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Minghe LiMinghe Li is an industrious new graduate of the Donald R. Tapia School of Business. The 22-year-old pursued a dual major in accounting and economics and, in a logical progression, landed a good position right away in Tampa, working for accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.

No surprises there.

It’s his hometown that’s the attention grabber: Baotou, a large industrial and mining city in Inner Mongolia, China. The city of more than 2 million is recognized mainly for its supply of earth minerals.

Few other alumni have come to Saint Leo’s University Campus from schools in Inner Mongolia. But trends are shifting, and Li is a young man with a personality suited to discovery. He has come of age in an era when more Chinese families are able to afford to send children abroad to look at educational opportunities. More than 304,000 international students in the United States are from China, according to the Institute of International Education, and account for more than 31 percent of the international students in this country. In fact, China has produced more international students in American colleges than any other nation.

Li recalls his interest in overseas travel being stirred during his teen years, when he was able to visit London for a few weeks. He just kept thinking about what more there is to see in the world. Curiosity inspired him to seek his father’s permission to study abroad during high school.

At first Li tried Wisconsin, and then transferred to Melbourne Central Catholic High School in Florida. It proved to be a wonderful decision. The family of Timothy and Rosemary Laird wanted to host an international student attending the school, and Li proved to be the perfect match. He made a connection with both the parents and the Laird children—attending Mass with them, traveling with them on vacations—and considers them his “American family.”

Missie Valencia, director of the international student program at Melbourne Central Catholic, still recalls Li’s arrival in South Florida with other students on a long-delayed flight. Even though it was late at night by the time the plane finally landed, when Li exited the plane, he was so excited he hugged everyone in the group meeting the students at the airport. And he stayed true to that excited, joyful personality throughout his time at the school, she says, taking part in school social activities and shattering the stereotype that all Asian students are introverts who rarely speak. To the contrary, Li encouraged conversation, and adopted the American nickname of Scofield, based on a character on a cable TV show. The character’s personality, he explained to Valencia, is much his own, and the name would be easier for his new classmates to pronounce. Meanwhile, he impressed the adults with his thoughtfulness and willingness to work hard to improve his command of academic English and perform well in his courses.

Li loved Florida, Timothy Laird recalls, so much so that he decided to stay for college. Several people at Melbourne Central Catholic recommended that he visit Saint Leo University, and Li was accepted.

It was not just the Florida climate that attracted Li. He dreams someday of running a business in China that will be beneficial for society, and he thought an American business education would give him a vantage point on markets and commerce that Chinese society cannot yet provide. “China is developing its business structure, its economy. The United States has already developed its structure,” he said.

Minghe Li
Minghe celebrates his graduation day with his American family and fiancée, Ayaka.

He applied himself diligently at Saint Leo, learning how commerce is conducted in the West, and even became a tutor for other students in economics and accounting courses. Tapia School faculty helped Li decide to make those two disciplines his majors, and he is particularly grateful to Dr. Passard Dean of the accounting faculty for his guidance in the matter. Li and Dr. Dean had discussions about the ways that both accounting and economics can be applied and understood internationally, and how accounting credentials would allow Li to pursue positions abroad after he gains more experience. That, in turn, can move him closer to his eventual goal of making a contribution to the world of business in China.

Another benefit for Li at Saint Leo: He met his future wife, Ayaka Morita ’15, originally from Tokyo. By the time this magazine is printed, they will be married.

“Saint Leo University not only provided me the best education, but has also helped me to find my other half I can spend the rest of my life with,” he said. “I hope with this story, I will inspire more young people like me to pursue their dreams!”

 

Crops grow faster in Alaska than in other parts of the United States, Gena (Chiriboga) Grobarek ’07 explained. And why is that? Because during the growing season, the sun can be out more than 18 hours a day. This is just one reason why Gena and her family are thriving as farmers in Homer, AK.

The daughter of a Peace Corps volunteer who met her husband in Ecuador, Gena grew up in a bilingual household. She spent most of her childhood in Oregon but moved to Florida with her family while she was in high school. Like her two sisters, Gena enrolled at Saint Leo University. She majored in biology with an environmental sciences concentration, a program that seemed tailored to her strengths and interests. She also learned a great deal from Dr. Chris Miller, professor of biology and ecology. Under his guidance, she participated in student trips to Peru and the Galápagos Islands, and she always seemed ready for adventure.

“She had a confidence about her,” Dr. Miller remembers. “She would go and do stuff, just to try it out. She didn’t fret much.”

With Dr. Miller’s assistance, she landed an internship with an environmental consultant in Tampa. That position morphed into a full-time job that she held for about a year after graduation.

Gena and family
Brent and Gena with children Alice, Emil, and Oliver (baby Irah was on the way)

While she was fond of Florida, she had never been a fan of the heat and humidity, so when she learned of an opening for a fish biologist in the Bering Sea, she leapt at the chance. While in that role, she worked on some of the boats featured in the TV documentary series The Deadliest Catch. She also met her husband, Brent. Their next stop was moving to Petersburg, AK, and working for the U.S. Forest Service. She enjoyed mapping streams and “getting paid to hike in the woods.”

As much as they liked Petersburg, the island location can only be reached by plane or ferry. So Gena and Brent decided to move to Homer, AK, on the mainland. They bought property and spent a summer living in a wall tent while they built their home. Those were lean times, which required “living on mac and cheese.” As they settled in to life in Homer, they “fell in love with the community.” They started a family, which includes four children: Oliver (age 5), Emil (4), Alice (2), and Irah (born on June 21, 2016). They also began supporting many local causes, especially those related to conserving the environment.

Farmers market
At the local farmers market

Before long, Gena and Brent cleared some of their land for agricultural use, quit their jobs, and became full-time independent farmers. Today, they grow a variety of crops, including salad greens, carrots, onions, peppers, eggplant, beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, corn, and broccoli. In addition to feeding their own family, they sell the crops to other families through 25 Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes during the summer and operate a farm-to-table booth at a farmers market. They also raise chickens, selling free-range eggs at two local stores, and raise goats for milk. Through it all, they have learned about crop rotation, how to protect the water, and how to keep the soil fertile—which can be in stark contrast to the big commercial farms in other parts of the United States. They also “don’t spray with anything,” avoiding pesticides and herbicides.

“Organic farming is more labor-intensive,” Gena observed. “But it is viable. Our efforts help the local economy, and sustainability is really important to us.”

She also explains that she and her husband have extended their growing season through November, thanks to high tunnels, which are like unheated greenhouses. They start planting soon after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, so even in Alaska there is very little downtime for a farmer.

“There is so much more to Alaska than oil, mining, and gas,” Gena said. “For instance, did you know that carrots grown in Alaska are sweeter than they are from other places? It’s because of the cold weather.”

Vegetables
Farm-fresh produce

She and Brent are active in their community, and they connect with other farmers via social media. Gena is a supervisor on the board of the Homer Soil and Water Conservation District. Soil and water conservation districts are local units of government that develop, manage, and direct natural resource programs at the local level. They work with private landowners to help them learn about and manage their lands and waters, whether for forestry, agriculture, recreation, or other uses, which Gena says is key to economic sustainability and local quality of life. In addition, they are advocates for the younger generation. “Traditional farming is an art form,” Gena stated. “We want to help young people in Homer learn about it and find a purpose.”

“Gena was always asking questions,” Dr. Miller says. “And I can see her wanting to pass along that curiosity to kids. She had a sense of wanting to do the right thing. She is definitely a student I’ll remember till the day I die.”

The Grobareks can attribute their current success to a number of factors: low overhead, no debt, and being minimalist, instead of materialistic. “Dr. Miller was a wonderful mentor in that regard,” Gena said. “The things I learned from him are still with me today. He made me conscious that individuals can make an impact. If everyone cared, things would be different.”

Gena believes that her Saint Leo experience played a huge role in her life goals: “Self-sufficiency, respect for our planet Earth, and finding a better, healthier, more ecologically friendly way of life. We are part of the local food movement taking place in the United States, encouraging our local community to know where their food came from and how it was created.” She believes that another road would have taken her elsewhere, but she is happy with her choices. “I’ve worked for government and state agencies, as well as private firms, but many jobs are morally sketchy. I’ve never been happier than I am now.”


Sister Act

Gena (Chiriboga) Grobarek’s sisters, both Saint Leo alumnae, are also doing amazing work around the world. Maria Victoria Chiriboga ’05 is the undersecretary of Climate Change for the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador, and Maria Mercedes Chiriboga ’03 is a Montessori teacher in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

Growing up in Belgium, Emmanuel Diyoka Mulowayi loved playing basketball. Part of a big family from the Democratic Republic of Congo, he also developed a strong faith and a commitment to helping other people. “My mom is the one who introduced me to Christ and to the love of people,” he said. “She is a woman of great values who always pushed me to keep my eyes on Christ and pursue my dreams.” Now as a graduate student at Saint Leo, he is able to cultivate all those parts of his life at once.

He came to Saint Leo based on advice from his friends Nick Catt and Benjamin Dupont ’10, but he has made his experience his own. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies in 2015 and is pursuing an MBA with a project management specialization. A former semiprofessional basketball player in his home country, he lends his talent to the Saint Leo Lions as an assistant basketball coach—for the women’s team in 2015-2016 and this year for the men’s team.

“Emmanuel is one of the most humble young men I’ve ever met,” said Men’s Basketball Head Coach Vince Alexander. “He demonstrates the core values of Saint Leo and is a representative of our institution wherever he goes.”

In addition, Mulowayi is a graduate assistant in the University Ministry office. “It is beautiful to see students give their life to Christ,” he explained.

In 2013, he took on an internship in Congo. He worked with rape victims in Kivu, a region of war. That experience “opened my eyes,” he said. “I realized how fortunate I was to grow up in Belgium and get an education in America.”

Mulowayi notes that being a student at Saint Leo has given him the confidence to pursue his goals, which include one day working with an international organization to provide assistance to young people in Africa. He hopes to help them build skills and develop opportunities to play basketball or other sports in high school and college in America. “I hope that through sport I can impact and help kids in Congo to become the future of the country.”

Raisa Alstodt ’16

During the Spring 2015 semester, I took a leap and did the Semester at Sea study abroad program. I’m so blessed to have had this opportunity and unbelievably grateful for the people I met and the things I got to experience. I saw 12 countries spanning Asia, Africa, and Europe in under four months while traveling on a ship. And while my bucket list now has lots of things crossed off, it has only grown longer. This program has gotten me even more excited to travel the world and experience all there is out there. While on the trip, I kept a blog, and what follows is one of my entries.


Ubuntu is a term I learned on the ship back in January on the way to South Africa.

I’ve come to realize that life is a constant obstacle course. Many things can change in very little time. People come and go. A word that meant nothing to you six months ago could now mean everything to you. Change and growth can occur. The shock is when you look back and actually notice all of this. South Africa was this shock for me.

ubuntu-tattooHow did a word foreign to me just four months ago come to mean so much? It’s a short word, though with a multitude of meaning. It’s a philosophy. It’s a way of life even.

The word is defined as an African philosophy roughly translated to “human kindness.” It literally means human-ness, often translated as “humanity toward others.” Even used in a more philosophical sense, meaning “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connect all of humanity.” Another definition: “I am what I am because of who we all are.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu says a person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened by what others have, believing that we belong to a greater whole. It’s the essence of being human. Those who have ubuntu are known for their generosity.

In short, it’s about human kindness, about respect. Some define it as community. Some would even say it’s humanity; it’s the belief that all are equal. Some would add religion. Some see it as humankind seeing no color. Peace for all people. Acceptance of all. Understanding for all. It’s having virtue. Kindness for all. Goodness. It’s what Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu asked the people of South Africa to believe in, yet it’s all over Africa. In Kenya, they have the word, too, just said differently. This word just keeps growing on me and gaining value in my life.

Each person I’ve met has defined it just a tad bit differently. To everyone it means the same things, just reworded in personal words. To me it’s humanity, love, and so much more. It’s a philosophy to love and be loved. It’s God’s work fostered in a word. It’s hope for people.

On the ship, they’ve asked us to think about it in our travel. To me it seemed as though they were asking me to adopt the philosophy in my travel, and so I’ve tried. To me it became a travel philosophy and so much more. In return, I made it a permanent addition to my life.


For more images from Saint Leo’s international trips, visit spirit.saintleo.edu/travel.

Bill EldersBill Elders ’16

The Saint Leo University-sponsored trip to Israel was billed as the “trip of a lifetime,” and it did not disappoint. Students and others from Saint Leo locations across the United States signed up for this exciting adventure.

Our questions were many. Is Israel going to be a land of instability, which is so often portrayed in news media outlets, or is it the land that flows with “milk and honey” as the Bible describes? Will the Israeli people be open and accepting of those visiting from the United States, or will they be cautious and defensive? After all, with the number of terrorist threats in our world today and those specifically aimed at Israel, do they not have every right to be concerned when foreigners visit their land? How do the Israeli people deal with the ever-present threats around them and still maintain a positive, forward-thinking mind-set?

These are just some of the questions that came to mind to those embarking on this “Road to Israel.”

Saint Leo criminal justice instructor Bobby Sullivan and special projects administrator Karin May teamed with Henry Morgenstern from Security Solutions International to provide a first-class look into Israel’s ability to protect its citizens and infrastructure from terrorist threats. It is a monumental task that has to be done every day without fail and demands highly trained military, law enforcement, first responders, school personnel, and citizenry.

This trip began with anticipation and concern from each student about going to a land where witnessing explosions is probable. Loved ones and friends voiced their concern regarding the dangers. Nonetheless, we set out to learn and experience Israel, the country many of us had heard about in Bible studies and which has developed as a nation during the last 68 years.

As we sat for dinner the first night in Tel Aviv, we learned of events that forever changed the lives of area residents. In April 2003, local sports bar Mike’s Place was the scene of a horrific suicide bombing, which left three persons dead. If not for the quick action of a civilian security guard, Avi Tabib, many more patrons may have been killed. This event drives home the importance of everyone acting to thwart the efforts of those who would commit terrorist acts.

Our class schedule included visiting the Nahariya hospital and listening to the staff tell of its procedures to protect the lives of not only Israelis, but anyone in need of medical attention—even those who may be considered the enemy. The care, compassion, and concern for the lives of others, regardless of their differences, was something we soon realized.

We were able to meet with many experts who have extensive counter-terrorism knowledge. We met and heard from Sam Bashan, who served in the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli secret service; Elliot Chodoff, a political and military analyst who specializes in terrorism policies; Yoni Yagadovsky, the international director of Magen David Adom, which is equivalent to the American Red Cross; Avi Melamed, a former Israeli senior official on Arab affairs and an intelligence official; and Alon Wainer, who is a respected expert in security screening and detection technologies.

Each expert provided great insight into the issues of security and potential terrorist threats. We also learned about the culture and mind-set of the Israeli people, as they have endured the challenges of the past, but hold an optimistic outlook for their future.

As the class traveled from Tel Aviv to the northern borders of Israel, it was incredible to see the landscape and envision that this is the very land where Jesus lived, walked, and ministered more than 2,000 years ago. At one point, the class was able to observe explosions in not-too-distant Syria as Hezbollah and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continue to battle for dominance of the region.

We stood at the Golan Heights and visited the place where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount next to the beautiful Sea of Galilee. We visited the beautiful banks of the Jordan River where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. And we found the people warm and willing to speak to those who want to learn about their culture.

JerusalemThe class had the opportunity to visit Gaza in the south, where Israel has been attacked with rockets launched by Hamas. We visited the Port of Ashdod and learned of the security measures that protect this great facility and visited the site where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995.

We toured the Old City of Jerusalem and stood at the foot of the Western Wall. It was incredible to follow in the footsteps of Jesus as he ascended toward Golgotha to be crucified, and then visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The stories that have been told in churches over the years and recited in classrooms, news reports, and throughout history came alive for the Saint Leo class. This adventure certainly met our expectations and proved to be a “trip of a lifetime,” as each student and participant left Israel with renewed respect for its people and the country.


For more images from Saint Leo’s international trips, visit spirit.saintleo.edu/travel.

Samantha Brooks ’16

To be honest, I am not sure there are enough adjectives in the English language to describe the experience I had in Greece. The hardest part I have found is having to readjust to reality. When I signed up for this trip, I was excited; when I left for this trip, I was nervous; and when I returned from this trip, I was changed. How could I not be?

I dipped my feet in springs on Mount Olympus, I climbed the steps to the Parthenon, and actually stood in front of the tomb of Phillip II (father of Alexander the Great). These are moments I will never forget.

Preschool Kindergarten Building in Greece
If all that was not enough, as an elementary education major, I found it was a tremendous opportunity to not only visit and observe several schools, but also to actually integrate myself into their classrooms.

