Westminster student attends college thanks to lottery winnings

Jack Benton, a sophomore at Westminster College, works on his artwork on the fourth floor of Converse Hall for a photo as part of the college’s visual rebranding project. Benton said he feels lucky to have the opportunities college has given him, since he never expected he would be able to attain higher education. Photo by Michael Kunde.

Jack Benton, a sophomore at Westminster College, works on his artwork on the fourth floor of Converse Hall for a photo as part of the college’s visual rebranding project. Benton said he feels lucky to have the opportunities college has given him, since he never expected he would be able to attain higher education. Photo by Michael Kunde.

Jack “JB” Benton never expected to go to college, much less to end up in Utah, which is over 1,300 miles away from his hometown in Michigan.

Now a sophomore at Westminster College, Benton said his plans changed when his grandmother won the lottery and offered to help him pay for college—an option he never expected to have.

“I think he definitely loves college,” said Tucker Addison, a business management major and Benton's roommate. “He’s a great student and a great friend. He’s a goony guy but is dedicated to his work and loves what he does.”

The Forum sat down with Benton to learn more about the unconventional way he chose Westminster and what his experience has been like since.

Q: How did you end up coming to Westminster?

Jack Benton, a sophomore at Westminster College, works on his artwork on the fourth floor of Converse Hall for a photo as part of the college’s visual rebranding project. Benton said he never expected to attend college, but his plans changed when his grandmother won the lottery and offered to help him pay for  his education. Photo by Michael Kunde.

Jack Benton, a sophomore at Westminster College, works on his artwork on the fourth floor of Converse Hall for a photo as part of the college’s visual rebranding project. Benton said he never expected to attend college, but his plans changed when his grandmother won the lottery and offered to help him pay for  his education. Photo by Michael Kunde.

A: My sophomore year of high school I was not even planning on college. It just wasn’t in the picture. I actually had a job where I was making pretty good money and so I just figured I’d do that. My grandma used to send me with $200 in cash and go to the gas station and get lottery tickets, and every time she bought lottery tickets she doubled her money or more, so she always had a knack for it. So I guess it was only time (when I was a sophomore) that she won a large sum of money. She told my sister and I, because my sister was a senior in high school planning on going to community college. My grandma just said, ‘Your education is something I want to invest in.' She offered to help us with college. Not entirely—she still wanted to teach us a lesson, so we contribute a little.

So once I had the option to go to school, I had a map of the United States on the TV and my buddies were over. They blindfolded me, spun me around, and I landed on Utah. I was like, ‘Sweet. Utah!’ I already snowboarded and I knew there was a skate community here, so I applied to every school except for Snow College and BYU. After it all played out, Westminster was the college I liked the best and they also gave me a huge amount of scholarship money.

Q: What have the impacts of that change in your life plan been like?

A: I guess I’ve just been grateful and I just don’t want to screw this up. I’m just grateful and trying to have as many experiences in Utah while I’m lucky enough to live here.

Q: What are you studying at Westminster?

A: I’m double majoring in communication and photography. I knew I loved photography before college. And then actually while working in [Westminster's Marketing and Communications] office, I knew I wanted to do marketing and communication stuff, which led me to the communication degree.

Q: Would you say college is worth the experience?

A: Honestly, it’s the right experience for me. But I would say college is so unique to each individual; it’s not for everyone. There’s ways besides school to have experiences I’ve had, or at least similar ones. So for me, yeah, this is the right move.