Former Cardinals Pitcher Andy Benes Shares the Importance of Pursuing a Degree at SLU Mid-Year Commencement

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Benes is a 2011 graduate of the University’s School for Professional Studies

Former St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher Andy Benes at SLU Commencement in December 2012

Former Cardinals pitcher Andy Benes talks about the importance of finishing his degree after retiring from professional baseball. Benes is a 2011 graduate of the School for Professional Studies.

“After retiring from baseball, I felt it was important to finish my degree. And I chose SLU because of its reputation for academic excellence,” Benes said.

Saint Louis University’s 2012 mid-year commencement speaker, Andy Benes, is a man of many accomplishments – St. Louis Baseball Cardinals pitcher and Olympic Gold Medalist to name just two – but when he stepped to the podium at SLU’s Chaifetz Arena Friday, Dec. 14, he was enthusiastic about sharing some very meaningful education experiences with the assembled graduates and those attending the ceremony.

Benes, who left college during his junior year to sign a professional contract with the San Diego Padres, made a promise to his parents that he would someday finish his degree. At the time, he didn’t realize that promise would take more than 26 years to fulfill. But in 2011, Benes earned his degree in organizational studies from SLU’s School for Professional Studies

Earning his diploma went far beyond that promise to his parents and carried on in the example he wanted to set for his children and share with others through his work with Cardinals Care and other community efforts.

“My SLU diploma is a gift I have given to myself, my family and my community,” Benes said. “I use it try to change lives by helping young people here in the St. Louis area make good decisions. I try to relay the message of hope that comes with an education.”

Like many adults who return to college after pursuing another career path, finding the right place is critical.

“After retiring from baseball, I felt it was important to finish my degree. And I chose SLU because of its reputation for academic excellence,” Benes said.

For Benes, that choice was SLU’s School for Professional Studies, also known as “SLU for Busy Adults.” While at SLU, he was able to take online and evening classes that fit his work schedule. He majored in organizational studies and currently does public relations and community outreach for the St. Louis Cardinal Baseball club.

It’s a choice that many adults are making. Whether it’s deciding to move up in a career field, move into a new field or return to the work force after raising children, the flexibility and blended options for both online and classroom courses is an important factor.

Jennifer Giancola, Ph.D., dean of the School for Professional Studies, said Benes personifies the qualities of so many working adult students.

“Andy is an excellent example of what it means to be a student at SPS, with the perseverance and determination to finish his degree—no matter the age,” Giancola said. “As a graduate from SLU, Andy continues to live out the Jesuit mission and values and I am grateful he was able to share his experiences with the class of 2012.”

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For additional information or media interviews, call Jeanette Grider at (314) 977-2538.


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Kristin Elsner
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