“Not many American teachers can say they traveled to Greece and taught in a classroom for a day. It will make me a better teacher.”

— Samantha Brooks ’16

The following observations were made during my short visit. The people of Greece are loud and vibrant. Every conversation, from child to adult, seems animated. The food is beyond fantastic, with my favorite being tzatziki, a sauce or dip used on gyros. Greek salads don’t actually contain lettuce, and fried cheese with honey is without a doubt the best dessert ever. I swear feta cheese and wine are necessary for it to be considered a real Greek dinner.

greece-trip
Everywhere you look, there is a piece of history. It seems as if every building, walkway, or ruin has an extravagant story behind it. Parking is insane. You will undoubtedly see many people double-parked everywhere. We were told that car owners will place their phone numbers on the windshield, and you need only call, and they will come and move their cars. If you receive a T-shirt for surviving a taxi ride in New York City, then you should receive a gold medal for surviving a taxi ride in Greece. Think Grand Theft Auto meets NASCAR.

I take away from this trip an overabundance of pictures, unforgettable memories, and lasting personal connections. I will never forget the people I met in Greece, nor the kindness and hospitality they showed to me and my fellow travelers.

I know that I am forever changed, not only by the culture but also by the friends with whom I have shared this once-in-a-lifetime journey. I will forever hold them dear.


For more images from Saint Leo’s international trips, visit spirit.saintleo.edu/travel.

‘‘Join the Army—See the World” boasts the well-known U.S. Army recruiting advertisement. While seeing the world certainly was a motivating factor for Captain Morgan Mander ’06 to join the military, she never expected she would visit 39 countries during a 36-month assignment in Europe.

With a love of travel instilled in her by her parents, she began an education and career that has led her to places far away from her hometown of Dade City, FL, near University Campus.

Athletic aspirations kept her close to home as she chose to attend Saint Leo University. As a Lion, she played volleyball and tennis along with a few cross country runs. In 2006, she received the Elaine Evans Spirit of Saint Leo Award at the annual National Girls and Women in Sports Banquet, honoring her outstanding leadership and sportsmanship.

Capt. Mander was not solely focused on Saint Leo athletics, however; she graduated with honors with a major in biology and a chemistry minor. Tackling athletics and a challenging academic schedule prepared her for what was ahead.

A love of animals and caring for them steered her to studying veterinary medicine. Besides the usual dogs and cats, Capt. Mander’s mother taught her how to rehabilitate orphaned squirrels, birds, and opossums. She also raised chickens and rabbits through 4-H. While in high school, she worked at the Dade City Animal Clinic.

“I probably wanted to be a vet since I was 3 or 4,” she said. “I even received a white lab coat one Christmas.”

Following her graduation from Saint Leo, she enrolled at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, where she earned the F. Edward Hébert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship. She graduated with Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public Health degrees in 2010, and entered the U.S. Army as a captain.

While in veterinary school, the travel for Capt. Mander began. For a conservation medicine course—the Envirovet Program—she spent three weeks in South Africa. “One main focus was the One Health Initiative,” she said. “Disciplines need to work together to obtain animal, human, and environmental health.”

That trip spurred her interest in global health. “An estimated 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases come from animals,” she said. “These diseases can then be transferred to humans. An interest in these relationships at their interfaces is what drove me to get my master’s in public health.”

While she unrealistically was hoping for a coastal assignment with the Army, Capt. Mander found herself at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota after completing her initial training at Fort Sam Houston, TX.

As a military veterinarian, Capt. Mander not only takes care of military working dogs, but also cares for the pets of servicemembers, while providing their owners with public health education. Also, one of the little known duties of military veterinarians is ensuring food safety and security. They check shipments of food and inspect food-processing plants.

Capt. Mander’s most recent assignment found her responsible for veterinary care in Spain and Portugal for three years. She also visited three African countries for work. “But most of the rest of my travel has been leisure travel,” she said.

Morgan Mander at Keukenhof Gardens
Capt. Morgan Mander at Keukenhof Gardens outside of Amsterdam

When her parents, Chip and Deanna Mander, came to visit her in Spain, there was no staying home. “I wanted to go see the world,” she said, laughing. The Manders made a road trip to the Balkans and cruised the Baltic Sea, among other travels. “The off-the-beaten-path places stick out in my mind,” she said of her trips.

Among her favorite travel moments are snowshoeing in Slovenia, hiking in Guatemala, and visiting the tulip gardens at Keukenhof Gardens outside of Amsterdam.

“The toughest part [of her overseas assignment] was being away from family and friends,” Capt. Mander said.

Her biggest regret: not learning the language while in Spain. “I learned mostly food words,” she said of her Spanish skills, “but my schedule was irregular and finding time for the classes was difficult.”

Her time at Saint Leo prepared her both academically and personally for her post-graduate education and career. “I especially appreciate Saint Leo’s core values of community and excellence,” she said.

As a base veterinarian, she experienced the camaraderie of the military family and put into practice the university’s core value of community. The leadership skills she learned on the gym floor and the tennis courts helped her lead soldiers during her last assignment.

Now, Capt. Mander is at Fort Campbell, KY, assigned to a Veterinary Service Support field unit. “The unit is actually currently deployed,” she said, so another trip could be in her future.

She hopes to pursue more travel opportunities and to focus on one-health issues. “I just love learning and trying to solve complex health concerns,” she said.

De Oppresso Liber, which means “Free the Oppressed,” is the motto of the Green Berets, United States Army Special Forces. Saint Leo University alumnus Brian Anderson ’14 embodies that motto.

