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Jake Gilmour

Jake Gilmour
Men’s Lacrosse • Sophomore
Pickering, Ontario, Canada
Jake Gilmour had an immediate offensive impact for the Saint Leo men’s lacrosse team in his rookie campaign with 28 goals and a team-best 14 assists for 42 points, second on the team in scoring. He scored at least one goal in all 14 of the Lions’ games in 2015, and charted four goals in games against Adams State and Lynn. A Sunshine State Conference All-Freshman Team honoree, Gilmour’s five assists versus Lees-McRae was one shy of the school record.

Jonathan Glenn

Jonathan Glenn
Soccer • Class of 2011
Iceland
Jonathan Glenn was a member of the Trinidad & Tobago men’s national team that reached the quarterfinals of the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup. Glenn was one of the leading scorers in the Icelandic Premier League in 2014 and recently moved to Breiðablik.

Amanda Jakobsson

Amanda Jakobsson
Women’s Golf • Sophomore
Gothenburg, Sweden
Amanda Jakobsson joined the Saint Leo women’s golf team for the Spring 2015 semester, and immediately became a dynamic force on the team. She finished the season with a team-best 76.11 stroke average over 18 rounds, and was tied for fifth at the Sunshine State Conference Women’s Golf Championship with an eight-over 224. Jakobsson went on to shoot a 227 over three rounds at the NCAA Super Regional, finishing 19th overall.

Jordan Pendleton

Jordan Pendleton
Baseball • Sophomore
Palm Harbor, FL
Jordan Pendleton started off his freshman year battling for the third spot in Saint Leo baseball’s weekend rotation, and finished the year in the No. 2 spot with a stellar freshman season. He logged a 7-1 record with a 3.73 earned run average over 60.1 innings pitched, including Sunshine State Conference wins over Eckerd, Rollins, and Barry. Pendleton finished the season with 34 strikeouts, and was a Second Team All-SSC selection.

Abbie Ross

Abbie Ross
Women’s Lacrosse
Sophomore • Orlando, FL
Abbie Ross turned into a scoring machine for Saint Leo women’s lacrosse, charting a team-best 29 goals and three assists for 32 points in her rookie season. She scored in all but two of the Lions’ 15 games in 2015, including hat tricks against Pfeiffer, Bloomsburg, Newberry, and No. 10 Limestone. A Second Team All-Sunshine State Conference selection, Ross scored 29 goals and is tied for second among single-season goal leaders in the program’s 4-year history.

Alana Tabel

Alana Tabel
Softball • Senior
Loxahatchee, FL
The No. 1 pitcher for Saint Leo softball, Alana Tabel finished her junior season ranked No. 1 in all of Division II with her 0.94 earned run average, after allowing just 18 earned runs over 134.0 innings pitched. Tabel posted a 16-5 record during her junior campaign, and recorded 105 strikeouts in 2015 after recording 144 Ks during her first two seasons combined.

Being a parent is a tough job, but being a single mom taking college classes is even tougher. Yesenia Shaffer ’14, age 26, was one of those moms who juggled and multi-tasked, finally earning her bachelor’s degree in social work in Spring 2014.

It took lots of planning,” Shaffer remembers. “I knew I had to limit how long I was gone from my son.”

Her son, Gavin-Anthony, now 4, was 2 when Shaffer began taking courses toward her bachelor’s degree. Prior to that, she earned her Associate of Arts degree from Pasco-Hernando Community College in New Port Richey, FL (now Pasco-Hernando State College, PHSC).

Gavin-Anthony was foremost in Shaffer’s mind as she began her education journey. “When I first went to school, I didn’t have him in day care,” she says. “So I went to night school. As I went through school, I got a little smarter, and I gained more strength to let go a little bit of my son. I worked nights at the Generations Christian Church in Trinity so I could afford small things, and my son was always with me when I worked in the day care area. I didn’t take on anything where I couldn’t take care of him. I was figuring out what was best for him.”

In addition to getting a college degree, Shaffer also wanted to become a pilot. When she first started her junior year at the Adult Education Center at the New Port Richey Office-PHSC, she only worked nights so that her son could accompany her. “My last semester, I got a job at the flight school and it was two hours both ways in traffic,” she recalls.

Dr. Marguerite McInnis, department chair of social work at Saint Leo, was impressed that her student wanted to be a pilot. “At first she was living in New Port Richey and commuting to Lakeland,” Dr. McInnis says. “And she still did her field placement. I was just amazed at everything she was handling. She maintained a positive attitude, but she was tired. She was juggling everything for her child’s future and for her future.”

Shaffer pursued a bachelor’s degree in social work from Saint Leo’s Adult Education Center at PHSC after not knowing what she wanted to study. It all became clear when she took her first human services class. “During the class, our teacher talked about if you wanted to be a counselor, you should get a social work degree rather than psychology,” Shaffer explains. “I had taken psychology, nursing, and education classes; I actually have my massage therapy license. I always enjoyed helping people, but didn’t know what way was going to be my way.”

