Benson's love of learning extends beyond Jordan brush

Doug Boock
Roni Benson, who once tutored basketball great Michael Jordan in college, is passionate about learning. She's one of four people participating every other week in "Panel Response," a feature in the printed edition of the Galva News.

It’s true that Roni Benson once tutored basketball great Michael Jordan in college. But she’s not one to claim greater closeness to fame than she should.

“It isn’t like we were on a first name basis or anything like that,” said Benson, who tutored Jordan and future pro football player Kelvin Bryant while attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C. “If we passed on campus I doubt if either one would recognize me”

Still, it was fun while it lasted.

“I did always enjoy pretending I knew them when we ran into each other in the Chapel Hill clubs!” she said.

Benson, who pronounces her name as “Ronny,” is now far removed from her 1981 experiences with Jordan. She resides in Galva with her husband Dave, a heating and plumbing professional.

Her two children, Emily Ericson, a recent graduate of Northern Illinois University, and Andrew Ericson, 17, who attends the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, are strong academically. That follows Roni’s high priority of learning.

“I am most passionate about knowledge,” the Delaware native said. “I have enjoyed learning so much and now am blessed to have the opportunity to give back to others as an educator and mentor.”

A 1981 graduate of DelCastle Vocational Technical High School in Wilmington, Del., where she earned a degree in Licensed Practical Nursing, Benson also holds an Associate Degree in Nursing from Seminole Community College (Orlando, Fla.) and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Healthcare Management from Bellevue University (Omaha, Neb.) She’s tentatively slated to earn a Master of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership on June 6 - her 46th birthday - from  Bellevue University.

Currently, she’s Chief Quality, Ethics and Compliance Officer at Galesburg Cottage Hospital, a position she’s held for about five years. Before that, she was a nurse manager at the same hospital.

Juggling full-time college studies with a full-time job and family responsibilities doesn’t leave a lot of time for leisure activities. But Benson knows how to enjoy them when they come.

“For the past three years, I have been a full-time student, so my hobbies have included working, studying and sleeping,” explained the former Orlando, Fla. helicopter paramedic. “Aside from that, I enjoy riding bicycles with my husband. We love to camp and travel. When we can accomplish all three in the same trip, it is golden!”

Her pet peeves? Mean people, dishonesty, dogs in sweaters or boots and people who drive just below the speed limit on Route 34.

For more on this story, see the March 12 Galva News.