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Saint Leo University to Award More Than 1,200 Degrees in May 14 Ceremonies

Doctoral Hooding Ceremony Scheduled for May 13 at University Campus, Commencement Ceremonies Take Place May 14 at Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa

Photo Caption: Saint Leo University commencement 2021 grad shows off mortarboard.

More than 1,200 students will receive their degrees during Saint Leo University’s two in-person commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 14, at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 N., Tampa, FL 33610.

Students from the university’s Florida locations and those who study online throughout the world will come together to celebrate their achievements. Doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees will be awarded at the two ceremonies, with 609 students participating in the morning and 594 students receiving their degrees in the afternoon ceremony.

The graduates studied at the main campus north of Tampa in St. Leo, FL; at its Florida education centers in Tampa, Ocala, Lake City, Jacksonville, Key West, and at the East Pasco Education Center locations in Pasco and Hernando counties; at MacDill Air Force Base (Tampa) and Naval Station Mayport (Jacksonville), and online.

The ceremonies will begin at 2:30 p.m., Friday, May 13, in the Marion Bowman Activities Center, with a doctoral hooding ceremony for more than 40 students receiving doctoral degrees in business administration, criminal justice, and education. The graduates will receive their ceremonial hoods for their graduation gowns in the colors designating their degree programs.

Baccalaureate Mass will follow at 5 p.m., Friday, May 13, also in the Bowman Center, with Abbot Isaac Camacho, Class of 1995, of the Benedictine Monks of Saint Leo Abbey, celebrating, with Father Randall Meissen, university chaplain and director of University Ministry, and Father Lucius Amarillas, classes of 2018 and 2019, concelebrating the service.

A celebration, Saint Leo Under the Stars will follow on the Kirk Hall lawn with appetizers, drinks, music, and dancing. For many graduates, this will be the first time they have visited University Campus as they have studied online or at one of the other Florida teaching locations.

Saturday Morning Ceremony

Saint Leo University’s commencement exercises begin at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 14, at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa.

Graduating during this ceremony will be:

  • University Campus undergraduate students (bachelor’s and associate degrees);
  • Tapia College of Business graduate students (Doctor of Business Administration, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Accounting degrees);
  • College of Arts and Sciences graduate students (master’s in creative writing, psychology, and theology degrees); and,
  • School of Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Data Science (CARDS) graduate students (master’s degrees in computer science and cybersecurity).

Serving as faculty marshal will be Dr. Kathryn Duncan, professor of English.

Honored as the Class of 2022’s valedictorian will be Kylie Culver of Tampa, FL, who studies in the Honors Program, and will graduate summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and minors in Spanish and world politics. Culver also will deliver the Class of 2022 Farewell.

Culver is the Saint Leo Mark Orr Fellow to the Tampa Bay Committee on Foreign Relations, and president of Phi Alpha Theta, the university’s history honor society. She has been an embedded tutor through the Center for Academic Vision & Excellence for the last three years. Her senior seminar research paper was the basis for her presentation at the Florida Conference of Historians and was submitted for publication in an undergraduate historical journal. She will attend the University of South Florida’s Florida Studies Program, in which she is a finalist for a fellowship that would include a large stipend, tuition remission, and paid study-abroad opportunities for two summers in a number of different countries.

Named as the salutatorian for the Class of 2022 is David Pacheco of Spring Hill, FL, who is graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science: information assurance.

At Saint Leo, David has been a recipient of the Clara McDonald Olson Scholastic Excellence Award, and the prestigious Emerging Mathematics and Computer Science Scholars STEM scholarship awarded by the National Science Foundation.

Saturday Afternoon Ceremony

Saint Leo University’s afternoon commencement exercises begin at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 14, also at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa.

Graduating during this ceremony will be:

  • Saint Leo WorldWide online and Florida education center students (bachelor’s and associate degrees), and
  • College of Education and Social Services graduate students (doctoral degrees in criminal justice and education and master’s degrees in education, emergency and disaster management, human services administration, instructional design, and social work).

Serving as faculty marshal for the afternoon ceremony will be Dr. Daniel Tschopp, professor of accounting.

At both ceremonies, Board of Trustees member Iskra Sbraccia, classes of 2005 and 2009, will lead the new graduates in the turning of the tassels on their mortarboards and welcome them as alumni.

In addition, Saint Leo Board of Trustees Chair John E. View, Class of 1972, as well as Dr. Jeffrey D. Senese, the university president, will address the students.

Livestream Available

Friends and family who are not able to attend the ceremony in person may watch via livestreaming video. A link will be posted on the day of the ceremony at to access the livestream.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, offering 62 degree programs to more than 15,800 students each year. Founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks and sisters, the private, nonprofit university is known for providing a values-based education to learners of all backgrounds and ages in the liberal arts tradition. Saint Leo is regionally accredited and offers a residential campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, 16 education centers in five states, and an online program for students anywhere. The university is home to more than 100,000 alumni. Learn more at

Photo Caption: Saint Leo University diploma covers are ready at 2021 commencement.