Above: Students on campus | Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta

For Vince Bennett, UC Santa Cruz’s Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) was a source of critical writing help, skills he still uses today. For Christina Cavazos Bennett, EOP was where she learned to advocate for herself and confidently share her experience—showing her that her determination and charisma were powerful tools she could use to make things happen.

When they met, Vince (Stevenson ’89, economics and psychology) and Christina (Merrill ’91, economics) were first-generation college students working hard toward careers. They shared a passion for making a positive difference.

Now Christina is assistant treasurer of the city of St. Louis, and Vince is CEO of a national corporation that builds affordable housing.

The Bennetts have built a marriage in which they complement each other’s strengths and have two children who are following their successful examples.

“We’re co-CEOs of our family,” Vince says with a laugh. “Christina focuses on finance and operations, and I’m the spirit leader.”

On the 30th anniversary of Christina’s graduation, they established a planned gift for the program that was so important on their paths to success.

With her finance expertise, Christina chose a form of planned gift that would be efficient for the Bennetts and would yield a significant gift to UCSC: They made EOP a beneficiary of their life insurance.

The Bennetts’ gift will establish a permanent endowment that will pay out annually, supporting the program’s advisers and tutors, and providing help for students facing a variety of challenges, says EOP Interim Director Aaron Jones.

“A little bit goes a long way here,” Jones says. “EOP is making a wide dent in inequity in the world.”

The Bennetts are excited that their gift will eventually help students following in their footsteps.

“I was a student who was dependent on someone else’s giving,” Christina says. “If we can make a path for someone who is a first-generation student, then we’ve come full circle.”

If you would like to discuss how you can include the university in your estate plans, please contact the Office of Planned Giving at gift.planning@ucsc.edu or (831) 332-3934.


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