Faces of LIFE- Maria Benzo & Ivonne Begue de Benzo
Alumni, Master of Science Positive Psychology
“Mother and Daughter Together Bond with Life University”
Looking for a high-level Master’s in Positive Psychology Program brought this mother-daughter duo to Life University (Life U). Maria Benzo told her mother Ivonne Begue de Benzo that she was planning to get a master’s in positive psychology, and Begue de Benzo thought it was a wonderful idea when her daughter Benzo suggested that she do the program with her. Begue de Benzo had planned to get this degree years before, but as it goes, life happened, and she had not completed this goal.
When they both signed up for the program, mother and daughter were both living in the same city of Rochester, Minnesota and would take long walks together as part of their fitness routine. While walking many miles together, they would discuss everything with each other, which included the choice of master’s program they wanted to study together and why.
“We had lots of time to discuss which master’s program [looked like a good fit], and we did look at other options, but we wanted something that was online to do on our own time. And we just fell in love with the idea [of Life U] because Life U has a comprehensive mission that aligns with us as well. I would say that it was a very easy process to register, to apply. We had no roadblocks. The admissions people are amazing, and to this day, we stay in touch because they were so helpful. We looked at each other and said, ‘It works, it works, it works; let’s do it,” said Benzo.
Begue de Benzo still lives in Minnesota, while Benzo, her husband and two children have moved to Orlando, Florida. Benzo works remotely for the Mayo Clinic located in Rochester, Minnesota.
This is not the first time the two women have worked together professionally. While Benzo was practicing in Argentina and Begue de Benzo would visit, Benzo asked her mother to host some yoga and Tai chi sessions with her patients to help them in their recovery. Benzo’s patients loved working with Begue de Benzo. So, whenever her mother visited Argentina, Benzo had her mom work in her office.
“I did some collaboration with Maria’s practice when she was living in Argentina, when I was visiting. I am a yoga and a Tai chi instructor, so she had a group of pulmonary patients, and she invited me to do workshops. So when I was there, I was working with her patients,” said Begue de Benzo.
Both women are from Argentina, and at the age of 17, Benzo’s family moved back to the United States. They had moved back and forth several times, but Benzo stayed in Argentina to go to medical school and get her M.D. Benzo graduated from medical school in Argentina in 2008 and completed her residency there in 2012. She specialized in medicine rehabilitation and is also an acupuncturist and studied a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Staying on her own in Argentina is where Benzo said, “I began to craft my own life and my own family.” She met her husband at age 16, and they have been together for over 20 years and have two children ages 11 and 8. Benzo’s parents are both from Argentina, and she has three brothers who are all younger. Her family moved many times during her childhood. Through all the moving, the six of them became ‘the core’, as Benzo puts it.
Her husband grew up differently in that he never moved around and stayed in the same city and same house, making long-term connections with family and friends. The couple decided together that they wanted to explore life in the United States together.
Begue de Benzo studied physical education in Argentina and was a teacher there. When she came to the United States, she completed a college degree in English so that she could better understand all the nuances of the language and culture here. After that, she studied yoga in India and later trained in Tai Chi in Minnesota and has taught both.
These two women have a special mother-daughter bond and a special friendship. They like to spend time together – and not just in school or working together.
“We enjoy being with each other. I enjoy being with her a lot, and I keep learning from her a lot. We like to be outdoors, long walks, and we like to travel together. We have had our moments where we did a few trips, the two of us. We did one that involved music and dancing and other times involved a race. We did a half marathon together. Every time we get together – we go for our hair or nails – we like to talk, to laugh and then, sometimes on those long walks, we come up with wisdom,” said Begue di Benzo.
“I think we have an amazing relationship,” said Benzo. “We get along super well. I’ll say I am a good resemblance of both my parents, so I have a lot of my mom in me, so there’s a lot of things we don’t even need to agree on because we already know ‘that’s the way.’ So there is a lot of implicit things that are beneath the surface that already connect us. I’ll say this, I think our relationship got way better when I became a mother. I started to appreciate a hundred times more everything she does for me and my brothers. There’s a big recognition there.”
Their great relationship gave this mother and daughter the support, strength and resilience to complete this comprehensive master’s degree. Together, they not only learned from one another, but also from the other students and the professors in the program, creating a tight-knit academic community. Both also said that the professors were very helpful; they answered their emails right away and created an in-person environment. They also said that the professors made them feel that they belonged in the classes and the program. In December 2022, both mother and daughter crossed the stage graduating together.
“This program gave me more than I expected. I was going through a tough time with my sister’s illness,” said Begue di Benzo.
Begue di Benzo used this program on herself to help through this difficult time.
“I love the program because, even though it was online, we had zoom classes where the professors created the environment as if we were in person. We got to meet every week and talk, and the class was small, so we got to know each other,” explained Begue di Benzo.
“There is a sense of belonging to Life U. I didn’t even know Life U [existed], and then all of a sudden, we have the shirts; we love Life U, and we follow them on Instagram. As a student, you can really go deep into many courses or just accomplish what is being asked of you. There is so much content that it allows you to be curious about which one you like more. I love that it is on your own time for the learning part. For me, a full-time mom, sometimes it’s early in the morning, sometimes it’s at lunch break and sometimes it’s at night. I don’t know when I am going to get it logged, but I know I will.”
Visit this link for more information regarding the Master of Science in Positive Psychology program.
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