Saint Leo University Greets Class of 2021, New Students

August 18, 2017

Students getting keys to room  Vargas Family  Dr. Lennox Carryies students boxes on move in day


More than 700 freshmen and transfer students were welcomed and moved in to Saint Leo University on August 17. They were met by members of the Office of First Year Experience team, Residence Life advisors, University Ministry, upperclassmen, coaches and athletic teams, faculty, staff, and administrators, who helped unload their belongings.

Each residence hall was a beehive of activity as new students checked in, received their room keys, and moved to their new home-away-from-home at Saint Leo. Orientation volunteers chanted the new cheer, “Paws Up, Claws Out,” and welcomed the students with smiles and helping hands.

Some of Saint Leo’s new freshmen are legacies, meaning their parents are alumni. Wendy Vargas, who graduated in 2000, said she moved in to Marmion Hall in 1996. She met husband Martin Vargas, Class of 1999, at Saint Leo. Now, their member of the Class of 2021, son Angel, will major in history with a minor in education.

“There was no welcoming committee when I moved in,” Wendy Vargas, said laughing.

Parents and the new students appreciated the help they received in unloading their vehicles and carrying the piles (and piles) of stuff to their residence halls.

Later in the day, the incoming students attended a Student Leadership Fair and a welcome ceremony in the Marion Bowman Activities Center gym. University President William J. Lennox Jr., first took a selfie with the Class of 2021 before addressing the students and their families. “I hope everyone felt the welcome today,” Lennox said. He said he knew the students were feeling some angst about leaving family, home, boyfriends, girlfriends, and family pets. He encouraged them to “raise your hand” if they need help. Saint Leo offers the Raise Your Hand program for students to seek assistance and for faculty and staff to refer a student if they observe someone struggling—academically, socially, emotionally, or financially.

Dr. Ed Dadez, vice president of Student Affairs & Campus Operations, told the students that

Saint Leo will encourage them to enrich their lives in “mind, body, and spirit.”

A significant number of incoming students will pursue bachelor’s degrees in biology with an emphasis on biomedical and health sciences with 91 incoming students declaring that major. Business, criminal justice, sport business, computer science, elementary education, management, and psychology are among the most popular majors with the new class. Some students—57—have not decided on a major.

“You really are embarking on a fantastic exploration,” said Dr. Mary Spoto, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and interim vice president of Academic Affairs. “We say, ‘you are more than your major,’ ” Spoto told the students. She said they were going to ask why they were taking a course that is outside of their major. “Be curious, be open, and enjoy the exploration,” she advised.

Saint Leo’s new students will settle in and enjoy the Week of Welcome along with other activities that run through August 31, including a “dive-in” movie at the university pool, a trip to Aquatica, and Paint-U Back to School Bash. Classes begin on Tuesday, August 22.

Students signing frame   Paws out claws out