The only thing I would change is not being able to stay longer. – SiMesa 2015 Final Blog

Part 1 by Lien Do

WAIT! Am I leaving Arizona already?

WOW, did these last three months fly by fast. The amount of things I was able to accomplish this semester were unreal – road trip to San Diego, Grand Canyon, hiking for the first time, and many many more, and all of this after bonding with the faculty and the other SiMesa students.

SiMesa students Megan, Marc, and Lien with Wilkes staff Patti Naumann

SiMesa students Megan, Marc, and Lien with Wilkes staff Patti Naumann

Our last and final trip this semester was to go to the Grand Canyon with Patti Naumann. We almost gave Patti a heart attack because Megan, Marc and I decided it would be a fun idea to stand on the edge of a cliff at the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is a must-see for its natural beauty.  It is breathtaking, and trust me when I say this – pictures do not justify how beautiful it is.
The things that I am going to miss about Arizona are countless, from the people to the food to the

GrandCanyon1 people, it couldn’t have made this trip any better. I got to spend time with 3 amazing people (Marc, Megan, and De’Von) and bond great bonds with them! I am so grateful and thankful for this experience and for the people who made it all possible. Mike, Jen, Patti, Ryan, Dr. Liuzzo and the professors at Wilkes University in Mesa have put their hearts into this place. Working with Ryan this semester was a great resume builder and a really fun time. During our time in Arizona, the faculty worked to make sure that we were going to make this trip worth every penny, and I can never thank them enough. During our time in the Marriott, we built relationships with the staff. They were excellent, and worked hard to make sure that we had everything we needed. After spending so much time around the Marriott, it was hard to say goodbye to them.

I could not have imagine this trip being any better than it was. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to fly 3000 miles away, and all of the opportunities and people I meant through this program. My best advice for someone considering whether or not they want to go to Arizona is to just do it. There is nothing to lose and so much to gain.

Part 2 by De’Von Moore

OOOOOOOOOOO Arizona, I will miss thee.

If you’ve ever seen the TV show “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody”, my life has been similar. Living in a hotel was an awesome experience. Getting to know the staff like General Manager Donald, and my favorite restaurant workers, Parker, Randy, Rikki and Daniel. Besides sitting by the pool every day, I think my favorite part about the hotel was meeting different people every week and listening to their stories.  Everyone says we are lucky that Wilkes University allows us to come out here for a semester, and they’re right because it is an great experience.

I came to Arizona because I never got a chance to study abroad and it looks good on a resume. But who would have thought I would have a chance to get an interview with the Phoenix Suns, recruit for Wilkes, go to a free concert, go hiking with Dr. Rexer, Dr. Alves and Dr. Edmonds, or even help the locals around Mesa!

The things I will miss –
The Weather, In-N-Out Burger, Wilkes University Mesa Staff, The Hotel Staff, Scottsdale/Mill Ave, Yogi’s Teriyaki and Grill, Slickables, George’s Gyros, Wingstop, and Red Devil Pizza.

De'Von and his favorite model, Daphne Joy

De’Von and his favorite model, Daphne Joy

Come to Arizona so you can see the beautiful weather, landscape, Dr. Liuzzo, Mike G, Patti, Jen, Ryan, Sean, Carl and the rest of the faculty at Wilkes U in Mesa.  If you are lucky you might be blessed to meet your favorite model  Daphne Joy in Scottsdale, or see Odell Beckham Jr. on Mill Ave.

The only thing I would change is not being able to stay longer.

Thank you Arizona, Wilkes University-Mesa, Wilkes University

Final Tip: COME TO ARIZONA and a reminder:  “Your life is your message to the world. Make it inspiring. Write something worth READING.” – Beyonce

Part 3 by Megan Powers

As I sit on the airplane on my way back to Pennsylvania, I have had the time to really sit back and think about how great of an experience this was.  I made so many new friendships that made this whole trip worth it.

Megan and Marc at Chase Field watching the D-Backs take on the Pirates

Megan and Marc at Chase Field watching the D-Backs take on the Pirates

As our time in Arizona ended, Marc and I were able to finally get to a MLB game, spending out last Friday at Chase Field in Phoenix watching the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The seats were awesome and it was nice to sit outside at a baseball game and not have to worry about humidity!

So to sum up my adventures as a SiMesa student… Arizona State baseball games, hiking in Sedona, viewing the Grand Canyon, MLB baseball game, and spending my nights & Fridays poolside. I’m pretty sure that sounds A LOT better than rainy Wilkes Barre.

Making the choice to come to Arizona was the hardest decision of my life, but ended up being the best. Take the risk, make the best of every opportunity given to you, and let yourself experience a journey that will leave you with unbelievable memories.

See photos from the SiMesa Student Adventures for Spring 2015 on our Facebook page!

Any Wilkes University current or potential student who is interested in the Semester in Mesa program, please contact:
Bridget Turel


“We’re Basically on Vacation.” – SiMesa 2015 Blog #3

Part 1 by Lien Do

I had the opportunity to volunteer at SPARK! SPARK!, which is a local art festival held by the Mesa Art Center. There were some really unique stations I got to work at, and I met a lot of interesting people. Shrinky Dinks were crazy fun, and the Water Art Graffiti was probably the coolest thing I ever seen. At the Shrinky Dinks station, people were able to make any design they wanted on a special paper that shrinks when it is heated up in the oven. All the pieces were made in to fish that are on display outside of the Mesa Art Center. At the Water Art Graffiti station, the large LED panels were activated by water, and you could make any design on the panels. While I was there, I got to explore my inner child – who said volunteering couldn’t be fun?!

SiMesa students in Sedona, AZ, with faculty members Dr. Jeffrey Alves, Dr. Jennifer Edmonds, and Dr. Marianna Rexer

SiMesa students in Sedona, AZ, with faculty members Dr. Jeffrey Alves, Dr. Jennifer Edmonds, and Dr. Marianna Rexer

A few members of the Wilkes faculty took us to Sedona and went on a hike with us. Other than my phone screen cracking and walking into a cactus, the trip was amazing! Who knew rocks could look so cool? We hiked up Cathedral Rock, and Dr. Alves, Dr. Rexer, and Dr.Edmonds were great hikers! I think they’re in better shape than I am.  Dr. Rexer even pulled out some yoga moves while we were standing on a slanted platform! I couldn’t even stand, let alone do yoga. Once we got to the top of Cathedral Rock, the view was breathtaking no matter where you were standing.

Dr. Marianne Rexer calmly enjoying yoga at the peak of their hike in Sedona

Dr. Marianne Rexer calmly enjoying yoga at the top of Cathedral Rock

After our hike in Sedona, we drove up to Jerome, Arizona. Jerome is an old mining (ghost) town that’s built vertically on a mountain. You were able to get a full view of the Sedona red rocks while you were in Jerome.

One of the goals on my Arizona bucket list was to go to California since it’s only five hours away. Over Easter Break, Marc Perry and I went on a spontaneous trip to San Diego and Los Angeles. Five hour car ride with Marc… but it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Although the drive was long, it was definitely worth it. San Diego was all I expected and more, the beach and weather were fantastic. Everyone had Ferraris and Lamborghinis, but I obviously left mine back in Pennsylvania. After spending two days there, I’m surprised we were able to drag ourselves away from the beaches long enough to drive home.

Lien and Marc's trip to San Diego, CA.

Lien and Marc’s trip to San Diego, CA.

Since the semester is almost over, De’Von, Megan, Marc and I have been soaking up the sun every Friday after work. If you haven’t been jealous yet, you should be now. We’re basically on vacation; sitting by the pool and getting our tan on.  This is the life!

Tips from Lien:
1. Don’t walk into a cactus
2. Get a selfie stick (make sure your phone is stable on it so you don’t drop your phone).
3. Make a trip out to California if you can.
4. Get in shape so you can keep up with the professors on hikes.

See more photos from the SiMesa students on our Facebook page.

Part 2 by De’Von Moore

Being in Arizona gave me an opportunity to work at the Pot of Gold Music Festival, a four-day celebration of music and food sponsored by Lucky Man Concerts in March. The Wilkes Marketing Coordinator, Jen Atkins, told us (SiMesa students) that they were looking for volunteers to sell merchandise for the concert, and we jumped at it.  We spent the entire day Saturday selling t-shirts and posters, watching the acts, and enjoying the weather at Tempe Beach Park.  It was a great opportunity, as I met some pretty cool and interesting people, and got to see a free concert.

De'Von, Lien, and Megan setting up for the Pot of Gold Music Festival

De’Von, Lien, and Megan setting up for the Pot of Gold Music Festival

There were about 30 musical acts, from different genres, performing on two different stages.  Some of the headliners were Kendrick Lamar (my favorite because I only listen to his music), Fall Out Boy, Korn and Bastille.  The only way the festival could have been better is if the Queen Bey herself (Beyoncé) performed.

