A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

Delashay Carmona Benson, beloved SRJC leader, remembered as a “change agent”

Delashay Carmona Benson exuded immense passion and an unwavering drive to become a prominent figure at Santa Rosa Junior College. “SRJC should remember her most importantly as a change agent,” said Brijit Alemán, an SRJC bilingual therapist and mental health technician. (Bryan Fructuoso, Leilany Sosa)

Santa Rosa Junior College will host a celebration of life Dec. 14 for Delashay Carmona Benson, a mother, activist and SRJC student leader who was instrumental in the creation of the ethnic studies department and a Black student success center. Carmona Benson died Nov. 1 from a heart attack at age 54. 

The former SRJC student body president, student trustee, and co-president of the Black Student Union advocated for social change and racial justice, pushed for the creation of the Sawubona Black Student Success Center, and called on Sonoma County and SRJC officials to meet the demands of students on campus during the heights of the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020. 

Carmona Benson, an Afro-Latina mother of seven and a re-entry student who started college in her 50s and in a wheelchair, was full of passion and drive to become a rising leader at SRJC. 

Zack Miranda, director of Student Life and Engagement, saw Carmona Benson as someone who made things happen, helped with the creation of clubs and worked to raise the quality of student life across SRJC’s campuses. 

Santa Rosa Junior College will be hosting a celebration of life in honor of Delashay Carmona Benson. It will be a time to gather, remember, and pay tribute to Carmona Benson’s remarkable journey in life. (Courtesy The Benson family)

“She really took us into our first full school year, when we were remote, and kept that level of student life up,” Miranda said. “I mean, she was joining every possible meeting that she could over Zoom during that time, making sure that the students’ voice wasn’t lost or forgotten in this whole shuffle of everything going online.” 

While serving as co-president of Black Student Union, a space that welcomes, celebrates, and supports scholars of African descent, Carmona Benson read aloud a list of demands, created by BSU, at a Black Lives Matter demonstration at SRJC in June of 2020. 

“Out of that demonstration, came a call for more support services. She helped secure some funding that ultimately allowed SRJC to open up the Sawubona Black Student Success Center. She helped us kind of make it what it is today,” Miranda said.

The first item on the BSU list of demands called for the creation of a Black/ethnic studies department at SRJC. The college met this demand in the fall of 2022 when SRJC established an ethnic studies department with new full-time faculty and introductory courses in Native American, Asian American, Chicanx & Latinx, and African American studies.

“Delashay’s BSU demands is a reason I have my position on campus as a mental health therapist serving the Latinx student population,” said Brijida Alemán, an SRJC bilingual therapist and mental health technician. “‘Human Up’ was a quote to always remember her by. She bolstered silenced voices on campus and demanded all people be treated as humans and not by the color of their skin. She was available and held peer meetings at all times of the day of the week to support students. Delashay was a true leader and teacher of life.”

The celebration of life to honor Carmona Benson will be from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 14 in the Bertolini Student Activities Center. In addition, the family of Carmona Benson has created a GoFundMe page to help with emergency expenses.

“She had a heart of gold; she loved hard and loved unconditionally. She was authentically and unapologetically herself, and I embraced that about her,” Alemán said.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Bryan Fructuoso
Bryan Fructuoso, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Bryan Fructuoso-Zurita (He/Him/Él) is in his third semester at The Oak Leaf. He enjoys meeting new people and listening to their stories because everyone has one to tell. His passion lies in covering individuals and amplifying their stories, particularly on underrepresented groups on campus and Latinx stories. To pursue his passion further, he is working towards obtaining an associate of science degree in both digital journalism and digital filmmaking. Bryan's ultimate dream is to create your favorite television series or film one day.

Comments (0)

All Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *