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A new partnership provides learners in Latin America with the opportunity to earn degrees in Spanish from Saint Leo University.

While the doors to most colleges and universities stand open and ready to welcome students, the reality is the paths to these doorways can be filled with obstacles. Lack of time, strained financial resources, complicated admissions processes, and geographical distance are just some of the reasons would-be students cite for not pursuing their college dreams.

These obstacles are known to our nation’s colleges and universities, and many have been taking steps to address them.

Saint Leo University is among these institutions, and as part of its efforts to make sweeping changes to improve access, last fall the university announced a bold, new endeavor that only a few American universities have pursued. This spring, Saint Leo University began delivering its online degree programs, employing Spanish for students living in Latin America.

Called Saint Leo University World Campus, the program offers fully immersive degree programs delivered in Spanish, taught by faculty who are native Spanish speakers, many of whom live and work in Latin America. The student experience—from the website and admissions process to the university’s online coursework—has been translated and localized to provide a quality learning experience in the student’s native language.

“Our World Campus essentially removes language and location as barriers to learning,” said Saint Leo University President Jeffrey Senese. “From its beginnings, the university has been on the forefront of making college accessible with the launch of the Center for Online Learning, education centers, and programs for military servicemembers. This new endeavor is yet another way that we will continue to deliver on our mission.”

Saint Leo was able to launch into this new space quickly with the help of global education services partner AVENU Learning, which is responsible for overseeing the operations and administration of the World Campus in partnership with Saint Leo University senior leadership.

The program includes bachelor’s degrees in business administration, accounting, human resource management, contemporary studies, psychology, computer information systems, cybersecurity, and health care administration. Master’s degrees in business administration and cybersecurity are also available.

Darlyne Nava
Darlyne Nava, Curaçao in Venezuela, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology

The first day for the university’s World Campus classes began on March 8, and Darlyne Nava, from Curaçao in Venezuela, was among the first group of students. After putting her dreams on hold for five years, she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

“But today, I can thank God and Saint Leo University for opening their doors to me, as well as to other foreigners around the world who, due to several circumstances, have not been able to advance in our studies,” Nava said.

Nava is interested in the study of psychology because it will provide her with an opportunity to help others.

“Apart from developing my career, one of my goals and hopes is to be able to open a foundation to help families, children, youth, and seniors who need to reconnect with society,” Nava said.

Iliandris Jose Alejandra Oviedo Manzo
Iliandris José Alejandra Oviedo Manzo, Bogotá, Colombia, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology

Iliandris José Alejandra Oviedo Manzo, a native Venezuelan who has been living in Bogotá, Colombia, for the past four years, joined Nava in the psychology program. She, too, is interested in the study of psychology because it will allow her to help others overcome obstacles in their lives. She sees many benefits for pursuing this degree at Saint Leo.

“I also very much liked that my diploma could be validated under The Hague Convention,” Oviedo Manzo said. “That seems fantastic to me since I can practice my profession in other countries.”

Dr. Andrée Bojalil is one of the many instructors who make up the World Campus faculty. An anthropologist with a specialty in archaeology, Bojalil is teaching courses in history, arts, and ethics. For Bojalil, working with Saint Leo University is a great chance to bring Latin America and North America closer together. She is excited for both cultures to locate a place for dialogue and interaction.

“Education is the perfect place to talk, complement, and engage in a greater future for our continent,” Bojalil said. “We are all part of the same universe, but we speak different languages which can be translated and complemented through human knowledge.”

As of March, nearly 300 students from Latin America enrolled in the World Campus program. At the end the Spring Semester, Saint Leo was able to expand the reach of World Campus to include students in India.


Learn More about World Campus

To learn more about Saint Leo University World Campus, visit
www.saintleo.edu/world-campus. Admissions questions can be directed to estudiantes@worldcampus.saintleo.edu.

Jason Arigoni

Alumnus Jason Arigoni became a leader for The Home Depot by investing in others.