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Anderson said he felt called to join the U.S. Army, and he entered as a photojournalist. Following a deployment to Iraq, he trained and qualified as a Green Beret. When the 7th Special Forces Group was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, Anderson, then a Special Forces engineer sergeant, came under fire quickly. On his last deployment, his first fire fight lasted eight hours and two teammates were killed, including his best friend, Calvin Harrison, and Air Force attachment Mark Forrester.

When he returned to base, he received a package from his mother. “One of the books was Intro to Social Work,” Anderson said. “I read it, and I was excited. That matched the Green Beret motto: De Oppresso Liber, Free the Oppressed.”

Anderson said what he was called to do as a warrior left him questioning his faith. After he read the social work book, he knew he wanted to pursue a degree in social work at a Catholic university. He chose Saint Leo.

Re-entry to the civilian world is difficult for most warriors, Anderson said. But through Saint Leo University and its emphasis on assisting military and veteran students, he was able to obtain his bachelor’s degree in social work. Most of his classes were at the Adult Education Center at Saint Leo’s Pasco-Hernando State College office. “I took one class at University Campus,” he said. “And that was with Dr. Jim Whitworth [now associate dean of the School of Education and Social Services], retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.”

“Saint Leo allowed me to take my skills as a Green Beret and apply them to real issues Pasco County was facing — including veteran homelessness. In my first year, we already were developing the Stand Down.”

— Brian Anderson ’14

Anderson said he was encouraged by Whitworth and all of his Saint Leo teachers. “The whole program has amazing instructors,” he said. “Saint Leo instructors allow you to grow. I pitched ideas [about social work projects] in Dr. Whitworth’s class.

“Saint Leo allowed me to take my skills as a Green Beret and apply them to real issues Pasco County was facing — including veteran homelessness. In my first year, we already were developing the Stand Down.” The Stand Down, coordinated by Anderson since 2012, is an annual event that provides homeless and at-risk veterans with needed services. Saint Leo’s social work students provide counseling at the event.

While he was helping others, Anderson realized he needed to help himself. Plagued by visions of his deceased friend Calvin as well as visions of war and violence, Anderson was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. To combat that, he first engaged in Prolonged Exposure Therapy, but what really has helped him is Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). “One session changed my life,” he said. “ART is evidence-based and can work in as little as three to five sessions.”

ART is a type of image-replacement therapy in which a person undergoes sets of eye movements while silently recalling the traumatic scene. The “bad memories” get pushed to long-term memory rather than haunting the warrior.

Anderson said he was having a particularly bad day and decided to try yoga for relief. He found a hot power yoga class at Trinity Yoga Studio, and he gained a business partner in Janel Norton, a former combat Air Force photographer, who is the studio’s owner. The two wanted to provide restorative therapies to their battle brothers and sisters, and a nonprofit business was formed, Veterans Alternative. Their motto is Turning Post Traumatic Stress into Post Traumatic Growth.

Norton and Anderson created a business plan for Veterans Alternative and pitched it to the Pasco Economic Development Council’s SMARTstart Challenge in February 2015. They claimed the prize of $5,000 startup capital, which helped them get Veterans Alternative established. Their venture gained a huge boost when Chris Sullivan, one of the founders of Outback Steakhouse and creator of the Chris T. Sullivan Foundation, became a supporter and contributor. The foundation pays all salaries for Veterans Alternative staff.

Bromance[7]

Bromance[7]
Picture 1 of 4

Anderson received a donation of the American Legion hall and property at 1750 Arcadia Road, Holiday, FL. Now Veterans Alternative serves combat veterans, military personnel who supported combat veterans, and those who suffered military sexual abuse, offering—at no cost—alternative therapies not covered at Veterans Affairs hospitals. In addition to ART, Veterans Alternative offers iRest (20 minutes of this guided meditation can equal two hours of rapid eye movement sleep), Integrative Restoration (a guided meditative yoga practice), and physical training. The Holiday site offers a contained TRX Tactical Training Locker with equipment that many military personnel are familiar with, as well as an obstacle course and swimming pool.

Yoga and Kali (Filipino martial arts) classes and other exercise sessions are offered at Veterans Alternative, as well as at community partners such as Norton’s Trinity Yoga Studio and Gulf Coast FCS Kali. While some veterans may have discounted yoga at first, Norton and Anderson said they’ve “taken the ‘Hippie’ out” of the practice and made it palatable for military personnel.

Veterans Alternative will be starting a service dog program, too. Anderson is accompanied by his therapy dog, Hero, who was trained by Patriot Service Dogs to serve those with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. Not only does he assist Anderson and calm him, Hero befriends every veteran who steps through the door of the center.

One of the most important components of Veterans Alternative is the camaraderie. Those who have served in the armed forces share a bond, and once they return to civilian life, there can be a vacuum. Every Friday, there is a 35-minute iRest session, followed by a barbecue. The center boasts a beautiful patio, with fire pit and furniture, thanks to a BB&T Lighthouse Project, offering a place where veterans can chat or chill.

In March, Veterans Alternative was presented with the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation’s Community Hero Program award. The $50,000 gift will be used by Veterans Alternative to support ongoing veterans programs. In its first year, Veterans Alternative has served 400 people.

Anderson was called to serve and has walked in the boots of his warrior brothers and sisters. Now, as part of a new calling, he helps them transition to civilian life. To learn more about Veterans Alternative, call (727) 939-VETS (8387) or visit www.VeteransAlternative.org.

Veterans Alternative in Holiday, FL, offers different therapy modalities to help combat veterans. These therapies usually are not offered through Veterans Affairs hospitals, but are clinically accredited.

Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)

Accelearated Resolution Therapy (ART) is a form of psychotherapy with roots in evidence-based therapies. ART helps people quickly, usually within one to five sessions. It is used for clients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental health issues.

