Cindy Benes has established this scholarship in honor of her beloved grandmother, Emma Benes. The purpose is to honor Emma’s legacy with students pursuing their education in Gender, Ethnicity, and Multicultural Studies, or Social Justice, with the primary intention of furthering and promoting actions that address injustices still impacting women to this day. These issues encompass a broad spectrum, including women’s rights, legal representation and advocacy, health and mental health issues, gender and economic issues.
Cindy graduated from California State University, Northridge (Cum Laude) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreational Therapy in 1979. Cindy cares deeply for animals and the environment, as well as the injustices facing so many. She had a successful 34-year career on the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), retiring in 2015 as a Lieutenant II. She continues her service as an LAPD Reserve Officer with 39 years of service as of 2019. She is a museum docent and manages a portfolio of real estate rental properties. She attributes her life accomplishments to the values and work ethic passed down from Emma Benes and her heritage.
Cindy’s father, Alexander George Benes, served in the United States Army during WWII with an Honorable Discharge. After WWII, he moved to California and graduated from Pasadena City College in 1947. He pursued a successful career in Piping Design and Engineering. Alexander was an honest, caring man with a strong work ethic. Because Alexander lost his mother, Emma Benes, at an early age, this scholarship is a way to reunite them in spirit.
Emma Benes was a Hungarian immigrant who came to our country in the early 1900’s in pursuit of her dreams and a better life. She married and had five children. She was a devoted mother who cared deeply about her children and their prosperity in this land of ours. Unfortunately, due to a tragic set of family events which were out of Emma’s control, Emma was separated from her five young children and was never able to see them again. Being fairly new to this country, speaking little English with little to no resources, she was essentially lost in the system, forgotten by all measures, and never reunited with her family. Her children and family were told she had passed away and they did not learn the true story until decades later. The heartbreak of a mother being permanently separated from her children, and young children losing their mother, is palpable even now, over 80 years later. Emma’s legacy reminds us that all our choices matter, especially to those less fortunate or less privileged, and no one should be left behind.
Emma Benes’ love, kindness, strong work ethic, courage, and perseverance in the face of adversity remains alive today in the lives of her children, grandchildren, great grand-children and beyond. Emma’s sons served our country proudly in WWII. Her daughters embodied her attributes in their lives and raised children who carried on her legacy.
This award recognizes those students who have demonstrated dedication to correcting the injustices and adversity so many women still face today. We are called to speak up against all violations of human integrity. This requires the courage to stand up for the fair, compassionate and just course of action. That is, doing the right thing, even when it’s hard, or no one is watching. This includes a show of hard work, perseverance, generosity and kindness to advance and empower women. This vision is intended to make a positive difference in the world, to heal and benefit all beings, and the planet itself. The promise of receiving this award is to carry on the loving spirit, memory and legacy of Emma Benes for generations to come.