September 5, 2022

Kayla Benton ’26 is not afraid to speak up for those who can’t do it for themselves. Her servant heart and ambitious personality have driven her to pursue a career in veterinary medicine where she plans to be a caring advocate for animals and their owners.  

A Houston native, Benton always dreamed of attending Texas A&M University. Her family, however, had ties to Baton Rouge and the Tigers, leading her to Louisiana State University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science. Despite this, Aggieland remained an aspiration for her.  “Even as a Tiger, I loved Texas A&M and couldn’t wait to become an Aggie,” Benton remarked. 

This fall, with the help of a Foundation Excellence Award (FEA) created by the late Sue Nguyen, Benton will fulfill her dream as she begins classes in the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. As she trades purple for maroon, we asked her about what the next four years and life as an Aggie will look like for her. 

Kayla, We Want to Know...

What motivates your veterinarian pursuits?

I’ve always had a passion for animals, but after working in a clinic, I learned that veterinarians have duties beyond just caring for them. The immense impact you also have on concerned pet owners is not a role to be taken lightly. A successful veterinarian cares for relationships with people just as much as animals, and more importantly, advocates for the well-being of the owners and pets alike. 

What does being an advocate mean to you?

Being bold enough to speak out even if nobody else is. You have to be humble enough to help those around you without expectation for praise or payment in return. Many think that only people in positions of power can carry out this kind of advocacy, but it really starts in everyday life. Everyone needs help, including animals. For me, advocating for others means being a selfless servant and a good steward of the voice and power I have to help others.  

What’s something you’re passionate about?

During my undergraduate career, I served as the LSU chapter president of Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS). When I started in that role, there were only six active members. I knew that we had the potential to grow and reach many others through the incredible opportunities for networking, professional growth and personal development that MANRRS offered, so I set out to reach more people.  

We grew to 30 members during the height of the pandemic, which was a hard time for everyone. This proved that we had momentum to do something special as a chapter. We came together and advocated for minorities in agriculture at LSU, but also in American agriculture.  

Now, as a Foundation Excellence Award scholar, I have a similar opportunity at Texas A&M to advocate for minorities with the support I’m fortunate enough to receive. It motivates me to know that Ms. Nguyen believed enough in students like me to invest in my future as a veterinarian by planning this scholarship in her estate. Her support helps me believe in myself, which also motivates me to perpetuate the cycle of support by helping others have the confidence to achieve their goals too. 

What advice would you have given yourself four years ago?

Through all the hardships I’ve faced in my life, one thing has been constant: my faith. I would tell my younger self to trust the process and lean into my faith. I’ve learned that God has a plan for every up and down, and hardships shape you into a person who can take on bigger battles down the road. I once questioned if I had the ability to accomplish my dreams, but now I know to have faith and trust the plan created for me. 

Want to help future Aggie advocates like Kayla in their pursuit to help others? Explore how you can establish a Foundation Excellence Award for deserving students in your estate plans by contacting Kelly Corcoran ’95 below.