Saint Leo University opened its newest location in March in the master-planned Nexton community, located in Summerville, SC. The new Charleston Education Center is now serving the tri-county area of Charleston, Dorchester, and Berkeley counties.
“This new 9,000-square-foot facility will provide more space for student resources, classes, and activities, better technology, and space to grow,” said Candis Whitfield, assistant vice president for the Central Region.
Saint Leo University’s Charleston Education Center features a dedicated computer lab, learning resource center, student lounge, and much more. A grand opening ceremony will be held at a later date.
Cynthia Cordero ’16 lives without limits. When a sudden medical issue—similar to a stroke—affected her cognitive function, speech, and ability to write, Cordero thought she would never draw again. Instead, the U.S. Navy officer found that her lifelong passion of drawing became therapy for her and others.
“Disability limits you from being able to do one thing, but it doesn’t limit you from everything,” Cordero said. Inspired, she began creating coloring books to share with children who have disabilities.
For more than two years, Cordero has volunteered at children’s hospitals. She always takes paper with her on visits, and she uses drawing and coloring to connect with the young patients, who have disabilities and/or may be terminally ill. Drawing allows them to dream about what they can do despite their disability. “As a kid you can dream up anything that you want, and creativity allows kids to bring those dreams to life,” Cordero said.
In turn, the children inspired Cordero to create a series of coloring books. The featured characters are based on children and people she meets. The message of the Don’t Let a Disability Disable You coloring book series is that a disability may limit a person, but it can’t stop them from contributing to their community and world.
“I’m hoping that through seeing themselves in a creative way, it can inspire them to know they can do anything,” Cordero said.
The series follows the children as they grow. The first coloring book, created for 2- to 8-year-olds, depicts children with disabilities dreaming about themselves as adults in various careers. The characters include a teacher with autism, a motivational speaker who is an amputee, and a doctor who must use an oxygen tank.
The characters are depicted with Cordero’s positive and playful style: diverse children in fun, colorful outfits with large, emotion-filled eyes. Book two, for children ages 8 to 11, features the characters as superheroes who use their disability to cure and help others.
Cordero, 33, is working on a third book, which is aimed at teens. The characters, also now teens, will be volunteers, who give back to their community.
Growing up in Long Island, NY, and Puerto Rico, Cordero dreamed of seeing the world. She joined the Navy in 2005 in order to travel and was deployed to Bahrain, Portugal, Italy, Michigan, and Florida. Now, she is based in Virginia Beach, VA, where she serves as a personnel specialist. She lives with her wife, Lauren McNulty, a mental health rehabilitation therapist.
Her love of children drew her to pursuing a degree in criminal justice. “It is a field that allows us as professionals to help those in need,” Cordero said. An internship in juvenile detention made her realize she wanted to assist children.
A friend recommended she enroll in Saint Leo University’s Center for Online Learning because of the program’s flexibility. Online education worked for her schedule and for her frequent deployments. The university’s core values also attracted her to Saint Leo. “You don’t find a lot of schools that take pride in and emphasize their values,” she said.
Cordero recommends Saint Leo’s online program to her fellow sailors because it offers individual attention and flexibility. Saint Leo “opened doors for me,” she said, both in the Navy and in her work with children. “This school is a great part of my story.”
Her service to the Navy and to children was recognized by her peers and community, and she was named the 2019 Samuel T. Northern Military Citizen of the Year by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. For Cordero, the honor meant her work is recognized and valued, and the recognition will bring more awareness about empowering those with disabilities and will allow her to help more people.
Cordero also wants adults to hear her message and to recognize their own superpowers, much like the characters in her second coloring book. The fourth offering in the Don’t Let Disability Disable You series will feature adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental health issues. When her own medical issue occurred more than two years ago, she knew that a disability would not “stop me from wanting to serve my country anymore.” Cordero wants her fellow sailors with disabilities to recognize that, “everyone has something to contribute to the team.”
The coloring books are self-produced at this time, and Cordero founded a nonprofit organization, Cyn’s Vision, to help with production and other efforts. Money raised from purchases go back to the project so that the books may be donated to children’s hospitals and individuals, she said.
Cordero continues to dream. She plans on retiring from the Navy in five years and building Cyn’s Vision. She envisions creating an art therapy center to expand her outreach.
Her advice: “Take time to do what you have to do to achieve the goal. You may have to find variations from the normal ways, but don’t let a disability disable you.”
For More Information
Follow Cyn’s Vision at Cyn’s Vision Art on Facebook and Instagram @cynsvision. To request a coloring book, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (616) 773-9596.
