Air Force


Tribute to a Friend

A group of men’s soccer alumni and former staff paid tribute to former teammate Jules Verdin during Senior Day ceremonies, prior to the final home game of the 2017 season on October 25, 2017, against the University of Tampa. Verdin, the 2014 Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year who passed away in July 2015, would have been a senior. Honoring him with the tribute were (left to right) Coach Emmanuel D. Mulowayi, Bafou Sanogo, Chris Madden, Vincent Wiskowski, Bo Barry, Franck Bayebanen, Mike Painter, Davis Hall, Jorge Braham, Andy Garcia, Brandon Rivera, and Henry Adu.


Marie Coors ’17 Earns National Award

Former Saint Leo women’s golfer, Marie Coors ’17 (pictured with Athletic Director Francis X. Reidy) was honored with the NCAA Today’s Top 10 Award at the NCAA Honors Celebration on January 17 in Indianapolis, IN. In competition for the Lions, Coors won the 2017 NCAA Division II women’s golf individual national title. She was also named the 2016-2017 Sunshine State Conference Golfer of the Year, Women’s Female Athlete of the Year, and Woman of the Year, among many other accolades. She graduated with a 4.0 grade average, rounded.


Women’s Cross Country Claims NCAA South Region Crown

In November, the Saint Leo women’s cross country team turned in a dominating performance befitting its veteran lineup and captured the program’s first NCAA South Region title. In addition, Colett Rampf captured her third straight NCAA South Region individual crown, crossing the finish line in 20:49.14, a full 52 seconds ahead of the second-place runner. Rampf (at far left) was also named Sunshine State Conference Runner of the Year and came in eighth at the NCAA D II cross country national championship.


Love Match

Saint Leo’s tennis teams volunteered at Love One Another at the Pasco County Community Services Nutrition Center in Dade City, FL, on Sunday, November 12. Love One Another is an outreach ministry that serves a hot meal to those in need every Sunday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Clothing, toiletry items, and dog and cat food for pets are also distributed. Saint Leo’s men’s and women’s tennis teams served meals.


Saint Leo’s Own Beastmaster

In Season One, Episode Nine, of Netflix’s Ultimate Beastmaster, Ken Corigliano ’06 did his nation proud by winning the competition against 11 others and being named “Beastmaster.” After giving his all, Corigliano placed fourth in the finale for Ultimate Beastmaster.

“As one of the top four, I bested 104 athletes including five other show winners,” the U.S. Air Force major  explained. “These athletes were pros, medalists, or they owned gyms. I used what I learned from my time as a Saint Leo athlete to compete against the world’s greatest.”

Corigliano ran cross country for the Lions. He was also chosen to represent the SSC as a member of the NCAA Division II 40th Anniversary Tribute Team in 2013. Corigliano noted that he initially

failed his fitness test at Saint Leo. What a transformation!


Leslie Sukup ’07, ’11, ’17 is special for many reasons, and here is just one example: She is the first person to earn a bachelor’s, a master’s, and a doctoral degree from Saint Leo University.

Years ago, when Sukup was on active duty with the U.S. Air Force, she wanted to pursue her education. However, every time she moved—which was every two or three years—she would lose credits. Then she discovered Saint Leo. Online education was a fairly new phenomenon, and Saint Leo’s program gave her the flexibility she needed. Even when she was deployed, she “could get access to a computer and keep up with my schoolwork,” she said.

Sukup was amazed that even as an online student, she received personal attention from the faculty. “I loved the experience and loved how I was treated—like everyone else who had been on campus for four years.”

When it came time to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, Sukup happened to be stationed in Washington, DC, at the Pentagon. When offered the chance to come to University Campus to walk for commencement she jumped at the opportunity. Sukup was impressed with how the university treated online students for the commencement activities.

Sukup then went on to earn her Master of Business Administration (MBA). As she took classes, the knowledge she was gaining helped her with her job in the Air Force. In that role, she worked in knowledge management, handling information (both paper and digital), network security, and secure network administration.