After high school, Jason Arigoni ’05 was not considering college. He already had established himself firmly in a retail career, working since he was a teenager at the Southeastern grocery chain Winn-Dixie and then joining Target after graduation.

It wasn’t until 2001, when Arigoni played a round of golf at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club and had a casual conversation with another golfer, that he seriously thought about a degree. That golfer turned out to be a Saint Leo admissions counselor. Arigoni started classes in January 2002 and graduated in May 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Working full time while commuting and taking a full course load at University Campus left Arigoni with little time for campus social life. “My time was spent in class or at work,” Arigoni said. “I was working 40 to 55 hours each week, but I did occasionally come out to support sporting events.”

Yet, Arigoni’s Saint Leo experience made an impression.

Jason Arigoni and his team at Home Depot
Jason Arigoni (center) visits with team members in Williston, VT.

It is, perhaps, no coincidence that Arigoni is now regional vice president of the New England region at The Home Depot, a company that espouses core values similar to Saint Leo University’s.

“In all honesty, I think all of Saint Leo’s values align with Home Depot’s,” Arigoni said. “The Home Depot is a values-driven organization. We encourage entrepreneurial spirit, doing the right thing, building strong relationships, giving back, respect for all people, creating shareholder value, excellent customer service, and taking care of our people.”

Taking care of people, especially his customers and his employees, may well be what Arigoni does best.

He made time to speak with Saint Leo while waiting to board a plane on a Friday afternoon. Arigoni’s emphasis on communication skills was evident as he tuned out the airport noise and answered every question thoughtfully—even as he was headed home to (the Boston suburb) where he, his wife, Lina, and their 4-year-old daughter, Gulianna, now live.

“I was really attracted to the values and the culture of The Home Depot, that feeling of ‘We’re going to do this! We believe it! We live by it!’” Arigoni said.

“I didn’t realize how rare it was to be recruited by The Home Depot,” Arigoni said. “I really enjoyed working for Target, so when The Home Depot tried to recruit me, I went back and forth with them for a year and a half.” Once Arigoni made the decision to join the world’s largest home improvement retailer, he never looked back.

Jason Arigoni and his team at Home Depot
Arigoni celebrates the success of an associate.

Arigoni is a proponent of the “inverted pyramid” model of organization and leadership used at The Home Depot. In that business model, front-line associates (employees) are the most important people in the company’s hierarchy because they are closest to the customers.

He said he believes in investing in his associates and attributes his success to that investment.

“The moments that stick with me the most are the ones where you inspire associates who didn’t think they were capable of growing their career, for whatever reason, and you show up and help them break past that notion,” Arigoni said.

“Many of these folks go on to obtain roles that are actually life-changing,” Arigoni said. “The most motivating part is realizing in real time that you are part of one of these career/life-changing moments.”

As focused as he is on his job, Arigoni makes time for other important facets of life.  He and his wife and daughter are working their way through a list of the 100 best things to do in the Northeast. They especially enjoy exploring the Atlantic coastline and hiking.

Jason Arigoni and his team at Home Depot
Arigoni and associates at The Home Depot

Through his position at Home Depot, Arigoni is the “community captain” supporting the service work of the 800 stores in the northern United States. Outside his job, he serves on the executive advisory board for the Ron Burton Training Village, which offers a seven-year program for at-risk youth to guide, support, and mentor them in education, social skills, moral values, leadership, and fitness.

He also makes time for entrepreneurial side gigs, running among other businesses, a property management company.

Arigoni offers this advice to his team and to anyone who aspires to grow their careers: “Understand your personal balance and how that aligns with your personal vision and values. Make time for what motivates you outside of work.

“Remember that you’re in marathon, not a sprint,” Arigoni continued. “Whether you are making a lateral move to get ahead in your career or working toward a college degree that takes a long time to finish, it’s all OK, as long as you meet your end goal and help others along the way.”

Photos courtesy of The Home Depot