One of the most common complaints I hear from clients in my coaching practice is that they just don’t make the kind of progress they’d like when trying to turn their ideas into reality. I have found that these aggravating hurdles crop up when we are not yet clear enough with ourselves about why we are pursuing an idea and the way we are approaching it.
What’s your why?
It is easy for us to be attracted by ideas, dreams, or fantasies about what our future might look like, but all too often, we settle on a surface-level understanding of why we want to do something. For example, a common response I hear to the “why” question is, “to make more money.” That’s a perfectly reasonable response.
However, research has shown that after we have enough money to become comfortable, money begins to lose its luster as a motivational force. That’s when we need to dig a bit deeper and connect the goal to something that aligns with our values, allows us to tap into our strengths, or permits us to live a life we find fulfilling.
We need to go into “toddler mode” and keep asking, “why is that important?” What is it about money that makes us want more of it? How would we use the money? Having a solid “why” can reinforce each step of our progress and can help us sustain our efforts, which is crucial when life gets busy and things get in the way.
How to make progress on ideas
A commonly used technique for making progress on ideas is to have SMART goals. These are goals that are specific in nature and could be easily explained to someone else. They also are measurable, so you will know precisely when the goal has been met. While the goals may be challenging, they must be achievable in the sense that they are realistic and possible. Relevant goals relate to one’s values and to the “why” discussed above. Finally, the goals should be time-limited. They must have a specific time frame that is reasonable and that fits into one’s bigger-picture objectives.
Consider making someone else aware of the goal and the deadline you’ve set for achieving it. This goal confidante is known as an accountability partner. Having someone on your side who is expecting news about your progress can have a powerful impact.
For big, long-term goals, it can be particularly helpful to engage in backward planning. This process involves setting a reasonable time frame for achieving a major goal, such as leaving a current job and making a living by owning a business in five years. What kind of income does this business need to have in five years? Set a number and make that the goal. Working backward, what kind of target income would you set for three years from now to be on track? In one year? Six months? Then think about the steps that need to happen to reach each target and break them into SMART goals that you can track.
The next time you find yourself stuck or frustrated with a lack of progress on your goals, remember to closely examine why you’re doing what you’re doing and look carefully at how you’re going about it. Odds are that once you’ve done so, you will find your ideas will start to become real!
Highlights on recent Saint Leo University faculty accomplishments and contributions in teaching and learning.
Historical research by Dr. Karen Hannel of the College of Arts and Sciences and her husband, Dr. Eric Hannel, an adjunct instructor with Saint Leo, prompted the state of Florida to approve the placement of an official marker to note that a vibrant township once existed north of University Campus in the 1800s. The town of Chipco was a trading post established by white settlers and was named for a Seminole chief who actually lived nearby, but separately, with some members of his tribe for a time after the mid-1850s. The white town grew to have a nearby railway link, lumber-planing mill, grist mill, school, and post office, along with farms. The Pasco County (FL) town reached the peak of its commercial prominence in the 1880s, but disappeared by 1909 after a series of economic reversals. Chief Chipco and his band had long since moved to a different locale in mid-Florida, and the chief died in 1881 at more than 100 years of age, according to a newspaper account. The Hannels continue to research this settlement, as its trajectory illustrates so much about the racial interactions, intermittent wars, and economic developments of 19th-century Florida.
Dr. Iain Duffy, a microbiologist and member of the science faculty at University Campus, is president of the Florida Academy of Sciences and is now in the second year of a two-year term. The academy is comprised of scholars from the life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, computer and mathematical sciences, and science teaching, and publishes a quarterly journal.
Dr. Leon Mohan and Dr. Deneˊ Williamson of the Tapia College of Business were published in late 2019 in the International Journal of Sport, Exercise and Physical Education with their article “Youth Sport Participation as a Result of Social Identity Theory.” The article describes survey research conducted in a South Florida city with youths involved with sports through various community organizations. In particular, the researchers zeroed in on children ages 9 to 13, who were primarily African American and Hispanic, to see what role social factors played in getting and keeping the youths involved in sports. The short-term objective was to help associations find influences that can be maintained to get and keep children physically active. Sports that parents and guardians were familiar with, sports played by famous athletes, and sports played by friends and peers were motivating influences. The business professors included work by undergraduate student John-Paul West in their research and publication.