ART combines some parts of traditional psychotherapies, such as talk therapy and visualization, with the use of rapid eye movements, which are similar to the ones that occur while dreaming. A trained therapist moves his or her hand from side to side in front of the client while the person follows the hand movement with his or her eyes. “We look at their specific trigger points [what is causing stress or anxiety],” said Alison Voisin, lead clinician at Veterans Alternative.

While a traumatic memory or image may be difficult or upsetting to visualize, in ART the therapist helps lead the client past that point where they may be stuck. The clinician uses a technique called voluntary image/memory replacement to change the way the negative images are stored in the brain.

“They can choose to talk about the negative image or not,” Voisin said. “The success rate for treating PTSD is amazing.”

iRest

This is a guided meditation practice offered to veterans and their families at Veterans Alternative to help relieve stress triggers that combat veterans experience. Janel Norton, co-founder and director of operations for Veterans Alternative, leads the iRest sessions. It is a form of yoga that does not use postures, but rather uses a 10-step protocol in which you lie in a comfortable position. The 35-minute practice starts with three resolutions, according to the Veterans Alternative website:

Tap into

  1. Your purpose or mission in life;
  2. Your intention, or what it is on that particular day that brings you to the practice; and
  3. Your inner resource, or that sense of well-being in a safe place where you are most happy and comfortable.

The guided meditation is “breath sensing, body sensing, and you are in a deep state of relaxation,” Norton said. “You feel like you just took a 20-minute power nap.”

One session of iRest can feel like two hours of restful sleep for participants.

Physical training

Physical therapy is an integral aspect of the program at Veterans Alternative, and it can take many forms.

Some of the activities offered are:

Yoga: Classes are offered at Veterans Alternative, as well as Trinity Yoga, which is owned by Norton, with varying levels from gentle yoga to power yoga.

TRX Tactical Training: Veterans Alternative received the first Tactical Training Locker used by a non-military organization. Usually these lockers, which are equipped with pulleys, weights, and other gear, are used for military physical training on deployments.

Kali: This Filipino Martial Art (FMA), which primarily uses a single or double rattan stick, improves coordination and concentration. Norton’s husband, Ray Norton, teaches the classes at Veterans Alternative, and classes also are offered at Gulf Coast FCS Kali in New Port Richey.

Obstacle Course: Clients can meet the challenges of an on-site obstacle course at the Holiday location of Veterans Alternative.

Swimming: Clients can swim for exercise or just to relax.

Camaraderie

One of the most important aspects of Veterans Alternative is the fellowship of the combat veterans, trauma victims, and their families. Every Friday evening, Veterans Alternative hosts a barbecue and everyone “chills” by the fire pit. In addition to meeting fellow warriors during yoga, iRest, or physical training, the Friday events give everyone a chance to mingle and form bonds.

For F. Tobias “Toby” Tedrowe ’87, the Saint Leo University Campus is a special place. His parents were both professors at Saint Leo College, he earned dual degrees in business literature and business marketing from the college, and it is where he met his future wife, Kathy (Myers) Tedrowe ’87. It is also where he spent his childhood—swimming, fishing, and sailing on Lake Jovita, running through the orange groves, and skateboarding down the hill. “I had free roam of the place and I knew all the teachers,” Toby said. “A lot of people here influenced me.”

Thaddeus William TedroweHis father, Thaddeus William Tedrowe, was a decorated World War II bomber pilot and a prisoner of war. After receiving his MBA from the University of South Florida, Thaddeus taught accounting and finance courses at Saint Leo in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and later became the head of the school’s business division. He was instrumental in making the Saint Leo military education program a reality at the Avon Park Bombing Range in 1973 and later at MacDill Air Force Base. After retiring in 1981, he regularly visited colleagues at the school and would fly his ultra-light plane into the Bowl to deliver his yearly donation (pictured above).

Toby’s mother, Dorothea ’73, a survivor of Nazi Germany, was the first German Jew to work as an interpreter for the Americans after the war. She arrived in Tampa in 1955 and helped establish the library at MacDill, where she later met her husband. She taught in private schools and eventually needed a higher education degree so she decided to attend Saint Leo where she earned her psychology degree. Dorothea went on to work in private practice and later returned to her alma mater as an adjunct professor of psychology, eventually retiring in the late 80s due to health issues. “My mom was an incredible teacher and her students really loved her,” boasted Toby.

Thaddeus and Dorothea Tedrowe were married for 42 years until his death in 1998 at the age of 78. She died six years later in 2004 at the same age.

Toby’s parents set a good example, so it was fitting that he met Kathy at Saint Leo. The two first spotted each other on an ROTC recruitment camping trip in 1984. At the time, Toby was a 19-year-old sophomore, and Kathy, who enrolled the previous year as a biology major, was 21. At first, he says they hung out together because Kathy was a good cook. Then they started dating and spending more time with one another. They were married on August 25, 1990, three years after they graduated from Saint Leo and the same year Toby graduated from the University of Baltimore Law School. Today, Toby is corporate counsel for Good Times Cigar Company in Tampa, and Kathy, who home-schooled all three of their children, still enjoys cooking, as well as reading and spending time with their family.

The Tedrowe family connection does not end there. Toby’s brother, Thaddeus Stephen Tedrowe ’81, graduated from Saint Leo, and his brother-in-law, Patrick Myers ’94, and sister-in-law, Allison Myers ’94, are also both proud Saint Leo alumni. Toby and Kathy’s oldest child, Hannah, currently is enrolled at Saint Leo through the Center for Online Learning.

Reflecting on his military service and summarizing the Tedrowe family legacy, Thaddeus once told Toby that he wanted to focus his energies on “building things, not destroying them.” Toby explained, “He always said his greatest accomplishment was that he became a professor.”

