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.

While the last several months have delivered multiple bad news reports about cybersecurity breaches of customer and employee files at corporations, various government agencies, and even among certain smartphone users and car owners, there is good news in the field of cybersecurity.

CybersecurityTalented people are being attracted to the growing career field of cybersecurity to help corporations, organizations, and individuals learn how to safeguard their vital data. And Saint Leo University is helping to train the workforce with dynamic new academic programs designed to meet the most current industry hiring specifications. The first class to enroll in the master of cybersecurity degree program will graduate in Spring 2016, and the 19 degree candidates are expected to encounter ample career opportunities for promotions and higher-paying positions.

“There are strong indications that there are good career prospects for these students,” commented Dr. Vyas Krishnan, assistant professor of computer science, who helped design the MS program. One company has told Saint Leo it wants to interview master’s degree candidates in the fall for hiring in the spring. On a national scale, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the job growth rate for information security analysts (an industry term for cyber experts) during the period 2012-2022 will exceed 36.5 percent, while the growth rate for computer systems analysts will exceed 24.5 percent. “The projected job growth rates of 36.5 percent and 24.5 percent represent a substantial increase,” Dr. Krishnan said, “creating a robust demand for graduates with a degree in cybersecurity.”

The 36-hour MS program in cybersecurity is specifically marketed to those who already possess some experience in the information technology field. More than 60 students are in some stage of the advanced degree program currently. It is now offered online as well as at University Campus, with a second cohort beginning on-ground studies now.

Students are versed in the technical competencies of safeguarding operating systems, networks, databases, and other software applications. The students’ curriculum is compliant with standards established by the National Security Agency, and it prepares them to attain a number of industry-recognized certifications. “These information security professionals require proficiency in a variety of current and emerging technologies—computer and network security, operating systems security, cryptography, Internet/intranet security, biometrics, compliance and legal issues, and homeland security,” Dr. Krishnan elaborated.

CybersecurityTo be as effective as possible over the long term of their careers, graduates must also emerge from the university with an understanding of the management environments they will operate in and the needs of chief executives they will serve. Saint Leo offers students an advantage in this regard, as the academic home of the cybersecurity instruction is the Donald R. Tapia School of Business, an environment that prepares students to function in business organizations. “Securing the information assets of an enterprise depends on more than just a technical foundation in information security,” Dr. Krishnan explained. “It requires an overall security management approach that combines the business needs of the enterprise, the technical and business risks associated with those information assets, the relevant legal issues, and how the systems interact with people: the developers, the system managers, and the internal and external users.”

Many of these institutional strengths also influence positively the instruction at the undergraduate level, where Saint Leo students have been so far able to earn the Bachelor of Science in computer information systems (popular in many education centers) or the more technically oriented computer science program. They may also earn a minor in information assurance with either program to gain cyber credentials. Apart from those options, students are also invited to take part in fun activities, including a cybersecurity club, a cybersecurity competition that may become an annual event, and opportunities to make presentations on topics such as computer extortion at Academic Excellence Day (held each April at University Campus).
Still, Saint Leo as an institution is ambitious to do more, and so development of a Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity is underway. At the earliest, it would be offered in Fall 2016, at University Campus and online. The objective of the Bachelor of Science degree will be to prepare graduates for careers in developing security products and procedures, so they may work in roles such as security-application programmers, testers, analysts, and even cyber-legal analysts, Dr. Krishnan said. The curriculum proposed for the BS in cybersecurity requires core courses from the computer science degree and supplements that with six courses on technical aspects of cybersecurity and two courses from the bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice (housed in the School of Education and Social Services).

Another option is also on the table: an accelerated program just approved that will move motivated students swiftly from the BS in computer science through the MS in cybersecurity. It is called one of the Tapia School’s “3 +1” programs, explained Dr. Derek Mohammed, the chair of the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, and shortens the student’s overall time in the academic setting.

CybersecurityThere is good reason to be optimistic about the job prospects for Tapia School graduates from these programs, too, according to Dr. Mohammed. Four graduates of the class of 2015 who earned the BS in computer science with a minor in information assurance—the most cyber-intensive offering available at the time—were sw
iftly hired after graduation at a technology company, a soft-drink company, a staffing company, and the City of Tampa.

Saint Leo has also signed on to participate in a specialized program in Florida for veterans. The pilot program was created to train veterans for careers in cybersecurity by making selected online courses available to them. The student-veterans enrolled will eventually take certain industry certification tests and earn a certificate of completion.

To meet the growing instructional and advisory duties all these initiatives will create, Saint Leo has hired two faculty members for newly created positions this fall at University Campus, Dr. Mohammed noted, in addition to a faculty member hired to fill an open position. Two faculty members have been brought on in Virginia in recent years, as well. “This really demonstrates Saint Leo’s commitment to cybersecurity,” he said.

Further, Saint Leo has met head-on the particular challenges academic institutions face in preparing entrants for this fast-paced field, Dr. Krishnan commented. “There is a constant ‘arms race’ between cyber-criminals with their increasingly sophisticated methods of cyberattacks, and the efforts of cybersecurity professionals to mitigate and defend against these threats,” he said. “To be effective as a university, it is imperative for faculty teaching courses in cybersecurity to stay current with the latest trends and needs of the industry. Saint Leo faculty are committed to preparing sophisticated practitioners who are well-versed in the science of protecting vital computer networks and infrastructures from attack.”