Commencement Ceremony Keynote Speaker

Commencement Speaker

Jennifer Benjamin Pinckney

Jennifer Benjamin Pinckney, the widow of slain South Carolina State Senator and Pastor, the Honorable Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney, whose life was taken along with 8 other parishioners at a Bible Study group at historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC on June 17, 2015, is the daughter of Frank and the late Cleo Benjamin of Aiken, South Carolina.  Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Jennifer was reared in Aiken, South Carolina after her parents relocated there when she was a toddler.  Jennifer is a proud product of Aiken County Public Schools where she graduated with honors from Silver Bluff High School.

Jennifer has always valued education.  Her passion for education led her to the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Information Systems.  She furthered her education at USC where she received a Master of Science degree in Library Science and a Specialist degree in Media. 

Jennifer has enjoyed a fruitful career as a Public Service Librarian at Aiken Technical College, and as a Media Specialist in the Aiken County Public Schools, and Richland County School District, where she is currently employed.

Jennifer and the late Honorable Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney were joined in wedded bliss on Saturday, October 23, 1999 at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Augusta, Georgia.  From their union, their two beautiful daughters, Eliana, age 12, and Malana, age 7, were born.  Jennifer’s pride and joy are her two girls.  She loves being a mother and actively involves her daughters in activities and pursuits that would continue to make her husband proud.  Both girls are trained dancers and pianists.  Likewise, they both are excellent students at their respective schools.  For this, she is most grateful and proud.

Since her husband’s untimely death, Jennifer has answered God's call to continue her husband's work with the establishment of a charitable foundation in his honor.  The Honorable Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney Foundation was established formally by Jennifer Pinckney; S.C. Senator Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington; and the Rev. Kylon Jerome Middleton, a former high school principal and current AME Church pastor, who was Pinckney's best friend. Jennifer also serves on the Women’s Coalition for Common Sense, a gun control reform group convened by former U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

Jennifer is standing on the promises of God and carries with her as a personal banner God’s Word to Moses in Deuteronomy 31:6, where God tells Moses to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Hence, she lives by the motto: Be joyful; Pray continually; and, Give thanks!


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