On December 18, 2015, Saint Leo University alumnus Clarence Ervin made history when he became the first African-American promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the 67-year history of the North Carolina Air National Guard (NCANG).

Brigadier General Ervin graduated from Saint Leo with an associate degree in 1981 and a bachelor’s degree in 1983, both in business administration, from Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. He later earned a master’s degree in health administration from Pfeiffer University in North Carolina. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College.

“It means a lot to me,” he said of becoming the first African-American brigadier general for the NCANG. “But it means more to inspire those minorities coming behind me. I want to inspire others to let them know this is possible. It [the promotion] gave me the opportunity to be that conduit to say ‘You can do it.’ It may take a while, but perseverance pays off.”

In this role, Ervin serves as the NCANG chief of staff, and his duties include advising the adjunct general on personnel issues, directing the headquarters’ staff, working with the guard on a national level, and helping with strategic planning.

“Saint Leo helped me understand the importance of thinking broadly, the importance of making decisions based on business principles.”

— Brigadier General Clarence Ervin ’81, ’83

Originally from South Carolina, Ervin first studied biology at Winthrop University in Rock Hill. Hard pressed for tuition, he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1979 as a fuels specialist to earn enough money to finish his degree. While stationed at Homestead Air Force Base, he enrolled at Saint Leo University’s education center at the base. “I started out [at Saint Leo] because of the convenience, but once I got in and saw the value of the classes, I was hooked,” Ervin said.

In civilian life, Ervin works for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services as assistant chief for Acute and Home Care Licensure and Certification. He credits his Saint Leo education for helping advance both his military and civilian careers. Ervin points to his Saint Leo experience as one of the most important beginning points in his life—one that set him on the path to future success.

“Saint Leo helped me understand the importance of thinking broadly, the importance of making decisions based on business principles,” he said.

Brigadier General Clarence ErvinErvin left active duty in the U.S. Air Force in 1983 and joined the NCANG two years later. He earned his officer’s commission in 1988 when he graduated from the Academy of Military Science at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base near Knoxville, TN.

During his Air National Guard career, he served as the chief of military equal opportunity, commander of the 145th Services Flight, the 145th Mission Support Group, and as vice commander of the 145th Airlift Wing, all units located at the NCANG base at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, NC.

“My military career has been my ministry,” said Ervin, who added he never really wanted to join the military. “When I got out in 1983, I said I would never join again. But life events led me back.

“I have the opportunity to share my commitment to the military with so many people. I hope to provide skills to my fellow airmen to follow in my footsteps and be successful in life in general. That is my way of giving back.”

Our alumni, students, faculty, and staff enjoy a variety of special events throughout the year. Take a few moments to experience Saint Leo in Pictures. Click on any photo below to learn more.

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Burke Tomaselli ’16 (left) and Zoe Mathieu ’16 facing off in the mock presidential debate. During fall semester, Saint Leo University students in a broad range of academic classes created a fictitious (but realistic) two-party American presidential campaign. Students assumed the roles of candidates, staff, press, security consultants, and other key players, culminating with a debate between the fictitious Republican and Democratic presidential nominees on November 13.

 

 

 

 

 

A Day for Saint Leo

Friday, November 13, 2015, marked the second annual Day for Saint Leo celebration. Students, faculty, and staff from across the university donned the green and gold, and generous donors showed their support. When the day was done, community members had shared 643 posts on social media sites and donated nearly $55,000. At University Campus, the tradition of crowning a Saint Leo king and queen was reinstated, as Masterson Dempsey ’16 and Haley Wing ’16 enjoyed their new royal titles.

A Day for Saint Leo (2)

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Coming Home to You Tour

During fall 2015, the Coming Home to You Tour continued with stops in Florida and for the first time visiting Virginia. The tour expanded again in the spring with the first-ever stops in Georgia. The events allowed alumni to connect with Saint Leo in their hometown, while networking, enjoying food and beverages, and sharing #MySaintLeo.

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Road Trip!

The Saint Leo women’s basketball team traveled to North Carolina for a pair of pre-season exhibition games against Division I opposition in November. Alumni, parents, and staff joined the Lions on the road for both games and also enjoyed a special reception with the players and coaches in Durham, NC. Highlights of the trip included the game at Duke University played at historic Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Road-trip


Sigma Beta Holiday Gathering

Several brothers from the Sigma Beta fraternity gathered for their own Holiday Reunion at the New York City Athletic Club this winter. Each year the “Beta Brothers” pay respect to the brothers who are no longer with us and remember the awesome time they had at Saint Leo, “home of the Monarchs.”

Left to right: Bob Tennyson ’72, Jeff McCarthy ’71, Eugene Wendelken, Dennis Lepore ’72, Robert Sheridan ’73, Joe Mullane ’70, Carl Miranda ’71,  William Burns ’73, Doug Smith ’71, Dickie Palazzo ’72, Michael Neenan ’71, Victor Hogan ’73;  kneeling: William Tully ’73
Left to right: Bob Tennyson ’72, Jeff McCarthy ’71, Eugene Wendelken, Dennis Lepore ’72, Robert Sheridan ’73, Joe Mullane ’70, Carl Miranda ’71,  William Burns ’73, Doug Smith ’71, Dickie Palazzo ’72, Michael Neenan ’71, Victor Hogan ’72;  kneeling: William Tully ’73

Prep Class of 1959 Group

Members of the Class of 1959 gathered in south Florida for an impromptu reunion this winter. The group traveled to Florida from Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Gordon Winslow received an award from the group, presumptively representing the entire Class of ’59, for all his efforts in keeping everyone together.

