Like many of the alumni profiled in this magazine, I have learned that hard work, sacrifice, and a commitment toward serving others can make dreams possible.
I grew up as the oldest of six children in a multiracial, Catholic family. My father served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and my mother ran our household, raising my brothers, sisters, and me as we moved from one military base to the next. Money was always tight, but my parents instilled in me the importance of a strong work ethic, family, and faith.
While my parents could offer no financial support, I had a dream of going to college and becoming a physician, making me the third of 30 cousins in my extended family to pursue an education beyond high school. I worked several jobs while I earned two degrees (biology and psychology) from Virginia Commonwealth University. My jobs included serving as a work-study student in the biology lab during my freshmen and sophomore years; serving as a resident assistant during my junior and senior years; and then working three jobs during my fifth year of college, which I took to complete my second major.
While these were challenging times for me, I can now see by looking back that they helped shape my character and were essential to my personal and professional growth. Eventually, because of my work ethic and willingness to serve others, I was presented with opportunities that launched my career in higher education.
In this issue of Spirit Magazine, we profile the stories of fellow dreamers — those who have a vision for a better life and have done the hard work to achieve it.
You’ll read the stories of alumni who faced challenging upbringings, encountered adversity, and overcame odds to achieve their goals. You’ll also find stories about the growth of the university’s Honors Program and our new bachelor’s degree in nursing. These programs are helping to build well-rounded college graduates and solve our world’s problems.
One of the reasons I was excited about the opportunity to serve as Saint Leo University’s 11th president is because of the character and commitment of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff. The university is home to so many who dream big and are working toward creating a better world and a better way of life. They are not only inspiring to be around, but they also are the reason why Saint Leo University will always have a special place in my heart.
May God bless you, and may you always keep dreaming of greater things.
Ed Dadez, Ph.D.