More Than 750 to Receive Degrees in Two Commencement Ceremonies on May 1

April 21, 2010

More_Than_750A national advocate for higher education opportunities for working adults and a prominent, local Florida legislator will deliver commencement addresses at morning and afternoon ceremonies, respectively, at Saint Leo University’s main campus on Saturday, May 1. Two ceremonies are needed to accommodate the 754 people receiving degrees.

Pamela J. Tate, president of the non-profit Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, will address graduates at the 9 a.m. ceremony. Tate has worked for years with colleges and universities, and with employers and labor groups, to broaden quality educational opportunities for working adults. She has assisted institutions such as Saint Leo University in developing methods for translating work experience into college credit. Her audience well understands the importance of such advocacy. Of the 463 people receiving degrees Saturday morning, the majority, 274 individuals, have earned their bachelor’s degrees not through a traditional campus program, but through Saint Leo University’s Center for Online Learning or through its Weekend and Evening Program. Most of the graduates were employed while studying for a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Social Work degree.

The other participants in the morning program will receive master’s degrees in a variety of fields including business, education, criminal justice, instructional design, and theology. These 189 graduates include many who wish to advance in their chosen field, and so pursued advanced degrees through the university’s weekend graduate offerings, through online options, or through a combination of the two approaches.

Three student speakers have been chosen to deliver the farewell messages for this diverse morning gathering. Victor Michael Frederick, who will receive a bachelor’s degree in business administration, is traveling from his home in Pennsylvania to speak on behalf of the Center for Online Learning students. Kevin Horvath of New Port Richey, who completed his bachelor’s program in health care management, is speaking on behalf of fellow graduates from the Weekend and Evening Program. Returning alumnus and Pasco Sheriff’s Office Lt. John Corbin has earned a master’s degree in criminal justice and will be delivering the farewell for graduate students.

At the 3 p.m. ceremony, state Rep. Will Weatherford (R- Wesley Chapel), will address 291 students who will receive bachelor’s degrees at the main campus through traditional full-time study. Weatherford is highly familiar with Saint Leo, as the university’s main campus in east Pasco County is in his legislative district. He has visited the campus on several occasions to speak with both students and administrators. Recently, on the floor of the state Legislature, the representative publicly recognized a student group from the university’s chapter of the Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society and Saint Leo faculty who were visiting the Capitol that day.

The degree candidates Weatherford will address have earned bachelor’s degrees through the university’s School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, or the School of Education and Social Services. They will be entering fields including business, law enforcement, science, education, and social work. Some will be continuing their education at the graduate level. The student speaker is Sarah Ann Holz of Brandon, who has served as a student representative on the university Board of Trustees while earning a bachelor’s degree in religion, and who is beginning a career in Catholic youth ministry.