Commencement Weekend April 29 and 30

April 28, 2011

Commencement Weekend April 29 and 30More than 960 students will receive undergraduate or graduate degrees from Saint Leo University during ceremonies set for Friday evening, Saturday morning, and Saturday afternoon. The ceremonies will take place in the Marion Bowman Activities Center.

At the Friday ceremony, at 7 p.m., students who have studied at the undergraduate level either through Saint Leo's Weekend and Evening Program, or through the Center for Online Learning, will receive their degrees. The degrees to be awarded include the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), the Bachelor of Arts (BA), and the Bachelor of Science (BS). Degree recipients will hear from Pamela Tate, who is the president and chief executive officer of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. She will also receive an honorary degree. Her selection as speaker is especially fitting as most of the degree recipients attending the Friday ceremony returned to college during adulthood. Two of the students have been selected to deliver class farewell addresses. Maria Elena Marian, a business administration student from Land O'Lakes, FL, will represent the Weekend and Evening Program students. Melissa Lee Buchanan, who studied criminal justice, lives in Tacoma, WA, and will speak on behalf of Center for Online Learning students.

Saturday morning

Saturday at 9 a.m., students from a variety of disciplines at the graduate level will convene. In the cases of two of the academic degrees to be awarded, the students graduating constitute the first class of Saint Leo graduates: that is true for both the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, an innovative online offering, as well as for the Education Specialist (Ed.S.) which offers those with a master's degree in education or a related field further leadership instruction. Fourteen members of the Class of 2011 studied for the Master of Social Work, and another 17 studied for the Education Specialist degree. The commencement ceremony also recognizes those who have earned the: Master of Education; the Master of Instructional Design; the Master of Arts in theology; the Master of Science in criminal justice; and the Master of Business Administration. The degree candidates will be addressed by prominent Tampa attorney Ronald L. Weaver, a specialist in environmental and land-use law issues, and a principal in the statewide firm Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A.

A veteran of the U.S. Navy and Master of Social Work student from Virginia, Joseph V. Schnurbusch, will deliver the class farewell message. Schnurbusch now works with a nonprofit organization that provides emergency financial assistance to Marines, sailors, and their families. This is the second degree he has earned from Saint Leo; his first was a bachelor's degree in sociology conferred in 2008.

Saturday afternoon

The final ceremony of the weekend begins at 2 p.m. to award undergraduate degrees to students who attended University Campus in traditional, weekday classes. The degrees to be awarded include the BSW, BA, and BS. Students will be addressed by U.S. Rep. Richard B. Nugent from the 5th Congressional District of Florida, which includes the local communities around University Campus area and parts or all of six other Florida counties. Prior to his election in 2010, the representative was the Hernando County sheriff, and is an alumnus from the Saint Leo class of 1991, when he earned his bachelor's degree in criminology. An honorary degree will be awarded to former Tampa Tribune sports editor Thomas M. "Tom" McEwen, who chronicled professional sports in the Tampa Bay area for decades, and who mentored many professional sports writer and editors working today.

Graduating senior Davion Cooper of Montego Bay, Jamaica, will deliver the student farewell address. He has earned a degree in accounting and has been accepted into North Carolina State University's Master of Accountancy program with a scholarship from Ernst & Young. Several of Cooper's classmates have also distinguished themselves already with plans for further study. Among them:

  • Sean Imfeld, a business major from Land O'Lakes, FL, will attend Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA in the fall.


  • Robin Hughes, of Spring Hill, FL, who came to Saint Leo as a political science and pre-law student after working as a paralegal and judicial assistant, has selected Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas Law School in Orlando to attend in the fall. She was accepted into five other Florida law schools as well.


  • Brandon Brooks, a biology major from Land O'Lakes, will enroll in the fall at Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine in Miami Shores, FL.


  • Daniel Salahuddin, a biology major from Bradenton, FL, has been selected for the National Institutes of Health Academy program in Bethesda, MD, a nationally competitive fellowship program in biomedical research for future doctors and scientists.
  • Bruce Cutler, a mathematics major and soccer player from Scotland, was awarded an NCAA post-graduate scholarship to help fund his master's degree studies in computer science at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA.