April 27, 2013
The Saint Leo University community hosted three commencement ceremonies at University Campus Friday, April 26, and Saturday, April 27, welcoming more than 1,120 new alumni.
The ceremonies are the first among the 17 that have been scheduled for 2013 to honor graduates in the many locations where Saint Leo offers classes. At all the ceremonies, the university is paying special attention to the university’s 40-year anniversary of providing educational services to the military. University President Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., noted that in the past academic year, more than 5,000 servicemembers and more than 5,200 veterans were enrolled in Saint Leo courses.
The three commencement programs, all held in the Marion Bowman Activities Center, illustrate the diversity of options open to Saint Leo students.
The Friday evening ceremony honored new bachelor’s degree recipients, all adult learners who completed their studies either through the Center for Online Learning, or through an Education Center, including the Adult Education Center at University Campus, where students take classes on weekends and evenings. The Saturday morning ceremony honored those who attained graduate degrees, including the first recipient of the new Masters of Accounting degree, Kristen Maynard. The afternoon event was a celebration for those who earned bachelor’s degrees at the traditional University Campus setting, mainly traditional-age undergraduates.
All degree holders share the some common bonds of having attended an institution stressing six core values—excellence, respect, personal development, community, integrity, and responsible stewardship¬—to prepare them for socially responsible leadership.
Highlights of Individual Ceremonies
Graduates heard a lively talk from guest commencement speaker Dr. Jeff Borden, who is vice president of instruction and academic strategy at Pearson, one of the world’s major suppliers of educational materials. As so many of the graduates in the audience attained their degrees through online studies, Dr. Borden advised they are particularly well-suited to a work world increasingly reliant upon digital communication. More than 50 percent of the communication that occurs in the workplace is not face-to-face, he said. “You have a tremendous leg up,” he said. (Read stories of individual online graduates here.)
In another highlight, online alumnus and Board of Trustees Chairman Donald R. Tapia ’05, M.B.A. ’07, was awarded the Father Marion Bowman Distinguished Service Medal, named for one of the most significant individuals in Saint Leo’s history. (The activities center bears Father Bowman’s name.) The award had been given only six times previously, as it is meant to honor extraordinary and sustained commitment. Mr. Tapia has gone beyond the generous leadership in fundraising and philanthropy that resulted in the naming of Saint Leo’s business school after him. He has continued to be an active, highly engaged trustee, a mentor to the young men of the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity, and a role model for those who pursue higher education in adulthood. “I hope you will go back and get your master’s degrees,” Mr. Tapia said to the new graduates.
Alumna and guest speaker Michelle Osadczuk M.B.A. ’09 told the graduating audience that she was especially touched to be at the graduate level commencement exercise, as she had been unable to attend her own ceremony four years earlier. That was because she had just started a new position in her new career as a diplomat working for the U.S. State Department. She had first dreamed of pursuing such a career at age 13, when her father was a U.S. Marine assigned to embassy duty abroad, she said. When the time came for the family to choose between a new posting to Africa or a return home to the United States, she had hoped for Africa, but was disappointed. But now, she is about to realize that dream with a posting later this summer to Ethiopia where she will work as a political officer focusing on human rights and economic development issues. Americans, she said, “have more choices than people in other parts of the world.” She urged graduates to make use of their opportunities and go after their dreams. “Never sit back and wonder what could have happened. Make it happen,” she said.
Also Saturday morning, artist and human rights advocate Yankel Ginzburg, many of whose vibrant paintings and landscapes have been installed in buildings at University Campus, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. “I am in love with this institution,” he said in accepting the degree. He even joked that he would like to have the Marion Bowman Activities Center for an art studio.
At the ebullient afternoon ceremony, guest speaker and retired business executive John Terrance “Terry” Spaight urged new graduates to be among the people who “make it happen” in life, as compared to other types of personalities he said he has witnessed, those who “watch it happen, and wonder what happened.”
Some of the nearly 350 graduates already have plans for work and post-graduate careers. Graduates of the class of 2013 have been accepted to institutions including: Georgetown University School of Medicine, Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine, George Washington University, Temple University, James Madison University, North Carolina State University, the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law, Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law, and the University of Central Florida.
Eight ROTC graduates who received commissions earlier in the week as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army (see related story) were formally recognized and applauded by their classmates. Second Lieutenant Nestor Lugoviera (Lugo in shortened form) was presented with the Thomas B. Southard Leadership Award Sabre for excelling in classes, military science laboratories, and other requirements. He has already served in the Army, and is a veteran as an enlisted soldier of a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq and 12 months in Afghanistan. He participated in a special Army program to attend college and become eligible for the officer ranks through the ROTC program.
An Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters was awarded to alumnus John J. Gallagher ’69, the longest-serving county administrator in Florida. He is scheduled to retire this year as the administrator of Pasco County, home to Saint Leo’s University Campus. During Mr. Gallagher’s tenure, which dates back to 1982, the county has seen significant improvements to roads, the construction of a water and sewer system, and the creation of a county library system and county parks system.
View programs by following these links