She has vivid memories of notable deployments. For instance, soon after the attacks on September 11, 2001, she was deployed to Guam. She spent a few months there at a refueling station, supporting bombers that were headed to Afghanistan. While deployed to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, she took advantage of that location and proudly walked across the commencement stage at University Campus with her MBA. At another point, she was assigned to the Pentagon and spent four years in presidential flight support. Working with the Department of Defense “was eye-opening, and I was on call 24/7.”

Sukup finished her MBA in 2011 and applied for the Doctor of Business Administration program the following year. At that time she was still on active duty, but she always wanted to earn her doctorate. Saint Leo University’s DBA program had just launched, and she knew it was perfect for her.

According to Sukup, the DBA program in management is rigorous, and it “absolutely prepared me to be a professor. The dissertation process, doing research—all that gave me a unique aspect into teaching. I focused on resilience and grit.”

Sukup walked across the commencement stage again on April 29, 2017, as part of the first group of students to earn DBAs from Saint Leo.

In September 2017, after 25 years of service, she retired from the U.S. Air Force, and today she is an assistant professor of management at Ferris State University (MI), teaching organizational behavior and operations management.

“Going into teaching was a lifelong dream for me, a goal since high school,” Sukup said. “I love seeing the lightbulbs come on with students. It’s very rewarding.”

“From day one, Leslie was a model doctoral student,” said Dr. Russell Clayton, assistant professor of management. “Earning a doctorate requires a different mindset than pursuing an MBA, and Leslie definitely figured out quickly how to think like a doctoral student. This showed in everything she did in the DBA program from coursework to her dissertation. I’m happy that she has joined higher education and will be sharing her knowledge with the next generation.”

When she is not teaching class, she spends time with her family: husband, Steven, and two daughters, Sky (age 3) and Sage (age 1). Thinking back to juggling work and school, she explained with a laugh that she learned she was expecting Sky just as she started the DBA program. Then she learned she was expecting Sage just as she started her dissertation.

Her life is full and busy, but what’s next? “I’m a lifelong learner,” Sukup said. “There is always something out there for me to learn and help me be better.”

For many Americans, the mention of U.S. Civil War studies brings to mind names of battles and generals, or stirs memories of Lincoln’s speeches. But a Saint Leo University senior and budding historian has earned recognition for a different study, a work of social history that examines the lives and torments of everyday women who lived through America’s war with itself.

Samantha Tyler, a University Campus student, presented findings from her senior thesis “From the Ground Up: Women of the Civil War” in a national meeting. She traveled to New Orleans in January to make a presentation at the Phi Alpha Theta (national honor society) convention for historians. It was the first time a Saint Leo student had done so. A scheduling conflict prevented her from also appearing at the Florida Conference of Historians to deliver her presentation on lesser-known perspectives on the war.

Tyler’s work does discuss the influence of the famed author Harriet Beecher Stowe and the fiery words of African-American leader Sojourner Truth. But the famous women appear in Tyler’s work within the broader context of understanding the emotions and attitudes of everyday Northern women, Southern white women, and former slaves and freed African-American women. Tyler combed women’s letters, journals, and other personal writings—in addition to Stowe’s best-selling book Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Truth’s famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech—to reach her conclusions. “The stories that those diaries and personal papers provide help us see that the simplistic views of women that dominated the antebellum era, and that have been repeated by historians since, do not tell the whole story,” Tyler’s introduction states.

For instance, the papers she found revealed to her much more starkly the actual brutality of slavery than did more widely published works she had read, Tyler said. She found white women in the South who developed a personal hatred of the opposing side, arising from the battles that took place in their towns and fields, the seizure of land, livestock, and homes by the Union Army, and the widespread destruction ordered by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman. Meanwhile, Northerners who were more distant from battlefields were not affected in the same way, physically, or as deeply emotionally in their feelings toward Confederate troops, Tyler observed. But Northerners who went to the conflict as nurses—if they came from the middle class or more prosperous backgrounds—might actually be criticized by family members for venturing beyond the social norms of the day, rather than earning heightened respect from their relations for their bravery, compassion, or sense of duty. Common to all the women, Tyler said, was the deep fear that the men closest to them would be killed or maimed by the war.

This vein of American history is incredibly rich, Tyler decided, though it has not been studied much. Tyler’s conference presentations partly address the void, while also pointing toward her hopes for the future.

