GCU plays role in Benjamin sisters’ special bond
By Cassandra Coria
GCU News Bureau
The oldest sister sets up the phone and presses record. Each sister is in formation as the music begins, setting in motion two minutes of laughter and fun. Four joyful young women dance in their living room to another routine they created for the summer.
Preshous, Jazmine, Crystal and Diamond Benjamin are totally in step with each other, and Grand Canyon University is an important part of it.
Preshous graduated from GCU in 2019 with a degree in counseling.
Jazmine, an early childhood education major, will be a senior at the University in the fall.
The twins, Crystal and Diamond, will be juniors. Crystal is a communications major with minors in sports management and advertising. Diamond, born one minute after Crystal, is majoring in film studies.
The three remaining GCU students often get together on campus to have dinner or go to Chapel.
“We automatically have friends,” Jazmine said.
“We’re all doing this huge transition together,” said Crystal.
Parents led the way
Their foundation was built by their parents, Jamie and Pamela Benjamin. Jamie was in the military, and the family moved around before settling in Tucson, Arizona.
“It was always just us six. I think that’s what built the strong foundation of our family − because we knew we had each other,” said Crystal
After Jamie retired from the military, he and Pamela became the pastors at Greater Faith Church in Tucson.
“We saw the love of Jesus, especially in our church,” Crystal said. “Seeing God loving on our parents and seeing our parents reflect that love onto others – oh, we want a piece of that.”
Crystal, a life leader at her church, shared this analogy:
“There’s a billion stars in the sky and some of the stars are bigger than the sun, but they’re just so far away. Think about that with God’s joy. We can feel like it’s dark, but His joy is still there and it’s so big. It just seems far away to us, but it’s still there. He’s not trying to hide His joy from you or His presence or His goodness or His love because it’s always there. We just have to look at it and realize how big it is.”
Their parents’ faith has inspired the sisters’ love for God and each other.
“My faith is my anchor. Doing all the things people think is crazy, my faith is what anchors me in the midst of all of that,” said Preshous, a 2019 GCU alumna in counseling.
The oldest daughter sets the standard for her sisters. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming, “but to know God gives me grace to do all of it.”
She lives in Tucson and expects to finish her master’s program at Fuller Theological Seminary this month. She has an internship at Cathexis Tucson, which provides counseling services, and also is a life leader at her church and a Zumba instructor.
It started early
The sisters’ bond was formed at a young age. There were sports Saturdays and movie nights. Their parents would split the duties of taking Crystal to her soccer games and shepherding Diamond and Jazmine to their basketball games.
“Growing up, we had the same interests. When we got older, we all wanted to serve together,” said Diamond.
And serve each other.
Preshous can rely on Diamond to do her makeup for any occasion. Diamond is the designated makeup artist in the family.
Jazmine knows Preshous will be available to experiment on new hairstyles.
“We’re obsessed with our hair and the different styles we can do,” Preshous said.
Hearing from one another is the highlight of their day. And they just have to include a video if they’re not getting together in person.
The impact of campus community
GCU’s welcoming environment, like their parents, has had a ripple effect on all of them.
“There are plenty of opportunities to join a life team, and there are people on this campus who have that strong faith where you can share your thoughts together,” Jazmine said.
That moment came for Diamond when she went to Chapel with some friends from Tucson.
“Just looking around, seeing all these people worshipping, then going to class right after, knowing that presence is available, I was like, ‘Wow, God, this is great. This is school, but You’re here. How I feel right now is so assuring,’” she recalled.
Diamond got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity earlier this year when she worked on the set of the “Identity Crisis” movie while it was being filmed on campus. She worked closely with sisters Andrea and Alexandra Boylan, the movie’s directors, and connected on a deeper level because they, too, are children of pastors.
Diamond aspires to write a movie script reflecting God’s goodness and character. Ultimately, she hopes to “just be creative like my Creator.”
Crystal got accepted for the Canyon Activities Board for the 2022-23 school year in the Special Events division. She works as a communications specialist for Athletes in Action, running its social media.
Jazmine wants to go into education because of the heartbreak she has seen among other students growing up: “There are not enough students that go home and know that their teacher loves them. Of course, we want our students to be well equipped, but it’s just as important for a student to feel valued.”
While the sisters’ faith is central to who they are, it’s also the reason they chose GCU.
“It causes you to build relationships you never thought you could be in,” said Crystal.
It has added even more to what they have with each other … which already had them dancing with joy.