Tips by De’Von for an Arizona music festival
1. Drink Water
2. Bring lunch (if working)
3. Bring Cash (avoid ATM fees)
4. Wear sunblock

Part 3 by Megan Powers

Accounting Major Megan Powers at VITA

Accounting Major Megan Powers 

Since I am an accounting major, I was given the opportunity to do VITA while here in Mesa. VITA stands for “Volunteer Income Tax Assistance”, and is a program where people can come and get their tax return done for free.  It was a volunteering opportunity in which myself and Dr. Marianne Rexer spent a few hours on Monday nights at the local Salvation Army completing the returns for people. I would highly recommend to any accounting major that they get involved in VITA if possible, it gave me a chance to work with tax software, and experience a real life aspect of my major.

Going to Arizona – Genius Decision.

Part 1 by Lien Do

So what’s better than the beautiful weather and amazing views everywhere you go? The fact that you get to brag about it to everybody back in Pennsylvania. Every morning I wake up to tweets and snap chats of all the horrible weather in Pennsylvania, and remember that I made a genius decision on going to Arizona.

Lien Do hiking the mountains of Phoenix

Lien Do hiking the mountains of Phoenix

Over the last couple weeks, we started working as student recruiters and administrative support at the front desk. Our boss, Ryan Hess is nothing but AWESOME! De’von, AJ and I hiked another mountain which can be easily compared to as Mt. Everest because it was so hard.

Megan and I have been recruiting at many of the community colleges with Ryan Hess. It’s been a learning experience so far, especially for me since I am a marketing major. With all the hands on experience, I have been getting a better understanding of how marketing works. Speaking to varies students about Wilkes University and how it has affected my life, makes me very proud to be a Colonel.

Over Spring Break, Marc and I went to the first annual BrewFest in Downtown Mesa. We got to meet the owner of Desert Eagle Brewing Company. Desert Eagle is a Brewing Company located in Downtown Mesa. Being 21, Marc and I were able to taste some of their beers, and it was a fantastic.

I was lucky enough to be invited to see “Simply EPIK”, with Cindy Ornstein, the Executive Director of the Mesa Arts Center (MAC). “Simply EPIK” is a performance put on by EPIK Dance Company, a

Lien and Advisory Board Member Cindy Ornstein at the Mesa Arts Center

Lien and Wilkes Advisory Board Member Cindy Ornstein at the Mesa Arts Center

non-profit local dance company and Simply Three, a string trio. The two amazing group’s performances was like nothing I have ever seen before, in other words, they were SIMPLY EPIC! While I was there, Mrs. Ornstein was kind enough to show me around the Mesa Art Center. Trust me when I tell you, it’s phenomenal.  The structure of the outside and inside made it win an award for the International Association of Venue Managers. If you ever get the chance to see a show at the venue or even walk pass it, I strongly suggest that you do.

Part 2 by De’von Moore

De'von conquering Camelback Mountain

De’von conquering Camelback Mountain

Aj, Lien and I conquered the big bad Camelback Mountain. There are two trails you can take Echo or Cholla. It took about 3 total hours (up and down) with a few breaks along the way. The summit of Camelback Mountain is at 2,704 feet above sea level. It is worth the journey. The view is #BEAUTIFUL. You get to see the whole valley and multimillion dollar homes (Hi, EMMA Stone). I am not much of a hiker but I would like to start because I had such a great time.

Lolo's Chicken & Waffles

Lolo’s Chicken & Waffles

After the hike, we went to Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles in Scottsdale. If you like soul food or never had it, I would go and try it. They have a variety of homemade southern food, that you can only get at home or in the south.  Sunday morning they play gospel music and other times they play Hip-hop & R&B. And they have kool-aid on draft.  I got the “Ribeye steak and eggs”. Lien and Aj got Lo-Lo’s, which is 3 piece chicken and 2 waffles.

Tips for conquering Camelback:
Bring Water (2 Bottles)
Comfortable clothes
Go in the morning to avoid the Heat
Music (if going by yourself)

Part 3 by Marc Perry

Megan Power and Marc Perry check out an ASU baseball game... in February.

Megan Powers and Marc Perry check out an ASU baseball game… in February.

Megan and I went to the ASU baseball game, and in the great words of Marc Perry… “It was SICK”. Who gets to watch D1 baseball in February? It was nice getting to watch a baseball game in February and not be cold. Usually there is still snow on the ground in Pennsylvania and our team has to shovel snow off the field for practice. But here it was 80 degrees and sunny. It was a beautiful day for baseball game. Wild time, would do it again.

Hello 75 and Sunny – Goodbye 20 and Snowy! Semester in Mesa 2015.