Dr. Matthew Tapie, theology faculty member and director of the Saint Leo University Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies, was invited in February by Spring Hill College in Alabama to deliver a talk on a particularly difficult point in Catholic and Jewish relations. Since 2018, Tapie has been speaking in academic settings and published in academic theological journals on the new controversy about the forced religious conversion of a young boy named Edgardo Mortaro in Bologna, Italy, in 1858. The child was being raised by a Jewish family, in accordance with their own faith, when the Catholic Church learned the boy secretly had been given a Catholic baptism when he was an infant and facing illness. A maid employed by the family performed the baptism without permission from or the knowledge of the baby’s parents. The woman presumably was leaning on her own Catholic teaching as motivation and feared for the soul of the baby if he did not recover. The boy was forcibly removed from his home on the order of Pope Pius IX when the Church eventually learned of this, and despite an international scandal, the church never backed down and instead raised the child.
The case was known chiefly by academics in recent history, but is the subject of the film The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortaro, which was made and directed by Steven Spielberg, but not widely released.
Around the time of the film’s completion, a theologian wrote an academic article that caused hurt feelings and astonishment anew among Catholics and Jews by defending Pope Pius IX and aspects of church law. Tapie’s recent and continuing work on this helps academics and others to become informed about the facts of the 162-year-old case and Catholic reaction today.
Dr. Moneque Walker-Pickett, professor and associate chair of the undergraduate criminal justice program, was selected for a prestigious fellowship program in higher education. She is one of only 38 professionals to be included in the 2020-2021 American Council on Education Fellows Program. The objective of the program is to provide learning opportunities that condense years of practical higher education experience into a curriculum of a single year. Fellows receive strategic planning training, make numerous visits to other campuses, and take part in interactive sessions. Upon completion of the program, fellows return to their own campuses better equipped to address evolving challenges in higher education. Walker-Pickett joins a diverse fellowship class comprised of individuals from Georgetown University, Purdue University, the U.S. Air Force Academy, among other institutions. In addition to holding a doctorate in sociology, Walker-Pickett holds a law degree and worked previously as an attorney. She became a full-time member of the Saint Leo University faculty at University Campus in August 2012.
In July, Saint Leo welcomed Carla Willis as interim vice president of University Advancement and Communications. She brings a wealth of experience and outside perspective to the university.Prior to Saint Leo, Willis was the vice chancellor of university advancement and executive officer of the foundation at the University of North Carolina in Asheville. There, she launched and led a comprehensive giving campaign that raised more than $7.4 million, exceeding the university’s goal. Willis has held several advancement leadership roles throughout her career, which include Kean University in Union, NJ; Ohio State University; Florida A&M University; University of Toledo (OH); and University of Michigan. Willis received her Bachelor of Arts degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Toledo.
In June, Matthew Mills joined Saint Leo as vice president of WorldWide Enrollment Management. In his role, Mills is responsible for the oversight of new student enrollment for the university’s more than 30 education centers, online, and graduate programs. Mills comes to Saint Leo from South University (GA) where he successfully served as vice president of admissions for 11 campuses for more than a decade. He also was able to support the effective launch of eight new campus locations. Prior to South University, Mills served in admissions leadership positions at MedVance Institute of Fort Lauderdale (FL) and Career Education Corporation (IL). Mills received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from East Carolina University.
Saint Leo’s Florida locations came together for the first time to celebrate commencement on April 27 during two ceremonies at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The university hosted nine commencement ceremonies beginning with the Key West Education Center’s on April 19. Additional ceremonies were held in Virginia, Texas, California, and South Carolina, and in Atlanta and Savannah, GA.
The university welcomes all of our new members of the alumni association!
This commencement was a special one for three sisters. Brianna Murphy (center) graduated at the morning Florida ceremony, joining her sisters and fellow alumna Kaitlin Murphy ’17 (left) and Courtney Murphy ’13.
The natural desire for families to do things together makes it unsurprising that many often choose to learn together, too. Each year, Saint Leo serves as the choice university for myriad families. There are generations who have studied here and others who have gone to school together at the same time.
In this story, we profile just some of Saint Leo’s family connections.
Family overcomes obstacles to achieve education goals
Family plays a pivotal role in the lives of Mercy and Luis Figueroa, of Spring Hill, FL. The couple juggled military deployments, work, family commitments, and studying while earning their degrees at Saint Leo.
“My story starts rough, but ends in the American dream,” Mercy said.
Mercy was born in Havana, Cuba, where her father was held as a political prisoner. Helped by the Catholic Church, her family made their way first to Spain and then to New York, leaving Cuba when Mercy was a toddler.
