University partners with Raza Development Fund to help first-generation Latino students gain access to higher education, better career opportunities

March 18, 2014

Mesa, Arizona ~ Benedictine University at Mesa and the Raza Development Fund (RDF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at giving Arizona Latino students the support they need to access higher education and boost their marketability for a future career.

The MOU will immediately provide scholarships to eligible students who were unable to register for the Spring 2014 Semester at Benedictine due to financial constraints. Benedictine will distribute $17,000 in RDF scholarship funds among 10 first-generation college students to attend Benedictine University at Mesa this spring. Scholarships will range from $500 to $3,000 and will be distributed based upon need.

“In Arizona, first-generation Latino college students represent a key demographic of emerging leaders whose limited access to higher education often limits their ability to graduate in critical professional fields,” said Mick Carroll, Ph.D., Benedictine University at Mesa president. “Benedictine is uniquely positioned to meet the particular needs of first-generation Latino college students through smaller faith-based settings, which can engage the development of the whole person, afford more personal contact from admittance to graduation and provide opportunities for leadership formation through religious, civic and community partners.

“By providing the first significant locally funded scholarship program, the Raza Development Fund will help ensure these students can continue their university education this spring,” Carroll said.

As part of the agreement, scholarship recipients will participate in a leadership and faith retreat and a forum to provide feedback to the University on how best to serve the needs of the Latino student population in Arizona. The University and RDF will also assist students with internships and work-study opportunities.

RDF officials felt compelled to get involved not only to assist students in need monetarily but to help grow future socially responsible leaders.

“We are committed as a Latino organization to helping especially those families who are immigrants,” said Mark Van Brunt, chief operating officer at Raza Development Fund. “These are the first in their family to experience a college education. We also know they (chose Benedictine because they) really value a Catholic education.

They take their Catholicism and faith seriously. We also know that families go through great sacrifices, especially as they go toward their first semester to make ends meet and to stay in school,” Van Brunt said.

Service to others is a core value at Benedictine – named the fastest-growing university in the country by The Chronicle of Higher Education and among 10 universities in the nation on the cutting edge of tech for 2013 by education and technology blog edcetera. The University provides a private, values-based education grounded in history, heritage and Catholic tradition.

For more information about Benedictine, please visit www.ben.edu/mesa or the Gregory Enrollment Center at 51 E. Main St., Suite 105 in downtown Mesa, or contact us at (602) 888-5533 or mesa@ben.edu.

The University is accepting applications for fall 2014 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 2000-2010 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit research institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the third consecutive year in 2013. Education and technology blog edcetera named Benedictine University at Mesa among 10 universities in the nation on the cutting edge of tech for 2013.

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