Benedictine University at Mesa graduates celebrate earning their degrees during school’s first-ever Commencement Convocation May 16 at Gillett Hall

May 18, 2015

Mesa, Arizona ~ Proud parents, faculty, staff and friends of Benedictine University at Mesa graduates helped celebrate the school’s inaugural Commencement Convocation on May 16 at Gillett Hall, the University’s main campus building.

The University’s first graduating class from the Mesa branch campus is a milestone in only the school’s second year. Twelve graduates took center stage at the University’s first commencement ceremony at the Mesa branch campus. The event marked the beginning of a growth trend that officials one day expects to meet or exceed the main campus’s in Lisle, Ill., more than 800 graduates from 2015.

Students, faculty, staff, as well as city officials, predict the number of Mesa branch campus graduates to swell as the Southwestern Arizona area becomes more familiar with the University’s values-based Catholic education and ability to provide practical experiences for its graduates – some of whom have already obtained jobs.

About 200 guests, who included public officials and community leaders, attended Saturday’s ceremony at Gillett Hall, located at 225 E. Main St. in downtown Mesa. Public officials included City of Mesa Mayor John Giles; Councilmember Chris Glover; Jaye O’Donnell, deputy director for the Office of Economic Development; and Sally Harrison, president and CEO of the Mesa Chamber of Commerce.

“This is truly an historic event for the Mesa campus and the entire University,” said Kevin Broeckling, associate vice president for Student Life. “We are defined by the success of our students, and when we see them walk across the stage after earning a values-based education which has prepared them to be the future leaders and community servants in Mesa and their hometowns, we know that the University will continue to be successful. This was the first of many graduating classes to come and we couldn’t be more proud.”

Benedictine University Executive Vice President Charlie Gregory echoed these sentiments.

“The emotions of the event could be seen in the joy (and tears) on the faces of students, parents and grandparents alike,’’ Gregory said. “I told our graduates to remember this moment because it will be a part of their story – for without memories, they have no history.”

Prior to the Commencement Convocation, the University held a special Hooding Ceremony, which is a tradition unique to Benedictine. Dating back to 1975, the Hooding Ceremony honors graduates with the presentation of the baccalaureate hood by a faculty or staff member chosen by the candidate. The purpose is to allow graduates the opportunity to recognize an individual who played an important part in their academic and personal development during their collegiate years.

Benedictine President William J. Carroll, Ph.D., provided the Commencement address, telling students to listen and engage in conversation to better comprehend what’s going on in the world, seek harmony with others and avoid complacency.

“Every day we find ourselves in new and often challenging situations,” Carroll said. “For most of us, our tendency is to jump immediately into the conversation. I encourage you to subscribe to the words of St. Benedict – listen. By listening, you let others play their hands, and you get a fuller sense of the situation.”

Carroll said such principles are reflective of the holistic education Benedictine provides, and this values-based education is what drew the current group of graduates to the school – a culmination of a joint vision between the City of Mesa and Benedictine.

“This Commencement is the culmination of a vision by former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith –

a vision Benedictine University embraced to become Arizona’s first Catholic university and bring our strong, values-based liberal arts education to the people of Southwest Arizona,” said Charlie Gregory, executive vice president of Benedictine University.

“Our new graduates have been prepared not only to enter the workplace or begin graduate study, but to also become leaders in their communities,” he added. “We are as proud of them as their parents surely are for this accomplishment, which is the start of many career and life successes.”

The May 2015 graduates are:

Cristina Acuna, B.A. in Psychology, Chandler, Ariz.

Chelsea Brumby, B.A. in Criminal Justice, Chandler, Ariz.

Dylan Chavez, B.A. in Psychology, Mesa, Ariz.

Meghan Doherty, B.S. in Nutrition, Frankfort, Ill. and Scottsdale, Ariz.

David Edwards, B.A. in Psychology, Mesa, Ariz.

Bernadette Francois, B.S. in Nutrition, Mesa, Ariz.

Robyn Gowdy, B.B.A. in Management and Organizational Behavior, Mesa, Ariz.

Crystal Luster, B.A. in Criminal Justice, Gilbert, Ariz.

Krystin Newman, B.A. in Theology, Gilbert, Ariz.

Marissa Petty, B.S. in Nutrition, Gold Canyon, Ariz.

Theresa Sullivan, B.S. in Nutrition, Gilbert, Ariz.

Lindsay Wantland, B.A. in Communication Arts, Chandler, Ariz.

For more information about Benedictine University at Mesa, including athletics and enrollment, please visit ben.edu/mesa, contact mesa@ben.edu or (602) 888-5533. The University is accepting applications for fall 2015 enrollment.

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Benedictine University at Mesa is a branch campus of Benedictine University, an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine is ranked No. 1 among the country’s fastest-growing campuses between 2002-2012 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit doctoral institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the fourth consecutive year in 2014.

Benedictine University at Mesa Class of 2015

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