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.
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 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.