Hello 75 and sunny, goodbye 20 and snowy!  That’s right, we finally arrived in Arizona!

My name is Lien Do, and I am a senior at Wilkes University studying Marketing. The wonderful people who are on this SiMesa journey with me include Marc Perry (junior), studying marketing, Megan Powers (junior), studying accounting, and De’Von Moore (junior) studying management.

SiMesa 2015 Students

SiMesa 2015 Students (l-r) Marc Perry, De’Von Moore, Lien Do, Megan Powers

Everyone’s adventure out to Arizona was different. De’Von had the most patience out of all of us because he took the 36 hour drive from Maryland to Arizona. His drive here was definitely a long one but exciting because he got to see a lot of different terrain from the Windmill Farms to the dry desert. De’Von stopped in Nashville, TN, and ate at a restaurant called The Aquarium. He also stopped by Amarillo, TX, where he had his first Wing Stop, Lemon Pepper.

Megan escaped the cold a week early and had the chance to come out to visit her family. She got to do a lot of sight-seeing and lucky enough to spend a couple days in the warm weather!

As for Marc and I, we spent 6 hours on a plane – exciting, I know. We were counting down the seconds ’til we landed, but those seconds seemed like an eternity. As the plane went over Phoenix, we saw all the lights and couldn’t believe that we were finally here.

Phoenix Marriott Mesa Hotel

Phoenix Marriott Mesa Hotel

Once we all got to the Marriott, we were taken back by the fact that this was where we were going to be staying for the next three months, trust me if you saw this hotel, you would be too. What makes the experience at the Marriot so much better is the staff. They are very friendly and welcoming… legends wearing Marriott shirts. We basically became best friends within the first 30 mins of my arrival.


Phoenix Marriott Mesa Hotel

As our week went on, we started classes and had a great mini tour of the Greater Phoenix area. The Mesa Marketing Coordinator, Jen Atkins, took us around ASU’s campus, and showed us where spring training takes place. After the tour, we had In-N-Out Burger for the first time ever. Although it was kind of messy, it was absolutely delicious! I’m still questioning why we don’t have one of these in Pennsylvania.  It would save lives.

Our first adventure of the semester consisted of a scavenger hunt that Jen put together. Downtown Mesa reminded me a lot of Downtown Wilkes-Barre because of how all the restaurants are local instead of chains, which I thought was cool because you wouldn’t expect that in a big city. We went to stores such as Sweet Cakes, Gotham City Comics, Lost Dutchman Coffee, and many more

Mesa Arts Center

Mesa Arts Center

wonderful businesses! Sweet Cakes Cafe was my favorite local business, though, because they offer great food and sweets. They also have a 5-layered brownie… I don’t think I need to explain how great those are, the name says it all! The most unique business I encountered was the Mesa Art Center. The structure of center made it very appealing.

Our second adventure was a hike up South Mountain that Deanna, a current student at Wilkes

Lien and Megan on South Mountain

Lien and Megan on South Mountain

Mesa, put together. This was my first time ever going on a hike and I was pretty sure I was going to make Marc carry me. This hike was slightly difficult but that’s only because that’s the most cardiovascular activity I’ve done in ages. Thankfully we didn’t see any strange creatures lurking around. Overall though it was worth it, we got to the top of the mountain and the view was unbelievable!

This is my first time on the west coast and experiencing a different region of the world. Within our first two weeks out here, we’ve met some great people and are having a great time. I’m definitely excited to see what else this semester has in stored for us!

The view from South Mountain

The view from South Mountain


  • If you are over 21, make sure you have a horizontal ID and not a vertical one.
  • I know they get annoying, but read the e-mails that are sent out so you don’t forget any important paper work.
  • Drink water, it’ll save your life (seriously, you’ll get dehydrated).

Guidance by Mentorship by Austin Bennett

Knowledge can be obtained through books and experience, but empowerment–that is beyond self. It is the parent who says, “I love you;” or the teacher who says, “I believe in you;” or the coach who says, “You got this;” or the spouse who says, “I trust you.” Trusting your own abilities does not come easy. Confidence is gained through failure. It also comes by way of continued encouragement and guidance. Mentorship is essential to success.

There once was a particular academic tradition where professors referred to their students as “distinguished comrades.”* Education was built on mutual trust and respect. It was a mutual endeavor built around camaraderie not mere self-reliance. Similarly, in the Ancient Near East, the Hebrews viewed those who pursued scholasticism as part of a family unit. Instructors were referred to as “fathers.” Students were referred to as “sons.”* Much like a child learning from a parent, students were guided by teachers for the betterment of self and community. In both traditions, a close-knit-community was formed around scholasticism and teachers were viewed as mentors.