Standing from left to right: Gordon Winslow, Jim Toner, Carl Baerst, Jorge Salgado, and William “Neal” Behringer; seated left to right: Tom Peschio (Saint Leo Board of Trustees member) and Jim Garcia
Standing from left to right: Gordon Winslow, Jim Toner, Carl Baerst, Jorge Salgado, and Allen “Chick” Behringer; seated left to right: Tom Peschio (Saint Leo Board of Trustees member) and Jim Garcia

 

Known as a “quiet force,” Eric Ward ’13 was named the Tampa Police Department chief on April 30. Ward, who grew up in the Belmont Heights area of East Tampa, has served in almost every area of the Tampa Police Department. His work with the department exemplifies Saint Leo University’s core value of community.

Ward, who earned his Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice, is known for reaching out to those in Tampa. One of his main goals as chief is to make sure the community and law enforcement have a good bond. To that end, Ward often visits Grady Elementary, where his wife is a teacher, as well as Tampa PAL (Police Athletic League). He remembers that Belmont Heights Little League and Tampa PAL played a role in his life from a young age, and it is where he learned that most police officers are “good.” Those officers provided him with skills and knowledge to be successful.

“You have to interact with kids at an early age,” Ward said in a City of Tampa video. “The sooner we can interact with them, the better it is for law enforcement and the community.”

The Tampa police chief saw tensions between law enforcement and his East Tampa community when he was growing up. So when he was 21, he decided to join the police force “to make a difference from within.” He explains, “It was a lifelong goal to become a police officer, but I did not envision myself as being the chief.”

While he was a TPD officer, Ward began taking classes at University Campus, at the MacDill Education Office, and online. “I knew that Saint Leo had a highly regarded criminal justice program, and that many of my colleagues have benefitted greatly from the classes,” he said.

He faced the trials of many adult learners. “Time management was a challenge,” Ward said. “It takes a tremendous amount of discipline for a full-time police officer—with a family—to devote the appropriate time to classwork.”

His favorite memories of his time as a Saint Leo student? “I especially enjoyed networking with colleagues in law enforcement and in the military.”

On the city website, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said his selection of a new police chief was one of the most important appointments a mayor can make. “Within the department, Eric is known as a quiet force, and his methodical demeanor and certitude will serve him, the department, and our city.”

Ward will take the skills he learned at Saint Leo and his 27 years with the Tampa Police Department and use them to serve the Tampa Bay area.

“As a police officer—and now as chief—I recognize that I have a tremendous opportunity to accomplish things for this city and this community,” Ward said. “I welcome that opportunity, as well as the challenges that go with it. My favorite part is being in the community and seeing where we have made a difference, or where we can make a difference.”

Following the Saint Leo men’s golf program’s historic National Semifinal finish in the 2015 NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships, here’s a look at a Lion who continues to succeed in the
golf industry.

Bayram 1Marc Bayram was a four-year starter for the Saint Leo men’s golf team before earning his undergraduate degree in business administration with a minor in golf course management. He immediately put his experience inside and outside of the classroom to use by working in the golf industry as a teacher, coach, and administrator. He began his teaching career at Plantation Palms Golf Club in Land O’Lakes, FL, and was also the head coach of nearby Sunlake High School. Marc also gave back to Saint Leo golf during that time, serving as an assistant golf coach for both the men’s and women’s programs.

“Seeing the success of the [2015] team has made me a really proud Lion. I know how tough the competition is in the Sunshine State Conference,” said Bayram. “Many players I played against during my years at Saint Leo have made careers on the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour. To see the current team doing so well in such a competitive environment is really special, and I would not be surprised to see one of them playing on TV someday.”

Returning home to Connecticut in 2008, Bayram served as the assistant golf professional at Shuttle Meadow Country Club in Kensington, CT. He further ascended the career ladder in 2011 when he became the head golf professional at Timberlin Golf Club, where he continues to share the game and his experience with others. Marc is a Class-A PGA member and has devoted his professional career to the PGA of America and the growth of the game of golf. He has been an active participant in PGA programs and was recognized as the 2012 Merchandiser of the Year and 2015 Youth Player Development Award winner in the CT section PGA.

Marc resides in Berlin, CT, with his wife, Kat, and children Shelby-Mae, Marc, and Max.

“I am very fortunate to have a career that I enjoy,” Bayram added. “Being able to support my family with a job doing something I love would not have been possible without my Saint Leo education and experiences as a student-athlete.”

Alumni Weekend 2015

Alumni of all ages and from many locations traveled to University Campus in April to celebrate Alumni Weekend. Old friends reminisced and spent time touring the campus, enjoying a tailgate get-together, applauding Athletics Hall of Fame inductees, and reconnecting with their alma mater.

My Saint Leo is…Community.


2015 Alumni Awards

One of the highlights of Alumni Weekend 2015 was the Friday evening President’s Reception hosted in the construction site of the recently named Kirk Hall. The Setting was unique and provided the stage for the Saint Leo University Alumni Association to honor graduates for their outstanding achievements.

Young Alumna – Mary Cahee ’05 (Shaw Education Center)

Outstanding Service Award – Doug Reichwein ’07 & MikePagnotta ’10 (University Campus)

Distinguished Alumnus – Donald Tapia ’05 (COL), ’07 (MBA Online)


Marry Me?

While Mike Pagnotta ’10 was recognized with the Alumni Association’s Outstanding Service Award during our Alumni Weekend President’s Reception, it’s understandable if he seemed a little preoccupied. Shortly after the reception, Mike and his girlfriend, Ana Davila ’10, took a walk around campus. As they looked out over Lake Jovita, Mike proposed and Ana accepted, marking the latest love connection started at Saint Leo. Congrats to Ana and Mike!