Tyler so loves “learning about our world and American history” that she will make history and teaching her career. She has always enjoyed the support of her parents in her endeavors; her dad, in fact, is an Air Force veteran who involved the young Samantha in military history long before she ever thought of history as a possible college major. Tyler hopes to secure a high-school teaching position in Florida after her graduation this spring; she plans also to earn a master’s degree in American history through an online program at Fort Hays State University in Kansas. Eventually, Tyler, said, she would like to teach at the college level.

The program emerged from community outreach done by the late Kurt Van Wilt, a longtime professor of English at Saint Leo University Campus. Dr. Wilt recognized the need for programs that supported local writers throughout Pasco County and the greater Tampa Bay area. The original program design was done by Gianna Russo, assistant professor of English and creative writing, who also included a unique focus for war literature. Dr. Steve Kistulentz was hired in 2015 to be the program’s founding director and administrator and fulfill Dr. Wilt’s vision.

Inspiring-Talent-2The first cohort began in July 2016 with a weeklong inaugural residency held at University Campus. Students come to university campus for an intensive week of study each summer, then return home to do the bulk of their work. The low-residency degree requires 36 graduate credit hours taken over the course of four semesters and two summer residencies; at the third and final residency, students submit a master’s thesis, a book-length collection of creative work in their chosen genre of study. Saint Leo offers tracks of study in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.

“Everyone has a story to tell, whether it’s a deeply imagined one, or a family story that they would like to preserve for children and grandchildren. The low-residency model gives students the tools to tell those stories without neglecting their existing commitments to family, work, and community,” said Dr. Kistulentz.

One of the benefits of the program is the diversity of its students, an observation made by Dawn Sandoe-Henshaw, a member of the inaugural cohort, discussing a student population that ranges from recent college graduates to students well into retirement age. “We draw students from all walks of life, and from all areas of the country,” Dr. Kistulentz agreed.

Creative writing_upcoming guest author for 2018 Adam Johnson (1)The weeklong summer residencies also bring luminaries in the creative fields to University Campus for intimate workshops and discussions. The July 2018 roster of visiting writers is headed by award-winning author Adam Johnson (at right), whose book Fortune Smiles won the 2015 National Book Award; his 2012 novel The Orphan Master’s Son, a fictional account of the personal and political in North Korea, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Poet and memoirist Beth Ann Fennelly, poet Carmen Gimenez Smith, and novelist Tom Franklin also will be featured visitors.

The program design jointly examines the relationship between the knowledge of literature and its creation. Students pursue two courses each summer, one doing the intensive reading of a graduate program in literature while another focuses on the student’s own creative work in fiction, poetry, or narrative nonfiction.

Perhaps the most unique quality of the master’s program is its optional track of study in war literature, and writing by and for veterans of the armed services. The program builds on the long-standing relationship between Saint Leo and the armed services; nearly one-fifth of the students currently enrolled in the creative writing program are veterans or remain on active duty. Students learn the fundamentals of writing alongside strategies for putting their writing skills to work, regardless of their career paths. Current students in the program include Army officers, career Marines, and recently separated veterans of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Writing about their experience is not the only factor that drives those students with previous military service. Said student Jennifer Holt, who serves in the U.S. Marine Corps, “I want to spend my time on something that enriches my life and allows me to explore my creative side.” Student Jennifer Harman, a Navy veteran, agreed: “Regardless of industry, good writing is a skill that not everyone possesses, so I could use my master’s in whatever path I took.”

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Focus on Faculty 

The year 2018 will see not only the graduation of the master’s program’s inaugural cohort, but also the release of several new books by creative writing program faculty.