When I chose to pursue my MFA in Creative Writing at Wilkes University I was promised a mentor-based education. At that time, I did not fully know what that meant nor did I whole-heartedly buy the rhetoric knowing the competitive nature of colleges. Yet, what I found was something closer to camaraderie and kinship than cool academia. I became at once a peer and a son. When I wrestled with choosing my creative thesis, fearing I was out of my depth, encouragement came in the most unlikely of ways. I had a dream. The program director, Bonnie Culver, came to me like a fairy-god-mother and squelched my fears by pointing to mentorship. She said, “That’s why we’re here.” When my wife gave birth to our first child mid-way through my creative thesis, my mentor, Jeff Talarigo, offered more than advice on writing: he offered fatherly advice.

Author Bio: Austin Bennett is a son, brother, friend, husband, father. He received his M.A. in Creative Writing from Wilkes University in 2014 and is currently pursuing his M.F.A.

*Kuper, Abraham. Scholarship: Two Convocations Addresses on University Life. Trans. Harry Van Dyke. Grand Rapids: Christian’s Library Press, 2014. Kindle file.

Our First Arizona Graduates

The Honorable Scott Smith, former mayor of the City of Mesa, will be the keynote speaker as Wilkes University awards its first master of business administration degrees on Jan. 13. Three students will graduate with their master’s degrees in a 6 p.m. ceremony at the Mesa Arts Center. Diplomas will be presented by Wilkes President Patrick F. Leahy.


The graduates are (left to right) Kelly Rogers MBA ’15, Jamie McWilliams MBA ’15, Erica Roca ’09 MBA ’15. These students are the University’s first graduates in Mesa.

Smith was mayor when Wilkes opened its center in Mesa as one of four colleges invited to participate in the H.E.A.T. (Healthcare, Education, Aerospace, Technology/Tourism) Initiative for Economic Development in Mesa, designed to increase college opportunities and spur economic growth.

The graduation ceremony will be in the Nesbitt-Elliott Playhouse at the arts center. There will be a reception to immediately follow the ceremony in The Brown Sculpture Courtyard.

Wilkes began offering its MBA program in Mesa in 2013, and will offer bachelor’s degrees in 2015 along with the M.A. in creative writing and M.S. in education.  Wilkes is located in the Mesa Center for Higher Education, 245 W. Second St. in Mesa.

About Wilkes University

Wilkes University is an independent institution of higher education dedicated to academic and intellectual excellence through mentoring in the liberal arts, sciences and professional programs. Founded in 1933, the University provides its students with the experience, mentoring and education necessary for career and intellectual development as well as personal growth. Learn more at

The Culmination

Well, here we are. At the finish line of the semester; but I’ll be crossing with bittersweet excitement. Hell, I listened to Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve three times on my last day to work. We have created our own little lives out here, like a separate identity. I walked around Entrepix for the last time, ensuring to say goodbye to each person. I walked by my completed project, sitting on the production floor. I stopped when I saw it; doing a cool internship project was the reason I wanted to work for Entrepix, it was even the reason I came to Arizona. Somehow until that moment, I never realized that the most memorable parts of my experience out here were because of people I’ve met.

I came to Arizona for a resume builder, and because I was tired of the daily grind. Well the daily grind sure was taken care of, and I have a few new lines on my resume. Great. But what I truly gained in Arizona cannot be measured in GPA points, money, or objects of any kind. It’s feeling unsure walking into a new internship, and the satisfaction of a ‘good job’ handshake walking out. It’s having nervous jitters driving a rental car to Las Vegas, and the calm of deep 3AM conversation driving through endless desert. It’s the pain of climbing every mountain possible, and the self-gratification of standing on the top. It’s the uncertainty of leaving a cozy college campus for a semester of who-knows-what, and the relief of it being the right choice. It’s hopes, fears, and all the other abstract nouns mashed into a blob we like call the human experience. And whether you’re in Wilkes-Barre, Mesa, or anywhere, you’re living it one minute at a time.

So yes, I’m going to miss being in Arizona. I’m going to miss my co-workers, the other students, the Mexican food, the scenery, the hotel staff, and living with 10 of Wilkes’ crazier students, but life is longer than one semester. And with what I truly learned out in Arizona, I’m excited to go home because the adventure continues, the landscape just changes. See you all soon!

~Danny Lykens




P.S. moral of the story: Collect experiences over things. Make friendships over money. And live dangerously; just don’t die.