In 2015-2016, the Saint Leo University Alumni Association established a new recognition program to celebrate outstanding alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years. Selection is based on professional success, contribution to their communities, and living the university’s core values. Recipients possess the qualities that embody the spirit of Saint Leo and a commitment to further strengthen their alumni community. They are Lions who are truly making a difference!
Nicholas DeMarinis ’05 is a regional business leader at LinkedIn in Hong Kong. He leads multiple sales teams across Asia within LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions division and regularly speaks at local universities about the importance of building your professional brand. He volunteers at local homeless shelters and is a regional lead for the Movember Foundation. DeMarinis’ favorite Saint Leo memory is when he tried out for the men’s golf team. He didn’t make the team, but the golf coach, Art Kirk III ’99, ’03, created a second team for him and a few others who hadn’t made the team because Coach Kirk wanted to help develop their golf skills. “Being a Saint Leo alumnus is more than just a diploma. It’s being a part of a group of individuals who chose to be part of school that is run like a family.”
Bobby Edwards ’09, MBA ’13 is a chief transportation officer at Kansas City Area Transit in Kansas City, MO. He manages a $30 million budget and is responsible for more than 500 employees. Edwards credits much of his success and ability to accomplish his career goals to his studies while at Saint Leo. “The professors prepared me for my current position and were major contributors to my success. Their hands-on teaching style and the way they incorporated their real-life experience into their courses prepared me for the real world.”
Kristen Claus ’12, MBA ’13 is a special events manager at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC. She is a member of the Northern Virginia Junior League, volunteers at community 5K races, and has run the Marine Corps Marathon. Claus’ favorite Saint Leo memories are the hot weather and the Dining Hall (aka “the caf”). “When I think back on my experience as a student, I remember the people the most. I remember how caring and encouraging they were and how they helped me achieve my goals as a student. That kind attitude is something I try to pass along in my everyday life, and I feel honored to be a Saint Leo alumna.”
Daniel Torres ’14 is a catcher for professional baseball team the Modesto Nuts in Modesto, CA. The Modesto Nuts are part of the Seattle Mariners minor-league system. Torres’ favorite Saint Leo memory is being a part of the Saint Leo baseball team. He remembers the team having great camaraderie on and off the field. His advice? “Use the knowledge you’ve gained from Saint Leo, whether in the classroom or on the field/court, to achieve your dreams and aspirations.”
Amanda Davis ’07 is an academic advising coordinator at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO. During her career she has received multiple awards for being an outstanding faculty member and staff supervisor. Davis is an active member of St. Joseph Catholic Parish in Golden. She volunteers as the chapter advisor for the Delta Psi chapter of Alpha Sigma Tau and also actively volunteers with Habitat for Humanity in Denver and Habitat for Humanity International. Last summer, she hiked 75 miles and raised more than $3,000 for Operation Nine Line, a group that supports veterans and their families. She has many favorite Saint Leo memories; however, being initiated into Alpha Sigma Tau is at the top of the list. “Being a Saint Leo alumna has provided me with lifelong friendships and connections.”
Alicia Waldon ’07, MBA ’15 is the director of Enrollment Marketing for Saint Leo University in St. Leo, FL. She is responsible for attracting future students to all of the university’s locations. She volunteers as an advisor for Love Your Melon Student Ambassadors at Saint Leo, an apparel brand run by college students across the country on a mission to give a hat to every child battling cancer in America. Waldon’s favorite Saint Leo memory is reinstating Theta Phi Alpha at the university. She is proud of the women who came together, empowered through education, to develop leadership skills and give back to the community. “I didn’t realize the footprint of Saint Leo when I was a traditional student on campus. As an alumna, I really appreciate the network that is available, the many Saint Leo locations, and the reach that online learning can provide.”
Nikki Collins ’09 is the director of Catering at Disney ABC in New York, NY. She also serves as a regional marketing champion for Restaurant Associates, providing marketing expertise for several locations throughout New York City. She is diligent about the professional development of her staff, encouraging them to excel and guiding them as they seek new professional opportunities. Collins spends her free time hanging out with her dog, Toby, in Brooklyn. “Being a Saint Leo alumna is something that has always defined my path in my career and personal life. The work ethic and ambition required to succeed as a young manager in New York City takes a great deal of respect for others and serious commitment to excellence and personal development.”
Amber Loring ’06, MBA ’07 is a client service manager for the Newport Group in Tampa, FL. She has actively volunteered in her community for more than 10 years, dedicating time to the Ronald McDonald House and as a member of a pet therapy team that visits patients at VA hospitals in the area. She also implemented a pet therapy program for the chapter of the SPCA in Greensboro, NC. Loring has many fond memories of Saint Leo, but her favorite is when the bagpipes started to play as she walked to the Bowman Center for her undergraduate commencement. “As a Saint Leo alumna, I practice the core values in every aspect of my life, both personal and professional. I love to spread the word about our amazing university, and I love to share the positive experiences I had as a student.”
Rebecca McDearmon ’08 is a program lead for Southwest Airlines in the training department of SWA University in Dallas, TX. She trains company employees in customer relations/rapid rewards, second-tier customer support, and other specialty training. McDearmon’s work has been recognized throughout the organization, and she has received numerous company awards for the training programs she has led. She regularly volunteers at charitable organizations such as Goodwill Industries, Meals on Wheels, Ronald McDonald House, and the Salvation Army. McDearmon’s favorite Saint Leo memory is freshman orientation. Even though she was nervous, she was more excited to meet new friends and navigate the course of her future. “Being a Saint Leo alumna means being part of a community rather than just attending a college. The friends you make while at Saint Leo will be yours for life.”
Jessica O’Keefe ’10, MBA ’12 is an associate director of Client Management in Transaction Banking at Standard Chartered Bank in New York, NY. During her 5+ years with the company, she has earned multiple excellence awards for her leadership of the bank’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, including “Most Progress” and “Excellence for Gender Inclusion.” She climbed Mount Kenya for the bank’s charitable initiative “Seeing Is Believing,” raising more than $20,000 for children’s cataract surgery in India. She is also a catechism teacher for the Narnia Clubs in New York City, tutoring young students who are preparing to receive their Holy Confirmation. Her fondest memory of her time at Saint Leo was partaking in the annual spring break SERVE trips.