Science Student of the Year Award. I graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Sciences and a minor in speech.
What did you think about your professors?
I chose to pursue a career dedicated to mental health and wellness because I was inspired by professors who shared stories of their work in the fields of social work and mental health. The late Dr. Pierce, who was incredibly kind and approachable, the incomparable Dr. Carol Minton-Ryan, Dr. Handojo, Dr. Stokes and other excellent professors helped stoke my love of the behavioral and social sciences.
Life after CBU
What have you done since graduating?
After graduating from CBU, I completed my Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from California State University – Bakersfield and started my career as a marriage and family therapist. For the last 13 years I have specialized in working with children, adolescents and families. One of the great joys of my career is getting to teach courses to future therapists and counselors, and to provide supervision to a talented group of mental health clinicians. I am also proud to be an online adjunct professor for CBU’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Additionally, I train school staff on ways to support emotional regulation in students and themselves during stressful work days.
How are you making a difference in the world? How are you living your purpose?
I am living my purpose by advocating daily for children, adolescents and families who are navigating adversity. Through direct clinical interventions and in training other therapists and soon-to-be therapists, I employ recovery-oriented, resiliency-focused treatment models to help young people manage the stress of daily life.
I try my best to model the daily servanthood of Christ Jesus. Every day I pray for opportunities to serve the people around me. I have a sticky note in my office that reminds me, “Any day I can be helpful to others is a good day!” I am working on measuring success not through daily accomplishments or perfectionism but in the quality of my relationships and whether I can stand in the gap for the children, families and the staff members I serve.
What are your future goals and plans?
I am returning to CBU this fall as a student in the PhD in Leadership Studies program. I am excited to study how servant-leadership can transform our communities and create ways to share the gospel for many to be saved by our true servant-leader and king, Jesus Christ.
I hope one day to advance into higher leadership and scholarship. I greatly enjoy andragogy, and I hope to pivot into a full-time professor role someday. In addition, I want to gain additional public speaking, radio broadcasting and writing opportunities. And perhaps, one day, return to singing and acting.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
I have been happily married to Dave Cummings (also a CBU alum) since 2008. We have three gorgeous daughters who light up our lives and bring us so much joy. Everything I do comes back to them. We are also proud members of Resurrection Church, Bakersfield. I have recently had opportunities to teach Bible studies and share mental health wellness strategies with church staff members and volunteers. I love getting opportunities to sing and speak publicly, especially in ministry capacities. And I love coffee, dark chocolate and butterflies!