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Morning Sun
  • Patrick's People - Community visibility

  • Christel Benson came to Pittsburg after her husband, Blake Benson, accepted a position as president of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce. But it didn’t take long for her to find that the community offered great opportunities for her as well.

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  • Christel Benson came to Pittsburg after her husband, Blake Benson, accepted a position as president of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce. But it didn’t take long for her to find that the community offered great opportunities for her as well.
    Benson is now an assistant professor in the graphics and imaging technologies department, Kansas Technology Center, Pittsburg State University.
    She first earned a bachelor of arts in graphic design from Arkansas State University at Jonesboro and did some ad work in the area of higher education and health  care marketing, both for advertising agencies and freelance.
    “It was while we were in Fort Smith, Ark., that I started adjunct teaching at the University of Arkansas,” Benson said. “I had never experienced teaching before, and it had not been in my plan.”
    Her priorities shifted after her first son, Braden, was born and she took a year off teaching.
    “But I was getting to  like teaching better than my day job, and was going to teach full-time at UA Fort Smith when Blake got the job in Pittsburg,” Benson said.
    The family moved to  Pittsburg in the  summer of 2006, and Benson quickly found her niche.
    “People were really interested in my interests and showed me the master’s program at Pitt State,” she said. “Coming back as a student was a little challenging, but a lot of students in my classes were also non-traditional.”
    She graduated from PSU in December of 2007 with a master of science in technical teacher education.
    “I taught the last semester I was a student,” Benson said. “As a graduate assistant I did graphics in the Office of Graduate and Continuing Studies, and won an ADDY Award for an ad campaign I did for the office. The theme was ‘Our Graduates Know Their Business’ and it focused on graduates who were business owners. We ran it in area business journals and business journals in the Kansas City area.”
    She was also working on a more personal project, and was expecting her second child, son Mason, when she graduated.
    Benson’s first semester of full-time teaching was in the fall of 2009.
    “Teaching really makes me happy,” she said.
    A winner of numerous ADDY Awards, she encourages students to submit entries in the competition hosted by the American Advertising Federation - Joplin. Benson explained that this a nationwide competition honoring creativity in all forms of advertising.
    “I tell students how great it looks on their resume that they won an ADDY,” she said. “The ADDY Awards ceremony is like the Grammys. All the judges are from outside our district, and nobody knows who the winners are until their names are flashed on the screen. It’s so beneficial for students to be in a room with all those pros and then they watch their own name come up on the screen and they walk up and get their award.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Even those who don’t win an award will still get something from attending the event.
    “I tell them they should just come and see what’s being done in a field that they will, in some way, shape or form, be involved in,” Benson said.
    She also encourages students to keep an image bank and an idea bank to draw inspiration from.
    “Never throw anything away,” Benson said. “Go to a paint store and get color chips so you can see what color combinations work well together.”
    In addition to her teaching, she continues to do consulting work.
    “I have a hard time saying no, so I do a lot of freelance graphics,” Benson said. “I try to do projects over breaks.”
    She developed the concept for  the Women of Distinction calendar and took it to the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce. The calendar now comes out every year.
    “Last Christmas I did a branding for Monica Kellogg and helped Pittsburg Beautiful with its new campaign,” Benson said.  “I worked with Louis Casaletto  on the Miners Memorial project and did the logo for the Miners Hall Museum in Franklin. I’ve helped Joanna Rhodes with posters, signs and brochures for the TRYathlon.”
    She has also done consulting for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Crawford County, Pittsburg Community Theatre, Colonial Fox Theatre and the Mount Carmel Foundation.
    Benson has also become one of Pittsburg’s most enthusiastic boosters.
    “I tell people who have just moved here that there are so many activities you could not possibly do them all, especially for children,” she said.
    “There are so many good opportunities for our boys. I can’t say enough for the Pittsburg Parks and Recreation Department, and we go to the Pittsburg Public Library a lot. I love our  house, I love our neighborhood and I love the schools. Pittsburg has been good, good, good for our family.”
     
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