Benedictine leaves lasting imprint on students’ life journeys

The fall semester at Benedictine University is well under way. Returning students have resumed their collegiate journeys and new students are beginning theirs.

I once had the opportunity to work with Sr. Mary Andrew Matesich, O.P., former president of Ohio Dominican College (now University). Sr. Mary Andrew always insisted the college’s major publications contain pictures of the commencement ceremony. She insisted that the only reason the college existed was to graduate students imbued with knowledge gained in the classroom and the values inherent in a Catholic education.

While a great president, Sr. Mary Andrew was also a great teacher. I took her lesson into my own presidency and have always functioned under the mantra that the only reason Benedictine University exists is to graduate students full of knowledge gleaned in the classroom and associated activities, and imbued with the values inherent in a Catholic/Benedictine education.

Benedictine University is not a destination, it is simply a “stopping place” on our students’ longer journey called life.

Life has many stages. The college years are sometimes the most transformative of these stages because it is truly a time when young people blossom into adults. Their minds are being challenged and they are offered more freedoms and responsibilities. It is a time of learning, exploring, reasoning, and sometimes soul-searching. College opens their eyes to new people, cultures, religions, ideas and facts. What each student does with this information is unique to them.

When students arrive — whether they are traditional undergraduates, adults, online students or Asian students studying in their home countries — they sometimes have anxiety and fears about this stage of their journey. Am I good enough? Can I succeed here? Is this the right place for me?

At Benedictine University, new students are welcomed into the traditions, values and history of a university rooted in a Catholic and Benedictine heritage. During their time here, they are asked to seek out their highest potential, their deepest kindness and their willingness to contribute to the greater good.

Our students are welcomed, then nurtured and challenged in mind, body and spirit. Their journey takes them through academics, athletics, clubs, organizations, volunteerism and more. Through it all they are reminded and encouraged to seek out the best in themselves and others.

Something magical happens between the time a person enrolls and graduation. Self-confidence and ability swell, and Benedictine University becomes home. They may arrive with doubts and questions, but the welcoming spirit of the university from the day students arrive here to the day we send them off at graduation helps to transform them into confident, educated individuals.

Commencement is a reminder of the strength of the Benedictine community, of which our graduates are lifetime members. We completed six graduation ceremonies this year — two in Illinois and four in China/Vietnam. These graduates were confident they were good enough, that they had succeeded, and that Benedictine University was the right place for them.

They take with them into the world all they have learned and all they have been challenged to do and become. They are ready to continue their journey and to make a difference in each aspect of their lives.

After students graduate, we remind them they will always be welcomed back to their college home. They will always be asked to live their highest potential, their deepest kindness and their willingness to contribute to the greater good.

From the moment students step on campus, to graduation and beyond, they are connected here, they are needed here and they are wanted here. They will always be Benedictine. We see their success as our success.

And, in the words of Mr. Spock, “May they live long and prosper.”

Ÿ William Carroll is president of Benedictine University.