Saint Leo University Hosts Commencement for One

June 06, 2016

Danielle Bunin was all set to receive her MBA from Saint Leo University on Saturday, April 30. On that warm, sunny morning, Bunin was dressed in full commencement regalia. As the students began lining up to make their walk to the Marion Bowman Activities Center, Bunin, who was about six months pregnant, suddenly passed out and fell, landing on her stomach. She was helped to a nearby bench and then taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Although her baby boy was fine, Bunin was unable to return to walk across the stage and receive her degree. Bunin -family -and -Dr --Lennox

So at 9 a.m., Monday, June 6, Bunin finally received her Master of Business Administration degree in human resource management from Dr. William J. Lennox Jr., president of Saint Leo University, in a commencement ceremony of her own. Bunin, of Land O’ Lakes, FL, was joined by her husband, Brad, and son, Ashton, 2, at Saint Francis Hall.

“I am sad that I didn't get to walk [on April 30], but grateful to the staff who helped me,” Bunin said in an email to the university.”

Education at Saint Leo is a family affair for Bunin. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Saint Leo while pregnant with her son, Ashton. She was joined at the May 2014 commencement by her mother, Lorene Mervis of Brooksville, FL, who earned her Bachelor of Arts in sociology. Mervis is now pursuing a master’s degree, and Brad Bunin will study at Saint Leo.

“Saint Leo is family,” Danielle Bunin said. And Dr. Lennox joked that young Ashton will be the next Lion.

Bunin was overwhelmed that the university would host a commencement just for her. “This is wonderful,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting this. But this is Saint Leo.”

Dr. Lennox emphasized that Saint Leo educates more than 16,000 students at its more than 40 education centers and offices in seven states. “And most students are mid-career, working, raising families, and attending class,” he said. “It is a family pursuit.”

Bunin took classes full time, cared for young Ashton, and worked from home in social media marketing while working on her MBA. And she credited her strong support system with helping her along the way.

Her advice to other mothers considering pursuing their advanced degrees: “Go for it,” she said. “You always have to keep pushing. You are never finished learning. I’m just so grateful.”