“Both my dad and grandfather are engineers and after my grandfather retired, he served as a Habitat for Humanity crew leader for 16 years!” said Marisa Coene, a senior Biomedical Engineering student who describes her degree as “the perfect junction” between problem solving and helping people.

“My grandfather was building houses as a 78-year-old-man. That’s something I’ve always associated with being an engineer — hard work and good work.”

"Catholic has allowed me to grow in every area of my life."
– Marisa Coene

Coene is on the cusp of graduating with both her Bachelor and Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering. She came to Catholic University with Advanced Placement credits and has over-elected every semester to finish both degrees in four years.

“That was something I liked about Catholic,” said Coene, “the opportunity to do an accelerated program. I thought, ‘Wait, I can do this? It sounds feasible and I can save a lot of time and money and get my master's,” said Coene.

While searching for schools, Coene discovered that this is one of the only Catholic universities on the east coast with a biomedical engineering program. She was drawn to the curriculum at Catholic University that emphasizes educating the whole person.

“Ultimately, I decided to come to Catholic University because I knew there was more to me than just engineering and science. I wanted a well rounded education too. Catholic has allowed me to grow in every area of my life,” said Coene.

Last spring, Coene had the opportunity to grow spiritually while leading a mission trip to the U.S-Mexican border. She described the experience as “eye-opening,” as she and her team spent ten days experiencing the life of a migrant and serving local communities.

Outside of the long hours she spends in the Engineering building, Coene is also a member of the University Honors Program and has taken several courses in philosophy and theology. One of her favorites is the storied class on the virtues taught by President John Garvey. She said her classes in the liberal arts have helped her to navigate some of the morally murky situations she encounters as a student engineer working in major research labs around the D.C. area.

“CUA has helped me to develop that moral compass I knew I would need in my field. It’s taught me how to explain and defend my faith-based beliefs, what I know to be true, using logic and reason. That's been a huge part of my education and is what I hope to do with my education — to discover and share truth scientifically, but also look at that truth with a moral sense as well. Catholic has really helped me see faith and science side by side — how beautifully they complement one another,” said Coene.

Marisa Coene with child on mission trip
Marisa Coene and a new friend during a mission trip to the U.S-Mexican border.