She’s Bent!


Agathe Fredette

Shavonna Bent

She is the leader of the student body at Johnson State College, but there’s more to someone than what they write on their resume. Shavonna Bent, a Vermont native and nature lover, is a junior biology major who someday wants to be a Marine Biologist. She hopes to save the whales while simultaneously protesting for human rights.



What is your favorite childhood memory?
I would say the memory that sticks out and is the most distinct and my favorite is the first time I that I got my horse to canter, which is when they run really fast. It was a mixture of fear and exhilaration and after I was so happy because I hadn’t fallen off. I didn’t mean to make it happen, though. We had fallen behind my mom on the trail that we were riding, and I wanted to make him trot or jog, and he just took off. It was so fun.



When did you get your horse?
That horse was my mom’s, and she got him when she was nine years old. So when I was born, we still had him, and I’ve had horses all my life. I could ride before I could walk, and by that I mean I would sit on the horse with my mom before I was walking.



How many horses do you have?
I have three at home. That horse, Wildfire, died when I was 10, but I have a horse now named TJ and mom’s other really old horse is Sulton and another little one named Sophie. I love them all.



Who has been a big influence in your life?
Obviously, my parents have been a big influence on me. They taught me how to work hard and to respect people and to be a good person. Outside of them, I had some really great mentors through my youth group in high school and some really great high school teachers who sort of shaped who I was early on and encouraged me to really push myself and think outside the bounds and to work hard in school.



How did you become so interested in science and what you’re studying?
In my senior year of high school, I really didn’t think I was going to study science, so I didn’t take AP bio or AP calc – which I really regret now – but I was going to do environmental studies so I wouldn’t have to focus so much on the sciences. I was going to focus on policy and advocacy, which is the track I started with here at Johnson. I took intro to cells and genetics with Liz Dolci and was working the lab for her class, and I really liked that. Then I took earth science and the second intro bio with Dr. Genter, and Les Kanat said to me, “You’re really good at this. Have you considered changing to the more science-based track?” Up to that point, I had enjoyed my science classes more than my political science classes, so I switched, and I am very happy that I did.



Where is your favorite place that you’ve traveled to?
Definitely Doha, Qatar. I was only there for the five days, and I was sick with a really bad sore throat, but I have never felt more at home away from home. The people were amazing, the food was to die for, and I’m excited to go back.



What do you wish you could change about JSC?
I wish that there were more people available for students. I wish we had the money to pay more people to do more of the amazing work that already happens here. I think that would continue to improve the student experience.



Any areas in particular?
Definitely faculty for class offerings, and so that faculty members could do more exciting things that they like to do. Also from the staff perspective, I know everyone here does way more than their job’s worth, so it would be great to have more help. I hope that that happens with the unification and the Statehouse funding that might be coming.



What is your most treasured possession?
I have had a teddy bear that I made when I was little. My Dad taught me how to sew, and our first project was making this little bear. It’s two centimeters thick because I used to sleep with it every single night. Out of all of my possessions that one means the most to me. Everything else I could probably replace, but that has years of memories in it. I used to leave sleepovers if I didn’t have it with me.



Do you have the teddy bear in your dorm?
No, it’s at home because I didn’t want to lose it. I can sleep without it now.



Did you have any imaginary friends growing up?
I didn’t have any specific friends that stick out, but I used to run around outside after snowstorms. You know the wet, heavy snow? I’d pretend I was a knight or a hero, or a snow witch, and I would build these forts in our snow banks and hide dragons there. I didn’t want to fight the dragons, but I pretended I’d tamed them and took care of them like little pets.



What was your favorite movie growing up?
I loved the movie, “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” when I was growing up. I used to watch it all the time, and I just loved that there was a movie about horses because I was obsessed with horses. It made me want to visit the Midwest and see wild mustangs, which is still a dream that I have yet to fulfill.



What wouldn’t you do for a million dollars?
I wouldn’t kill, I wouldn’t cheat on anyone (unless they gave me permission for our own good), and I don’t think I could eat anything super gross — unless I was allowed to throw up after because I have a really weak stomach. I mean, I’d try, but I don’t think it’d work and then I’d be out a million dollars with an unpleasant taste in my mouth.



Would you rather have to always say what’s on your mind or never speak again?
That depends on whether or not I would be able to write down my thoughts and share them with those around me, or if I would never be able to communicate again. Ultimately though I think I’d rather just speak my mind and then work on becoming a more empathetic person, so I didn’t blurt out anything too offensive.



If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be?
I think I would trade places with an astronaut on the space station. When I was in Mrs. Clarke’s second-grade class, all I wanted to be was an astronaut. I read all the books I could find in the classroom and the library about space and being an astronaut. While I still think it would be really cool, I’m more invested in things here on Earth, and my dreams have evolved to other science-based careers. But I still think it would be wild to see Earth from space, and I would love to spend a day in the space station.



Do you have a pet peeve?
I hate when people chew super loudly, which is a pet peeve I inherited from my dad. I also really don’t like when people are stressed out or upset about things in life and constantly take it out on those around them that are trying to help or just happen to be around. I absolutely understand that it happens sometimes, and I think this is a pet peeve of mine because I do it more often than I’d like, but it really just ends up making other people feel bad, and you feel worse. But it’s definitely easier said than done, to just reach out and ask for help because bottling things up is not the answer either.



If you could have dinner with five historical figures who would they be and why?
I would love to eat dinner with Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, Eleanor Roosevelt and Emma Goldman. I would love to hear more from each of these ladies about their lives and how they went about changing the world. Rosa Parks, because she became the face and voice for the start of the Civil Rights movement. Marie Curie, as she was an incredible scientist in a time where this was very uncommon for women, and her accomplishments won her two Nobel Prizes. Rosalind Franklin was the woman who discovered the structure of DNA, but Watson and Crick received most of the credit and the Nobel Prizes. Eleanor Roosevelt, because she is just a really cool lady, and I would love to hear more about her life and activism that sort of goes unnoticed. Finally, I did this project in high school on Emma Goldman, who was also known as Red Emma. She emigrated here from Russia in the early 20th century and was a big proponent of anarchism but in a unique way where she wanted to decentralize power and decisions to local governments so every town was able to make their own decisions. While I don’t think it’s a very practical idea, she was wicked cool and participated in protesting awful working conditions at steel mills and such. If you can’t tell from my answer, I really think that historical ladies who really made a difference in the world are amazing. It’s not that there are not men I’d love to sit down for dinner with and pick their brains. It’s just that there is a lot more info on men in history than women, so I would really want to get to know more about these women.