Her own life mirrored what she was studying. “I happened to be in every situation,” she says. “I’m a young, Hispanic single mother, recently divorced, trying to go back to school, [with a] home that I can barely pay the mortgage for, and supporting a son.”

After some soul searching, she realized she wanted to help other people by majoring in social work. “I felt so empowered,” she says. “I was at the lowest time in my life, but I felt like I could build myself up to be anything. I had a clean slate. Everyone was so encouraging. I felt strong.”

Shaffer chose Saint Leo because family members and friends had studied at the university. “I grew up right off Old St. Joe Road and did a summer camp at Saint Leo,” she says.” I always knew it was really a great university. It was convenient. It had everything. And I could afford it. It fit all my requirements.”

Shaffer wants to combine flying with humanitarian interests. “I love, love, love to help people and fly and get to places that don’t have a lot of people coming by to help,” Shaffer explains. One of her future goals is to fly to the Caribbean islands and bring supplies. “I want to help people, meeting them where they are and helping them how I can.”

Now she is director of sales and marketing at Kingsky Flight Academy in Lakeland, a five-minute drive from her home. Gavin-Anthony attends a day care at the airfield and is proud of his mother. “He’s so vocal about it,” Shaffer said. “Maybe it comes from being my kid! He’s very verbal—every emotion is expressed. He’s always telling me how he is feeling. He knows that Mommy has worked hard.”

When Saint Leo University launched its Doctor of Business Administration degree program in 2013, it hoped to lure the nation’s best and brightest. That aspiration has been realized with highly intelligent and experienced students joining the first two cohorts. Patrick Plummer is one fine example.

23Plummer has already enjoyed a successful career, having started two health care data businesses and subsequently selling them. In his mind, he was always guided to do what was best for medical patients, and he believes that his companies attained that goal. Along the way, he also collaborated with Virginia Commonwealth University professors on a health care strategy textbook, a project that made him begin thinking about giving back to the next generation.

Now age 50, this Mechanicsburg, PA, native decided that he wanted to go back to school and become a professor, so he began looking for just the right program. Over the last several years, he had researched as many as 30 doctoral programs, but none was exactly what he wanted. Then in January 2014, he did another Google search and found Saint Leo. Within 45 minutes of perusing the website, he knew this was the place he wanted to be.

Catherine, Patrick, Grace, and CarolynA devout Catholic, Plummer was drawn to Saint Leo’s Catholic identity and Benedictine tradition. He even commented, “If I could be a married priest, I would.” He believes that approaching matters from a Catholic basis always makes things clearer for him.

Having sold that second business in December 2013, Plummer and his wife wanted to have a meaningful family trip for themselves and their two daughters, ages 13 and 14. So in August 2014, they traveled to Italy, where they spent two and a half weeks touring the Vatican and the surrounding sites. They enjoyed seeing the pope give his weekly address, amidst tens of thousands of people. “When Papa Franco appeared,” Plummer remembered, “the crowd roared, like someone had scored a touchdown.” Even with a sudden downpour, no one’s spirit was dampened. They also toured the Sistine Chapel and St. Mark’s Cathedral, and viewed The Last Supper. His daughters agreed: “the best trip ever.”

The trip involved so much history—so much emphasis on God, religion, and faith—that Plummer returned, even more determined to make a difference for young people.“I want students to know that you don’t have to be a schmuck to succeed in business,” he explained. “Sometimes it is hard to absorb that message in corporate America. It is easy to take the wrong path if that’s what you think you have to do.”

Plummer is currently on his way to his dream of being a professor, and his goal is to complete his dissertation by December 2016. For now, he is enjoying his time as a student.

“It is a lot more work than I expected,” he said with a laugh. “There is so much reading, and writing, writing, writing. But having the cohort has been a big surprise. I am amazed at how close we have all become in such a short period of time.”

Victoria McKee

Saint Leo education centers often receive thank-yous from grateful students. Here is just one example from Victoria McKee ’15, a student at North Charleston (SC).

Thank you for giving me hope again for my education. I had attended a couple different universities before transferring to yours. I had never felt like anything but another number to advisors and professors at my previous colleges. However, upon transferring to you, I immediately felt welcome.

When you walk into the center, you can feel the “Saint Leo difference.” You are greeted by name by Rene, Ben, and Liz. They remember your husband’s name, your pets and children, and other personal bits which broadcasts how caring they are for the students beyond just academics. At North Charleston, you are more than just a number; you’re the faculty and staff’s foremost priority, and because of this, my motivation for school returned. I turned my grades around a complete 180 upon stepping through these doors and can proudly display my Dean’s List certificates at home. Because of Saint Leo, I can talk proudly about finishing my degree again and have passion for what I’m studying.