“The Catholic Church has been involved in my whole life,” she said. “It’s pretty awesome I got to go to Saint Leo.”
She grew up in Brooklyn while Luis grew up in the Bronx. “I took a long train ride to find a boyfriend,” she said. “He was a tall football player with a lot of hair, but I destroyed all the hair!”
Luis joined the U.S. Army first and then encouraged Mercy to get involved. She served in the Army for four years until her daughter Gabby was born prematurely at 24 weeks with cerebral palsy and other health issues.
“She decided as much as she loved the military, she loved her daughter more,” Luis said, and Mercy left the Army to care for Gabby.
Mercy transitioned from active duty military to being a supportive military spouse. Luis, a staff sergeant, left active duty in October 2014, and retired from the military this summer. He was often deployed, and Mercy took care not only of Gabby, but also sons Isaac, who is a junior at Saint Leo, and Connor, a high school senior. “We adopted Connor from the foster care system,” Mercy said.
Luis was stationed in Fort Lewis, WA, and while deployed in Iraq, he read about Saint Leo. “It piqued my interest,” he said. “Then I came down here and realized the campus was close [to the family home in Spring Hill].” In 2011, he began his first semester at Saint Leo, but again was deployed on a high-priority mission and had to take a break. But in fall 2014, he started again and never turned back.
Mercy tried to go to college “a million times,” she said. “Once I got Gabby medically stable, I started.” Luis encouraged her to join him at Saint Leo, and she earned her associate degree in 2016.
The university felt like home. “Once I heard about Saint Leo’s history, the diversity and inclusion, at a time when they didn’t have to accept other races, cultures, that is what made me love it,” Mercy said. “There are people from everywhere at Saint Leo. It is such a great place.”
The Figueroas not only have son Isaac studying at Saint Leo, but Mercy’s sister, Heavenly Aguilar, graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice-criminalistics at the Tampa commencement ceremony on May 31. She now is pursuing a master’s degree.
Mercy graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice-criminalistics, while Luis also graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration-technology management.
For Mercy, what’s next is pursuing a law degree at the University of Mississippi School of Law, while Luis will complete his MBA at Saint Leo in December.
A family finds their home at Saint Leo
The U.S. Air Force brought the Blackman family to Florida, but Saint Leo University provided a home away from home for them. For Derrick and Kimberly Blackman and their son Elijah, Saint Leo offered the opportunity to study together, lean on each other, and cheer for each other—in the classroom and on the basketball court.
The family moved to Tampa from Colorado in 2000 when Derrick Blackman was transferred to MacDill Air Force Base. While on active duty with the Air Force, Derrick took a class at Saint Leo and enjoyed it. From there, it was on to pursuing a degree.
Derrick graduated from Saint Leo in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in religion. Next up was Elijah, who enrolled after Saint Leo representatives visited Wesley Chapel (FL) High School during his senior year there. It took a little while longer for Kimberly. “About two years later, my husband encouraged me to enroll,” she said. “He said, ‘You’ve already got your associate degree, and Saint Leo is an awesome institution for getting a quality education.’ And it was great! I’m so grateful.”
Not only did Derrick encourage Kimberly, but he also pursued a master’s degree in theology. In 2017, the Blackmans graduated with Kimberly and Elijah receiving their diplomas together at the Saint Leo WorldWide commencement. Derrick received his master’s degree the next day during the morning graduate program commencement, where he also performed the national anthem.
“It was a great honor and privilege to be able to graduate the same year,” Derrick said. “It was even greater for me as husband and father to witness both my wife and son graduate from [Saint Leo] at the same time. The experience was extremely humbling.”
Now, Derrick teaches at Saint Leo as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Philosophy, Religion, and Theology.
Kimberly graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and now is working toward a master’s in human services administration at Saint Leo.
Elijah, who played basketball for the Lions and served as a University Ministry Mentor, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in sport business. After completing an internship at the University of South Carolina, he now is a graduate assistant for sports strength and conditioning at the University of Arkansas.
Graduating from Saint Leo with his parents made an impression on Elijah. “I thought it was incredible to be able to sit next to my mom during graduation and see my dad walk across the very same stage less than 24 hours later,” he said. “Graduating at the same time as your parents doesn’t happen too often.”
Derrick and Kimberly’s other son, Donovan, graduated from aviation school in 2015 and is working in Arizona. And while they tried to persuade daughter Kandice to attend Saint Leo, she did not want to attend college with her parents and brother. She is enrolled Trinity College of Florida in New Port Richey.
