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Counseling student honored for academic excellence, service

Warner Student Honored for Academic Excellence, Service

The world has always fascinated Benjamin Eskind. His thirst for knowledge and yearning to help others live well in a complex world are what led him to pursue his initial career in sustainable agriculture and now his future second career in counseling.
Eskind, a full-time master’s student in community mental health counseling at the Warner School of Education, was honored for his academic achievement and commitment to education and service in April when he was a recipient of this year’s Outstanding Adult Student Award presented by the Rochester Area Colleges Continuing Education (RACCE). He was among 35 honored on Wednesday, April 12 at the 26th Annual RACCE Awards Banquet.
The award recognizes the extraordinary achievements of adult students from area colleges who have excelled academically while successfully juggling responsibilities outside the classroom, such as work, family, and service to the community. Eskind was one of two distinguished University of Rochester students honored.
During the past two years, Eskind and his wife and Warner alumna Emma Brinkman ’16W (MS) have worked hard to start and run a business. In 2013, they designed and created an organic vegetable farm from scratch on undeveloped land. Nestled in Farmington, N.Y., Pachamama Farm has provided food for a 50-member Community Supported Agriculture program, and currently distributes products to several Rochester-area restaurants.

“My interest in farming grew from a long-standing desire to give back to the community,” Eskind explains. “Although one might not immediately see the connection between farming and mental health counseling, for me they intersect in my quest to find meaningful relationships in my work.”
A key element to Pachamama Farm’s success is its well-organized volunteer program for over 40 customers and community members. Eskind acknowledges one young woman, who has volunteered at the farm every week for two years, for helping to ignite his idea of pursuing a master’s degree in counseling. Being outdoors and getting her hands dirty, he says, was an antidote to the strains of her modern lifestyle.
A member of the counseling honor society Chi Sigma Iota, Eskind is completing his internship at St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center, where he provides integrated care to underinsured individuals and families, and will graduate at the end of this year. He’s also made community involvement a priority during his graduate study, volunteering at the Monroe County Correctional Facility as a group therapy co-facilitator for inmates.
“Ben clearly exemplifies all elements of the Rochester Area Colleges Outstanding Award,” says Dan Linnenberg, an assistant professor in counseling and human development who nominated Eskind for this honor and applauds his impressive 4.0 GPA. “I anticipate that he will continue to be prolific in his studies and his farming career as he proceeds in the next phase of his professional life as a mental health counselor.”
The key for Eskind in facing all the challenges of adulthood while going back to school has been to keep learning and growing.
“My studies at Warner have facilitated this growth in a challenging, yet supportive, way,” adds Eskind who holds a bachelor’s in political studies from Bard College. “All the knowledge and relational skills that require diligent work will carry me toward my interest in mental health counseling and beyond.”