Bentley Cornett

Bentley is originally from the small town of Galax, Virginia, where she resided up until the age of 18. During her high school years, she had the opportunity to travel to San Salvador, El Salvador, and San Juan, Puerto Rico to assist with medical clinics and youth summer camps. These experiences sparked her continuing passion to advocate for children’s and migrant’s rights.

Bentley decided to further her education in International Relations and Spanish at Virginia Tech. Throughout her time as an undergrad, she volunteered with the Coalition for Refugee Resettlement club on campus. The CRR visited public schools and helped students who had been forced to flee their home countries to reach their full potential within their new school systems and communities. Finding purpose in working with these remarkable students, Bentley moved upon graduation to rural Honduras, joining a non-profit, Bilingual Education for Central America. She taught Third Grade at a children’s home in Macuelizo, Santa Barbara, and had the unique, invaluable experience of living on the same campus as her students.

The experiences Bentley had during her year teaching in Honduras led her to become a strong advocate for U.S. immigration reform. To stand in solidarity with her Honduran counterparts and students, Bentley decided to once again further her education and obtain her Master’s degree in Migration Studies at the University of San Francisco and Universidad Iberoamericana. Throughout her time studying, Bentley worked at various migrant shelters in Mexico City, including with the National Human Rights Award Winners, Las Patronas. These rewarding experiences granted Bentley the opportunity of working with children of all ages on building social-emotional skills and learning English. She was committed from that time on to utilize her academic qualifications and real-world experiences by dedicating her career path to advocacy migrant families.

From 2020-2021, Bentley served as the Instructional Coordinator at Surry Community College for English Language Learners. During her time working as the program coordinator, Bentley secured a 3-year Federal Grant to ensure that non-native residents in Surry and Yadkin counties have access to Family Literacy, English, Citizenship, and High School Equivalency courses. Working with migrant parents and children in the Family Literacy course at Surry led Bentley to again recognize her passion and purpose. She is thrilled for the opportunity to join UNCG’s Center of New North Carolinians to ensure migrant families gain the resources and guidance needed to help their children reach their full potential.