Twin brothers choose same major and graduate together
Two recent grads from the Class of 2018 are not only twins, but they also graduated with the same major and held equivalent jobs as residence hall advisors. In another family connection, they are the sons of Sandy and Dr. Okey Igbonagwam, a Saint Leo assistant professor of computer information systems in Virginia.
As an employee, Igbonagwam is eligible for the university’s tuition remission benefit, which is a big plus in helping families pay for college. While the financial benefit was certainly a factor in the decision, Igbonagwam said his sons were also drawn to Saint Leo by the appeal of University Campus. “First impressions matter,” according to Chidozie and Chigozie. They also liked the academics, and both have wanted to be doctors since they were small. That made the biology major with a specialization in biomedical and health sciences a natural fit. The major is offered only at University Campus.
So, the twins came to Florida and got involved with the Pre-Medical Club, the student-run fundraisers for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and research projects with faculty mentors. Since graduation, both have taken the Medical College Admission Test and are hoping to be admitted to medical school.
Despite deferring their dreams, couple graduates together
When Sherryl Johnson-Tandy and her husband Erik Tandy walked across the commencement stage together on the evening of Friday, April 27, it was a little out of the ordinary. Sherryl, a corporal in the Pasco County (FL) Sheriff’s Office, completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice. So she was grouped with the other adult learners receiving undergraduate degrees in the evening.
Her husband Erik was also graduating with a Saint Leo degree, but his was the Master of Business Administration. The MBA grads are a big group, and are scheduled for the Saturday morning ceremony of commencement weekend, along with those who have attained graduate degrees in other disciplines. But Erik was switched to Friday night at his request so that he and Sherryl could walk across the stage together to celebrate their joint accomplishment.
It was no easy road for the two. They had long wanted to reach these educational goals, but raised a family, so they waited for everyone to be grown and out of the house. It did not quite work out that way. As they went to school, and worked, circumstances required that they also tend often to three grandchildren, ages 5, 8, and 9.
Sherryl has a memory of both the adults studying at night, and then Erik “waking me up from sleeping on my computer.” And she often did the same for him. When their finals were over, she said, it was a blessing to don their robes and receive their diplomas together.
The 2017-2018 academic year concluded with 13 commencement ceremonies. Ceremonies took place in Florida, Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, California, and Texas for the university’s education center and online students.
Alysa Nantarojanaporn of Homestead, FL, was awarded the Thomas B. Southard Leadership Award Sabre at the undergraduate commencement on April 28. The sabre was presented to her by Virginia M. “Ginger” Judge, a member of the Board of Trustees. The sabre is given to the Army ROTC graduate who demonstrates leadership achievement in ROTC advanced camp, classes, and labs. Nantarojanaporn is the middle child of nine and the first college graduate in her family. She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice.
Saint Leo University has been involved with the Caps of Love project for three years, collecting plastic bottle caps with the proceeds from recycling going toward purchasing wheelchairs for children with mobility issues. In March, the university shipped about 15,000 pounds of bottle caps for recycling. With the value of plastic caps declining due to a low petroleum market, the university will be participating in a new charitable project in an effort to make a greater impact.
Leslie Sukup ’07, ’11, ’17 is special for many reasons, and here is just one example: She is the first person to earn a bachelor’s, a master’s, and a doctoral degree from Saint Leo University.
Years ago, when Sukup was on active duty with the U.S. Air Force, she wanted to pursue her education. However, every time she moved—which was every two or three years—she would lose credits. Then she discovered Saint Leo. Online education was a fairly new phenomenon, and Saint Leo’s program gave her the flexibility she needed. Even when she was deployed, she “could get access to a computer and keep up with my schoolwork,” she said.
Sukup was amazed that even as an online student, she received personal attention from the faculty. “I loved the experience and loved how I was treated—like everyone else who had been on campus for four years.”
When it came time to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, Sukup happened to be stationed in Washington, DC, at the Pentagon. When offered the chance to come to University Campus to walk for commencement she jumped at the opportunity. Sukup was impressed with how the university treated online students for the commencement activities.
Sukup then went on to earn her Master of Business Administration (MBA). As she took classes, the knowledge she was gaining helped her with her job in the Air Force. In that role, she worked in knowledge management, handling information (both paper and digital), network security, and secure network administration.
She has vivid memories of notable deployments. For instance, soon after the attacks on September 11, 2001, she was deployed to Guam. She spent a few months there at a refueling station, supporting bombers that were headed to Afghanistan. While deployed to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, she took advantage of that location and proudly walked across the commencement stage at University Campus with her MBA. At another point, she was assigned to the Pentagon and spent four years in presidential flight support. Working with the Department of Defense “was eye-opening, and I was on call 24/7.”
