ST. LEO, FL – Saint Leo University began welcoming new students to its campus in Pasco County on August 25 with the first of two move-in days for new and transfer students. The university expects nearly 1,000 first-year and transfer students.
The campus was buzzing with activity as students and their families drove through the parking garage to receive keys to their residence halls, important information packets, and more. They then were greeted by volunteers including faculty, staff, coaches, and students who helped carry all the gear the students will need for the year (or at least for Fall Semester)!
“Move-in is a favorite time of year for all of us at Saint Leo,” said Dr. Jen Shaw, vice president of Student Affairs. “We love getting to greet our new students and meet their families. Many Saint Leo community members are helping move students in to their residence halls. Orientation also includes a family respite area, events and programs to help acclimate students and their families, and small group activities led by an upper-class student leader. We want students and families to consider Saint Leo their home away from home!”
And the newcomers and their families did feel welcome. Abigail Picot, a freshman from Tampa who graduated from Bloomingdale Senior High School, is ready for the new school year. The elementary education major said, “I’m looking forward to meeting my roommate.” Her dad, Michael Picot, had a tiny bit of influence on her college choice, he said, but she chose Saint Leo for the welcoming, personal atmosphere. A 1995 graduate of Saint Leo, alumnus Michael Picot marveled at how the campus has changed and grown. And Abigail’s mom, Stephanie, said she appreciates the small campus. “It’s homey,” she said.
Notable characteristics of the incoming Fall 2022 class include:
- 59 percent are from Florida;
- 24 percent are from out of state
- 17 percent are international students from other countries
The top 10 countries that the new students hail from are the Bahamas, India, Canada, Jamaica, Brazil, France, Honduras, Morocco, Argentina, and Colombia.
Anastasiya Astapenka, a computer science major, is one of those international students. From Belarus, Astapenka will be a stretch forward for the women’s basketball team. She was excited to meet everyone. “College is a new level for me,” she said. “And the campus is so beautiful and so hot!”
Her roommate, Milena Walker, is from Connecticut, and also a stretch forward for the women’s basketball team. “This is a new chapter, a fresh start,” said Walker, who will major in criminal justice. She said she couldn’t wait to get to the university. Her mom, Kari, said the young women had been texting each other all summer, excited about beginning their college careers.
While those new students traveled to get to Saint Leo, some students had a shorter trip. Dylan Shinnberg of Spring Hill, FL, said he is looking forward to this year at the university—his first college experience.
Time to Hit the Books
Saint Leo kicks off its new school year with on-campus classes beginning Tuesday, August 30. Among the incoming students, the most popular major is biology: biomedical and health sciences, with 93 students pursuing that degree. Rounding out the top five majors for the new Lions are business (undecided specialization); computer science; criminal justice-criminalistics; and undeclared, with 67 students still deciding what degree to pursue.
Daniel Konesky, president of Saint Leo’s Student Government Union, was welcoming everyone to campus and assisting students and families as they checked in at the university’s parking garage. “I'm looking forward to showing the new student body and the existing student body why I love this university and why they should too,” Konesky said. “My greatest advice I can offer is to use college as a great networking tool; get to know anybody and everybody that you can. Also, something you should always remember is that there was never a cowboy who could not be thrown and never a horse who could not be rode. No matter how hard it gets, keep at it because you can achieve anything.”
University President Ed Dadez also welcomed new as well as returning students and encouraged them to become involved in campus life. “I hope these new students truly enjoy their college experience, get involved in campus activities, study hard, and give back to their communities. I’m looking forward to being a part of their educational journey,” Dadez said.
Orientation leaders Timiah Forbes, a senior hospitality management major from The Bahamas, and Widna Simon, a junior accounting and hospitality major from Haiti, were on hand to welcome students and their families. Both were excited about the “big events” that will be held this year including some during New Student Orientation and Welcome Week. From events such as Kick Back at the Lake to Club Leo and Glow Night, and from Freshmen Bingo to Movie Night, many activities are planned to welcome Saint Leo University students to their new home.