(courtesy photo)
(courtesy photo)

MESA — She’s a founding member of the Benedictine University at Mesa Student Senate, an active member of her church, a stage manager and actor in a local play, and a part-time employee. Somehow, Marlo Enrico still finds time to be a full-time student.

Enrico, a Communication Arts major at Benedictine — the fastest-growing private research university in the country — admits that her first semester of college has not been without challenges.

“There were times this semester were I felt very overwhelmed,” said Enrico, one of the first students to attend classes at the Benedictine University at Mesa branch campus. “I had a lot on my plate. It was also a little difficult transitioning from living at home to living at the residence hall and being apart from my family for awhile.”

Enrico is part of a small group of Benedictine students living in dorms at the nearby Phoenix Marriott Mesa.  She quickly found a community of students, faculty and staff to ease the transition.

Marlo Enrico, a communication arts major at Benedictine University's Mesa campus (courtesy photo)
Marlo Enrico, a communication arts major at Benedictine University’s Mesa campus (courtesy photo)

“At Benedictine we are all like family,” Enrico said. “I’ve made some very close friendships here, and whenever I felt overwhelmed or homesick, I always had someone to talk to. There is a really strong sense of community here, and that’s one of my favorite things about going to this school.

“The best part about being a part of the Benedictine community is that the people here really care about you,” she added. “Their main focus is to help you succeed. If you’re struggling in a class, they won’t tell you to drop it and take an easier class. They will ask you why you’re struggling and see how they can fix it. Everything the school is doing is always in the student’s best interest.”

In between her classes and many personal extracurricular endeavors, including being the vice president of marketing and communications for Student Senate and a member of a young adult Bible study group, Enrico experienced something unexpected as a result of attending a values-based Catholic university – a strengthening of her personal faith.

“One of the most positive things that happened this year that I did not expect was that I became very close to my religion,” she said. “I grew up Catholic, but I hardly understood what being Catholic really meant. I learned so much in my theology class, and by just being around a Catholic community in general.

“I love being able to go home and tell my sisters all the different stories about saints, miracles and icons,” she added. “Going to a Catholic university really solidified my faith. I’ve grown so much and I think it’s one of the most beautiful things that’s happened to me this semester.”

As her faith strengthened, so did her commitment to her education. Enrico is on target to earn her bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts in 2017 and plans to work in the broadcast media industry as a script writer or news anchor. She believes the preparation she is receiving at BenU is invaluable.

“I know I made a good choice by coming here,” she said. “I’ve been doing very well in my classes and I truly feel like I’m getting a good education. When it comes down to it, the most important part about college is getting a good education and knowing how to apply it in the real world, and I feel like that’s exactly what I’m getting.”

Alberto Carrazco agrees.

Alberto Carrazco, president of the Student Senate at Benedictine University's Mesa campus. (courtesy photo)
Alberto Carrazco, president of the Student Senate at Benedictine University’s Mesa campus. (courtesy photo)

Carrazco, Student Senate president at Benedictine University at Mesa, said that although he was skeptical at first, he is committed to the campus’s problem-based learning style and believes the university has helped him become a student leader.

“This campus gave me a voice. I have always been warned that in a college environment I would have a hard time being heard by higher ups,” Carrazco said. “It’s not like that here at all. Our entire campus, staff and administration are open to us. We are not just numbers in a classroom. We are students who are being heard. Students can go to an office and put out an idea or concern and faculty and staff will work with you to find a solution.”

Benedictine University at Mesa provides a private, values-based education grounded in history, heritage and Catholic tradition. Education and technology blog edcetera named Benedictine University at Mesa among 10 universities in the nation on the cutting edge of tech for 2013.

Current degree offerings include a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Bachelor of Arts in Theology, Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Bachelor of Business Administration in Management and Organizational Behavior, in addition to a minor in Religious Studies. The University is accepting applications for spring and fall 2014 enrollment. The spring semester begins Jan. 21.