Sukup finished her MBA in 2011 and applied for the Doctor of Business Administration program the following year. At that time she was still on active duty, but she always wanted to earn her doctorate. Saint Leo University’s DBA program had just launched, and she knew it was perfect for her.
According to Sukup, the DBA program in management is rigorous, and it “absolutely prepared me to be a professor. The dissertation process, doing research—all that gave me a unique aspect into teaching. I focused on resilience and grit.”
Sukup walked across the commencement stage again on April 29, 2017, as part of the first group of students to earn DBAs from Saint Leo.
In September 2017, after 25 years of service, she retired from the U.S. Air Force, and today she is an assistant professor of management at Ferris State University (MI), teaching organizational behavior and operations management.
“Going into teaching was a lifelong dream for me, a goal since high school,” Sukup said. “I love seeing the lightbulbs come on with students. It’s very rewarding.”
“From day one, Leslie was a model doctoral student,” said Dr. Russell Clayton, assistant professor of management. “Earning a doctorate requires a different mindset than pursuing an MBA, and Leslie definitely figured out quickly how to think like a doctoral student. This showed in everything she did in the DBA program from coursework to her dissertation. I’m happy that she has joined higher education and will be sharing her knowledge with the next generation.”
When she is not teaching class, she spends time with her family: husband, Steven, and two daughters, Sky (age 3) and Sage (age 1). Thinking back to juggling work and school, she explained with a laugh that she learned she was expecting Sky just as she started the DBA program. Then she learned she was expecting Sage just as she started her dissertation.
Her life is full and busy, but what’s next? “I’m a lifelong learner,” Sukup said. “There is always something out there for me to learn and help me be better.”
It has been a busy year for President Bill Lennox. In March, Saint Leo University was honored as the Military Business Partner of the Year at Greater Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce’s 18th annual Military Appreciation Banquet, and Dr. Lennox accepted the award on behalf of the university. In May, he was asked to serve as treasurer of Independent Colleges and Universities in Florida (ICUF). On behalf of ICUF, he visited a number of state legislators and presented them with a plaque recognizing their inclusion on ICUF’s Legislative Honor Roll for supporting private higher education and educational choice in Florida (photo above with State Senator Wilton Simpson). In June, he served as the keynote speaker for the Joint Special Operations University Special Operations Forces Education Conference at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa.
Dr. Melanie Storms Dr. Melanie Storms has joined the university as vice president of the newly created Saint Leo WorldWide division. She has extensive experience with both programmatic and regional accreditation. As a university administrator, Dr. Storms has worked with traditional graduate student populations, as well as adult learners at the graduate and undergraduate levels in campus-based and online settings. Her experience positions her to lead Saint Leo’s online and education center programs through Saint Leo WorldWide. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from the University of Central Florida, and her master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Father Kyle Smith ’07
In July, Father Kyle Smith ’07 returned to his alma mater as chaplain for University Ministry. A Florida native, Father Kyle earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in middle grades education from Saint Leo. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, FL, and moved on to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, FL, to begin his study of theology. Father Kyle earned his Master of Divinity in 2014 and was ordained as a priest in May 2014 for the Diocese of St. Petersburg.
Bob Quinn has joined Saint Leo as vice president of Business Development. He earned his bachelor’s degree and MBA from Fordham University (NY). A seasoned veteran in corporate management, he served as a captain in the U.S. Army and was awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, among other commendations.
Colonel Pamela Martis
In June, retired U.S. Army Colonel Pamela Martis joined Saint Leo University as director of Military Affairs and Services. She retired from active duty in 2013, having served 28 years. She was commissioned from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, Class of 1985, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in operations research management. She earned a Master of Arts degree in Russian, Central European, East European, and Eurasian studies from the University of Kansas. In addition, she received a master’s degree from the National Defense University, Industrial College of the Armed Forces. She was awarded the Bronze Star and the Department of Defense Distinguished Superior Service Medal.
In August, Cyrus Brown assumed the new role of executive director of University Public Safety. In this capacity, he is responsible for reviewing and improving safety measures throughout the university. Prior to joining Saint Leo, he was associate director of safety for Bethune-Cookman University (FL) and served for 31 years in the Florida Highway Patrol. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Barry University (FL) and his master’s degree from the University of Central Florida. He also is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville (KY), and Leadership in Police Organizations program from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.