Creative-Writing-photo_book-cover-1Program director Steve Kistulentz, associate professor of English and creative writing, is the author of two previous books of poetry, but this spring releases his debut novel Panorama, published in March by Little, Brown & Company. Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, calls Panorama “a remarkable literary work, rare in its ability to be both thematically complex and a compelling read. Steve Kistulentz remarkably transforms our TV culture’s participatory tragedy into a deep meditation on human connectedness. This is a stunning debut by an important new writer.”
Creative writing book cover 2Poet Anne Barngrover joined the Saint Leo faculty in 2017 and will also release a new book this spring, the poetry collection Brazen Creature, an editor’s choice selection in the University of Akron Press Series in Poetry. Erin Belieu, an award-winning poet and director of the graduate creative writing program at Florida State University, called Brazen Creature, “a terrific collection by a strong, smart, feminist voice.”
bookcoverFiction writer Patrick Crerand will have his debut collection of stories, The Paper Life They Lead, published in 2018 by Arc Pair Press. The book will collect some of Crerand’s noteworthy stories, which have previously appeared in such magazines as McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Conjunctions, New Orleans Review, Ninth Letter, Indiana Review, and Cimarron Review.

In addition, nonfiction writer Brooke King ’12 will have her memoir Full Battle Rattle published by the Potomac Books imprint of the University of Nebraska Press. King has written about her experiences in combat for a number of magazines, including The Atlantic and War, Literature and the Arts.

Header photo: (Left to right) Steve Kistulentz, Anne Barngrover, Brooke King ’12, Gianna Russo, and Patrick Crerand. Russo, a published poet who teaches at the undergraduate level, designed the graduate program.

Bill Shelden’s employment brings him to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, a place known historically for space exploration missions, and now more for rocket launches. Shelden, an Air Force veteran of 24 years’ service, continues as a civilian employee for the Air Force, working around technology and hardware.

Yet that is only one dimension of his work life on this coastal outcropping.

Shelden tends spiritually to the population laboring nearby at Port Canaveral (pictured below). They are people who work for luxury cruise ships, on maritime cargo vessels, in port operations, and sometimes for the U.S. Coast Guard at this deep-water berth. Their jobs are essential, not glitzy. Their means are few. They can be isolated from families, from houses of worship, and may be oceans away from their homelands. To these souls, Shelden (MA ’15, theology) is Deacon Bill.


He is part of the team at Space Coast Seafarers Ministry, a non-denominational Christian ministry that provides spiritual nourishment and many practical resources to an underserved population. Often, Deacon Shelden leads people in prayer either in groups or individually; he generally reads some Scripture and then provides reflection.

The encounters can be much more informal, just him and a person from the port. “The one-on-one interaction can be powerful as well. We pray together, talk, shoot a game of pool, I even help them fill out job applications or prepare for interviews,” he says.

If circumstances permit, Shelden would like soon to begin offering specifically Catholic services through his role with a professional Catholic association called Apostleship of the Sea. (Catholic Charities of Central Florida is helping this effort by seeking space at the port where Catholic services could take place.)  As an ordained permanent deacon, Shelden can fulfill many functions important to Catholics. A permanent deacon may assist a priest during Mass (a priest is required to preside), conduct baptisms, be a witness to marriages, and lead wakes or funeral services so long as Masses are not involved.

Often, though, a lay public that is not accustomed to spending time with deacons can get caught up in formal particulars of the office and miss an essential aspect of this calling. And that is the way deacons can serve the Church by offering a compassionate presence in the secular world, beyond the confines and routines of their own parishes and neighborhoods.

As Shelden explains about his work at the port, “It is a chance to meet and interact with people who don’t have a spiritual home. My heart goes out to these people who work on ships. They don’t have a family, some of them.”

He is touched also by the young people he meets serving in the Coast Guard and carrying weighty responsibilities. “A lot of them are between 18 and 25,” says Shelden, who is 55. “They go out on law enforcement actions and they see things that would scare an older person.”

Shelden is quick to point out that he is not a certified counselor. His identity as defined by the Church is that of a faithful, caring servant, and he brings an appropriate demeanor to the mission. “I just try to be as authentic as I can. My wife [Wendy] says people gravitate toward me because I am natural and accepting.”

No doubt, those qualities would help make a faithful Catholic man a possible candidate for the diaconate, as the Catholic religious order of deacons is sometimes called.

There is much more required, though, to become a permanent Catholic deacon, and depending on the diocese, the process can take five or six years. (Men who are on the road to priesthood in the Catholic Church are ordained as transitional deacons.) Ordaining married men as permanent deacons is widely accepted, and the couples are generally expected to enter the formation process together. This involves years of spiritual discernment and reflection for the couples, with each member praying and thinking deeply about their own and their family’s relationship with God.

