A few years ago, Cameron Bennett got separated from his Boy Scout troop all night on a mountain in New Mexico.
When he woke up the next morning, he had the choice of facing a bear or jumping off a cliff.
“By the time I kind of tried to get things settled in my head, I didn’t really have time to think,” said Bennett, a sophomore criminal justice major, “because I stepped back a little bit too far and I fell.”
Bennett passed out a few seconds into falling, and when he hit the ground his heart stopped. He was pronounced dead when found but was later resuscitated.
“It was quite the experience but it feels as though I’ve had a second chance at life,” Bennett said. “There’s a reason that I’m still here because if there wasn’t I would have died at that point in time.”
Bennett said he saw the experience as a second chance to make sure he sets everything right and help others out as much as possible.
Now, 19, after being the first person to provide help to a couple trapped in a car wreck in Sundance Square on Feb. 24, he’s known as a modern-day superhero. That’s what a report from WFAA/Channel 8 called him.
“Honestly, I’m flattered that people call me that,” Bennett said. “It makes me a little nervous and it kind of flusters me a little bit because I’m not used to being called that. It’s really amazing to hear but at the same time I’m really grateful to be able to called that and be known for something good.”
Bennett’s bravery doesn’t surprise his friends.
“When something seems out of the ordinary he literally springs into action like a superhero,” said Eugene Frier, assistant dean of students. “I think that’s really cool and then of course there’s the Spiderman suit.”
Bennett has been known to wear a Spiderman costume around campus. As a massive fan since his brothers introduced him to the Marvel character, he finds the costume motivates him physically and morally and gives him a chance to geek out about one of his major influences.
“It (Marvel comics) catch my eye with some of the stuff that happens, the physics behind them, the stories’ development, and the motivation piece characters have,” Bennett said. “It shows that yes, they’re put in these positions as heroes, but at the same time they’re people like you and me and they mess up. It show’s it’s OK that we mess up, because there’s a greater good that can come from it. There’s still a purpose you have to learn from.”
Superheroes aren’t Bennett’s only role models. He considers everyone who has been a part of his life to be a role model in their own way.
However, his biggest role model is big brother Corey, who is 27.
“My oldest brother Corey was basically everything that I wanted to be, everything I strive to be, and to this day still is,” Bennett said. “He’s given me the confidence and the moral ethic background to be able to help me strive through life. He also set the standard for graduating high school and graduating college with a double major in computer science and religion. He’s done so much and it’s inspired me to do pretty much everything that I do.”
Bennett has managed to do a lot at Wesleyan; he is here to stay close to his family, which is based in Crowley. He’s a Student Life ambassador, the Natural and Social Sciences representative on the Student Government Association, and a member of the Black Student Association. He’s also on Ram Squad and a wide receiver on the football team.
“His good heart leads him to be (a good leader), but he’s also a very hard worker,” Frier said. “He’s not going to ask people to do stuff that he’s not going to do. He’s very willing to just jump in and do whatever regardless of his role and what’s going on, whether he’s a president, a member, or just a student.”
Bennett’s positive influence on campus won him the Guardian of the Golden Sheers Award in spring 2016. Bennett said he was the only person surprised by winning the award.
“A lot of people were clapping and were really happy about the fact that I had gotten it,” Bennett said. “I was still confused (since the award is typically given to seniors).”
Bennett’s still inspiring new students like his close friend Marissa Quintanilla, a freshman criminal justice major.
“I think he’s very important to Wesleyan, because he’s great friend,” Quintanilla said. “He’s someone that I feel like everyone’s comfortable enough to go talk to, and I think everyone needs someone like that. For myself, I look up to him. He’s smart, nice, and a very great guy.”
Another thing Frier and Quintanilla like about Bennett is his commitment to his moral code.
“I feel like Cam goes with what’s right regardless of whether other people agree,” Quintanilla said. “He does what’s right. I think that’s a very, very great quality to have as a leader, because you’re going to have to make choices that not everyone is going to agree on, but you have to be strong enough to do it.”
Bennett says his older brother Channing, 24, is the one who taught him to stick to what he believes is right, even if everyone else is against it.
“He’s helped me with my morals as well as to be straight on with my destination and to stick to my guns no matter what,” Bennett said. “Sometimes the world will push you and tell you whatever you’re doing is wrong. He’s shown me that even when the world is pushing you and telling you to move out of this way you stay and there you put your feet in the ground. If you believe it’s right you fight for it with everything that you got.”
For a while Bennett’s two older brothers were his father figure while his father was away. Now Bennett said he’s been watching his father work hard to build back their relationship. He believes in second chances.
“I only have one father on this earth so no matter how many times he messes up, he’s always going to have a chance in my heart to be my dad,” Bennett said. “I love him and I’m going to continue to do this even if he does act crazy sometimes. He’s working really hard to get back into my life so I can appreciate that.”
Frier said Bennett brings positive thoughts to Wesleyan.
“I think what he brings here is an increase in positive energy and activity,” Frier said. “I think he feeds it into a very positive trend happening here with the energy and excitement but it also has a bit more of a long-term future in mind.”
Frier, who has known Bennett since orientation, truly believes Bennett will make a difference no matter where he ends up in the future.
“I think we all have the desire to be a hero in our heart,” said Frier, “but I think in a lot of ways Cameron is.”