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Saint Leo Rolls Out Welcome Mat For Its First World Campus Graduates

The graduates studied in Spanish in their native countries of Peru, Mexico, Columbia, Chile, and Guatemala and traveled to Florida for commencement

Tags: Bachelor’s Commencement Core Values Graduates International Master of Business Administration Master’s MBA Psychology Saint Leo University WorldWide World Campus Accessible Education Radical Hospitality Latin America Data Analytics
5 June 2024 - By University Communications

As Saint Leo University recently welcomed graduating students and their families to campus and the Florida State Fairgrounds for commencement events, there were some students who traveled a bit farther than others — and they were the first graduates from their program. 


Saint Leo’s World Campus program celebrated its first graduates who made the trip from Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Guatemala to Florida to join with other members of the university’s Class of 2024 in crossing the graduation stage. 

The World Campus program is an innovative initiative that offers Saint Leo degrees online, translated and globalized to the language and culture in Latin America, India, and Brazil. These first graduates studied in their home countries in courses that were taught in Spanish. 

Saint Leo’s inaugural World Campus graduates from Latin America who traveled to Florida to participate in commencement are:


Cesar Elias Combe Fritz, of Peru, earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) - data analytics;

Viridiana Berenice Lucia Arias Tapia, of Mexico, earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) - data analytics;

Federico Jurado Cabrera, of Mexico, earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) - data analytics;

Ingrid Natally Ramírez Agudelo, of Colombia, earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) - data analytics;

Marcelo Fabian Pérez Armijo, of Chile, earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) - data analytics;

Richard Michelle Lopez Rojas, of Peru, earned a Master of Business Administration;

Jimena Patricia Palomino Reyes, of Peru, earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology;

Jonathan Richard Rodriguez López, of Peru, earned a Master of Business Administration;

Dania Sarai Palencia Palencia of Guatemala, earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology; 

Jenniffer Lucía Altamirano Rios, of Peru, graduated cum laude earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology; and, 

Leticia de los Ángeles Oliva Silva, of Chile, graduated magna cum laude and earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology.

The World Campus program speaks to Saint Leo University’s commitment to making a college degree accessible to everyone, noted Saint Leo University President Ed Dadez. 


“Saint Leo University has a history of innovating to serve the needs of our students, from our founding in 1889 as Florida’s first Catholic higher education institution to being one of the first universities to start an online education program more than 25 years ago,” Dadez said. “Today that history of innovation continues with our World Campus program which is bringing our fully online programs into Latin America in Spanish.”

Several of the World Campus graduates had been in class together virtually, and they enjoyed the opportunity to finally meet each other in person at Saint Leo’s campus in Pasco County, Florida. 


On May 10, the first day of commencement activities, they checked in at the Alumni Center in Benedictine Hall and were greeted by Sarah Olsen, director of Alumni Engagement, and Peter Crover ’72, president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. In Spanish, Crover welcomed them “home” to Saint Leo. Next up was a tour of University Campus with Admissions student-ambassadors Josep and Michael Orellana, who are originally from Honduras and were able to communicate well with them in Spanish. In addition, Jessica Torres, Saint Leo WorldWide enrollment counselor, assisted in translations. A stop at the Office of the Center for Global Engagement and a trip to the campus bookstore for Saint Leo “swag” and additional graduation regalia completed the tour before they headed to the Saint Leo Abbey Church for the university’s Baccalaureate Mass and to the Wellness Center for the graduation celebration, Night to Shine. 


Saturday, May 11, was the big day for the graduates as they were among the more than 1,300 Saint Leo students to receive their degrees in commencement ceremonies at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Florida. The 11 graduates were assisted by Tyler Upshaw, assistant vice president of WorldWide Operations, and Dr. Georgina Rivera-Singletary, who served as a translator. Dadez gave a special welcome to the inaugural World Campus graduates, asking them to stand and be recognized, at the beginning of the ceremony. The video of the ceremony can be viewed here.


“It has been very rewarding working with the World Campus program over the past several years,” Upshaw said. “To watch the program grow from an initial launch of 318 enrollments just a couple years ago to more than 11,000 enrollments this past year [summer 2023-summer 2024], has been amazing. Even more exciting was seeing the first graduating class walk at the recent 2024 Saint Leo University annual commencement ceremony. To be able to provide degree programs within various countries, in their native language, speaks to the vision our institution’s leadership has in serving populations who might otherwise not have such an opportunity.”   


To learn more about the World Campus programs available in Latin America, please visit or email