A deacon candidate must develop pastoral skills during the period, too.

For instance, Shelden served in the prison ministry at his county jail for a year. Inmates awaiting trial or serving sentences of one year or less could request individual pastoral services (as well as attend service or Bible study). Shelden still recalls visiting inmates and listening to their stories, and inviting them into prayer about their situations. “What they have been through is so disheartening,” Shelden says. “These are people who have a lot of problems but don’t have any avenue for getting things fixed.”

The training of deacons further includes an academic element so that they have the theological grounding they will need in their service. It is up to each diocese to determine how this will be done. Saint Leo University offers the Master of Arts in theology program to several dioceses in Florida and in some other states for this purpose. (While the MA is typically offered online, dioceses that enroll their deacon-candidate groups with Saint Leo are provided with classes taught at their sites by a faculty member.)

Candidates must complete the 36-credit-hour graduate program before they can be ordained. So far, 250 men in diaconal formation have completed the MA, and 140 more are enrolled.

As rigorous as that is, upon ordination into the clergy, permanent deacons may find life opening up to even more new and unexpected ways to walk in the spirit of Christ. Catholic permanent deacons are expected to be deacons all the time, so, at his paying job at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Shelden is expected to carry out his duties and work with colleagues in a manner reflective of his relationship with God. At his parish, he and fellow deacons sometimes fulfill other specific tasks at the request of the parish priest, such as delivering the homily (sermon) during Mass, or assisting with added Masses for holidays.

Life unfolds. Deacons are asked to help, or find themselves equipped and in positions to help. “That’s part of the excitement of living a life in service to Christ.”


Writing and communication have figured into many aspects of Frank Cumberland’s life. Cumberland ’80 studied at Saint Leo’s Langley Air Force Base Education Office and earned his bachelor’s degree in human resources management and sociology while he was serving in the Air Force. He retired as a colonel after 24 years.

“The Saint Leo people were so helpful,” he said of his first visit to the education office. “I was amazed at how quickly I could get started and the variety of offerings.”

He also appreciated Saint Leo’s emphasis on writing. His family—especially his mother—nurtured his love of literature, and that continued in his education at the university and throughout his career.

Cumberland served in the Air Force Medical Service Corps, and also worked as a health professions recruiter for Air Force Recruiting Service. “My team recruited physicians, dentists, health administrators, and allied health professionals,” he said. “Recruiting was a true challenge, and I learned a lot from the experience.”


Frank Cumberland and his “pop” at his Saint Leo commencement in 1980.

In 1998, the Department of Defense established the TRICARE Management Activity to manage its health program for 10 million beneficiaries worldwide. A director of communications was needed to tell the TRICARE story, and Cumberland was chosen for the job.

He retired in 2017 as senior vice president for Communications, Marketing, and Business Development for Axiom. In that role, he led the firm’s proposal-writing team for 15 years.

Besides writing, another passion of Cumberland’s is baseball. The self-proclaimed “Mayor of Nats Town,” Cumberland was a strong supporter of the effort to bring baseball back to Washington, DC. He penned many columns, letters to the editor, and other materials advocating for baseball’s return to his hometown. The effort bore fruit when the Washington Nationals played their first home game in Washington in April 2005.

Hope-Comes-Home-2-(1)Cumberland was a contributor to the Nationals’ yearbook in 2015. In “Hope Comes Home: A Decade of Baseball in Washington” he writes, “It is a special thing to see your dreams come true, and to see your fondest hopes turn into reality. To me, the first decade of the Nationals has been like an unfolding miracle—for the morale of our hometown, the winning ways of our team and the everyday spirit of Nats Nation.”

He is a member of the President’s Council at Saint Leo, and a member of the Board of Governors of the National Military Family Association. He is married to Lori, father to Emily, Luke, and Tom, father-in-law to Dustin, and grandfather to Logan. He continues to write freelance stories and articles and is working on a book on the lessons of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Cumberland notes that he really should be a writer, as he is named after St. Francis de Sales, the “patron saint of teachers and authors.”

Header photo: Colonel Frank Cumberland at his desk at TRICARE Management Activity.