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Annual Report 2016_web

Benson SEXTON Instructor

Benson SEXTON Instructor of Communication “ I know what it’s like to live in a one-stoplight town and go to college leaving behind a close-knit family and community.” Left: Sexton holds a sketch created in his likeness by Henderson, Ky., freshman Elisabeth Glover who is currently enrolled in Sexton’s public speaking class. 4

Benson Sexton started serving Lindsey Wilson College students right after he graduated from the college. Blue Raiders for Life: Sexton in 2007 with freshman advising colleagues – all of who are still serving LWC in new roles. (Left to right): Instructor of Communication Benson Sexton, Career Services Director Laura Burwash, Instructor of Communication Jennifer Furkin and Alumni Director Randy Burns. A 2004 LWC alumnus, Sexton was named a Freshman Advisor in the college’s Freshman Year Experience program two days after he received his LWC bachelor’s degree in communication. “I graduated from Lindsey Wilson on a Saturday and started working the following Monday,” Sexton said. “I was advising students who were only four years younger than me.” Now an instructor of communication, Sexton’s teaching methods and approach to working with LWC students are built on the insights he gained while working with the college’s firstyear students. “FYE taught me first-year students want to learn, but they may not know how to learn,” he said. “I never assume our freshmen have the basic learning fundamentals, such as taking notes and asking questions. Many are not prepared to be successful in a college classroom.” Sexton – who joined the college’s faculty full-time in 2012 – constantly seeks ways that will help him become an even more effective college teacher. “I learn from my students every day,” he said. “Our students come from unique and diverse backgrounds. One of the things we focus on in class is frame of reference, or how we respond and deliver messages based on our experiences. When we pull those unique perspectives out of students, then we begin to learn about their cultures and how communication is approached from different backgrounds.” Sexton encourages a lot of discussion in his classes, and he also seeks student feedback about his classes. “I challenge students to debate and talk in class about the hot topics facing our society,” he said. “In return, the learning environment is elevated and students begin to connect what we are discussing to textbook material.” And students appreciate what and how Sexton has taught them – he has twice been named Teacher of the Year by the LWC Student Government Association, most recently for the 2015-16 school year. “It is quite an honor to receive this award because it was from Lindsey Wilson students,” Sexton said. “It is extremely humbling.” Sexton also looks for ways to expand the classroom experience for his students. He recently collaborated with LWC colleagues Instructor of Biology Stefanie Tarter and Professor of Communication Greg Phelps to land a grant that funded an oral history project called “The Facing Project.” “‘The Facing Project’ is a storytelling project that connects students through the stories of the residents of Southcentral Kentucky,” he said. “Students are paired with citizens to discuss past or present issues that have challenged or changed the direction of their lives. Projects may cover many topics including poverty, homelessness, hunger and sex trafficking.” LWC students will interview, write and publish the stories of people who have met triumph or tragedy in an effort to educate the broader community. The stories will culminate when students bring the stories to life by taking on the voice of their subject and presenting it as a monologue on stage. “The ultimate goal is to provide awareness about social disruption in our community,” Sexton said. “Our hope is through ‘The Facing Project’ we will encourage social change. This initiative is a perfect match for LWC. Our goals are similar – to make a difference and change lives.” Sexton said that is why he is passionate about teaching at LWC. “I attribute much of who I am today to Lindsey Wilson College,” said Sexton, who is a native of nearby Albany, Ky. “I was afforded experiences I would have never thought possible at a small college in Kentucky. I want to give back to the college that gave so much to me and changed my life. ” As an LWC alumnus and a native of the region, Sexton has an unique understanding of LWC students. “I know what’s like to live in a one-stoplight town and go to college leaving behind a close-knit family and community,” he said. “We need to love and understand these young people because many are first-generation college students. They are looking to us for guidance as they meet the uncertainty of college for the first time.” 5

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