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Facing Arizona: In a small town, more reasons to stay than to leave

(KTAR News Photo/Sure Shot Photography)

Editor’s note: Facing Arizona is a series that will appear on KTAR.com and social media  — follow KTAR News on Instagram and Facebook for updates — highlighting unique and everyday people across our state and give you a glimpse into their lives.

My name is Shawnie Davis, and I am 21 years old. I am from Whetstone, Arizona, which is about 15 miles south of Benson.

Whetstone, a tiny town of about 2,000 people, is based around farming. Benson is where I ultimately grew up and went to school. Benson is a small rural community of approximately 5,000 residents. There isn’t much in the way of job opportunities within the town itself.

When I graduated from high school, I attended William Penn University, in Iowa, on a softball scholarship. It was a huge culture shock for me, coming from a community as small as Benson, I didn’t enjoy it at all. I returned to Benson after my first year. Unfortunately, I had to start over because my credits did not transfer to Arizona standards.

I am happy to say that I just finished my associate’s degree and I am looking forward to pursuing my undergrad this fall. I was always in the mindset that I wanted to leave Whetstone/Benson for that big city dream, with so many opportunities after college, but that changed. I refer to it as the bubble. Everyone I know that has ventured out comes back to the bubble of the small town. I came back because I feel it is such a great community. Comparing Benson to Phoenix, Tucson, or even Flagstaff, people would say there aren’t opportunities for people in the way of education or employment, and they are correct. We don’t have the industry or educational institutions at our disposal that a larger city does.

However, on a daily basis, Benson offers the chance for me to be a part of a close-knit community and I feel that’s pretty special. I still think about leaving from time to time, but in the end, there are more reasons for me to stay. I’m not sure where I will be in the next five to ten years. I know that I will finish my degree, more than likely in education, possibly nursing, and then I will have to see what happens. — Shawnie

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