I’d especially like to thank my director, Liz Heron. She has gone above and beyond in making sure I wasn’t just passing classes but actually succeeding. Any time I have struggled, I could go to Liz, and whatever the issue was, it was fixed immediately. Liz rekindled my fire for my education; she encourages me each term to get another blue Dean’s List certificate to hang up, and I know I always have someone in my corner cheering. Any time I have fallen behind, she has given me the drive to keep pushing forward and turn it around.

I treasure my time in class and am so grateful for the opportunity for this education. Who would have thought you could actually look forward to going to school? I am almost sad that my graduation date is coming up soon because then that means I will no longer get to walk into these doors into the center. But, hey—there is always a master’s degree to go for.

 


 

Jovanny Vargias

 

Vargas---author-pictureOn Veterans Day 2014, the Saint Leo University community had the opportunity to hear from Jovanny Vargas ’12, ’15, who is currently a student
at Saint Leo as well as a cadet in the Suncoast Battalion. As a veteran, he offered a unique perspective to the crowd at the University Campus ceremony. Here is part of his address:

Veterans play an important role in the Saint Leo community, the ROTC program, and have made an impact on my personal experiences. As a student of Saint Leo, I feel that veterans play a crucial part in our student body and contribute a distinct point of view in the classroom based on their vast experiences. Veterans tend to spark interesting conversations based on their unique perspectives and encourage students to be more engaged in discussions.

In the ROTC program, veterans play a vital role in developing and mentoring other cadets based on their past military experiences. They constantly challenge other cadets and provide skills that benefit the organization. Cadets tend to value the opinions of veterans and rely on their expertise. Their presence in the organization as instructors, cadets, and support staff provides the essential tools needed to have a successful leadership program. The cadets that graduate from the program gain the best training available from the interaction they receive from these veterans.

During my time in service, veterans were those men and women in arms who supported me during my time away from my family. They were people I could rely on when times were hard and I always knew they had my back. They are a group of professionals who don’t settle for anything less than perfection, always striving to exceed the standard.

Saint Leo has always been a great supporter of those serving in our military no matter where that may be. Before I had the opportunity to study as a full-time student here at University Campus, I had to take the majority of my classes online or on military installations. Regardless of where the Army sent me, whether it was in Korea, Morocco, or even in the most secluded areas in the world like Antarctica, Saint Leo has always provided me with the resources I needed in order to pursue my education. It is evident that Saint Leo cares about making education available for veterans no matter where they are located.

I salute those men and women who have served and currently serve this nation.

How did an Ogden, UT, native end up on the Saint Leo Lions volleyball team? “It’s a long story,” Britt Sederholm explains.

Britt-Sederholm3While in high school, the young volleyball player knew she wanted to compete on the collegiate level, was set on Division II, and was focused on a college in New Jersey. However, while competing in a tournament in Colorado, she caught the eye of Coach Sam Cibrone, who was there with his Tampa United volleyball club. One thing led to another, and she decided to pay Saint Leo a visit. She toured the campus, met the team, and instantly knew that the Lions were the team for her. Another important moment from that tournament? She spiked the ball on one play, hitting Maddy Powell—from the opposing team—right in the face. But no hard feelings—the two players are now roommates at Saint Leo.

Britt admits that moving to Florida was a hard transition at first, but her family has been very supportive. Her parents, who adopted her at birth, keep in touch—in fact every day her father texts her and her mother Snapchats. She explains that her parents were very eager to adopt her, as well as her older sister, Shay. “Shay is part Mexican, and the adoption agency was worried that my parents would have a problem with that. They said, ‘We don’t care if she comes out with antennas!’ ” Britt, at five-foot-eleven, jokes that she and her sister look nothing alike: “She is short and brown, but even though I look down on her in height, I look up to her in life.” And Britt claims that her niece, Kylah, is perfect. “She is my favorite person in the world—a little ball of happiness.”

Before Britt was born, her birth mother had one instruction: she did not want the baby growing up in a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) home, which is a tall order in Utah. Jeff and Tamra Sederholm had no problem with that requirement and raised their daughters to be open to all religions. Britt attended a Lutheran school through eighth grade and then a Catholic high school. She explained that at public schools in Utah, almost everyone is LDS and “you can almost feel like an outcast if you’re not.” That was another benefit that Britt sees at Saint Leo, a Catholic institution that welcomes people of all backgrounds and faiths.

What does the future hold for this talented outside hitter? She is majoring in business marketing and would like to work for a professional sports team, following in the footsteps of her best friend and godsister, Julie Johnson.

For now, when she is not studying or playing volleyball, she serves as an assistant coach for Tampa United. “Britt is a great person with awesome energy and devotion to our sport,” commented Coach Cibrone. “She coaches to learn about the game and always gives 100 percent on the court. She is a huge asset to our team.”