Student Advisors are a key resource to you while you are a student at Saint Leo. These professionals are committed to helping you on your journey to earn your undergraduate degree. All Student Advisors hold either undergraduate or graduate degrees, many of them earned in online learning environments. So they know what you’re going through and how to help. Consider them your main contact person for all things Saint Leo.
Hometown: New York, New York
Education: Bachelors in Political Science, MS in Criminal Justice
Hobbies: Yelping, shopping, traveling, dogs, listening to true crime podcasts
Bianli is passionate about higher education and assisting students throughout their educational careers. She started off as an undergraduate enrollment counselor and is now a graduate advisor at Saint Leo University. The best part of the job for Bianli is getting to meet new students and becoming part of their educational journey. She enjoys helping others see their potential and overcome obstacles, and is very much looking forward to attending the commencement ceremonies of her students. If Bianli was not an advisor, she would be a travel and food documentarian, à la Anthony Bourdain.
Hometown: Queens, New York
Education: B.A. Communication Studies, SUNY at Oswego; M.Ed. Southwestern Oklahoma State University
As an army wife of 24 years, Donna lived in about a half a dozen states before coming to Florida. She previously served as a K-12 special education teacher and Florida Career College educator before joining the team at Saint Leo. She is quite proud of the service she provides to associate and bachelor degree-seeking students in the criminal justice field. In addition to her students, Donna enjoys her co-workers at the university. Her co-workers love her too, especially when she brings in homemade candy to share.
Hometown: Southington, Connecticut
Education: BS. University Studies, Texas Tech University; MBA: Sports Business, Saint Leo University
Favorite Food: Chicken wings
Alexis first became interested in advising while working as a Student Advisor Intern with the Louisiana State University Football Team. Alexis likes to see the core values of Saint Leo University in practice. In her experience, Alexis has found that the faculty and staff at Saint Leo are willing to work beyond the scope of their role to best meet the needs of students. Alexis now strives to be the advisor she needed when she was in school. Her favorite part of the role is hearing the genuine excitement in the voices of her students.
Debra holds a B.A. degree in Dance from the University of Washington, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Seattle Pacific University, and an Ed.D. from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. She also holds a Florida Department of Education Professional Educator’s Certificate, certification as a Clinical Educator, and certification in Instructional Design.
Debra’s professional experience includes over 25 years in education, including seven years as a principal in a private school and the director of a tutoring center. Additionally, Debra’s experience includes teaching and advising in higher education.
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Education: B.A. International Affairs, Rollins College
Years ago, when Courtney caught the adventure bug, she traveled to Japan to teach English for one year. Her classes were comprised of diverse, adult Japanese people looking to strengthen their English language skills to better themselves in their work environment. In the same spirit of educating students and helping them succeed, Courtney joined Saint Leo hoping to lay a path for students to follow to help them earn their degree. She understands the limited time of her students and does her best to make sure they are on track to graduation. The sense of community that is alive and well at Saint Leo is Courtney’s favorite aspect of her job. Courtney is nurturing, optimistic, and off-the-beaten path with creative projects.
Hometown: Palm Harbor, Florida
Education: BS Educational Studies and Community Leadership, St Petersburg College
Hobbies: Spending time with her 2 kids, live sporting events, concerts and comedy clubs.
Cheryl Edwards came to Saint Leo University from her alma mater, St. Petersburg College where she was an Academic Advisor in the Student Support Services Program. Cheryl has always worked in education in one capacity or another; starting out as an interpreter for the deaf in the Pinellas County School System many years ago. Cheryl has two children, and in her free time she enjoys going to comedy clubs, concerts, and experiencing fine dining. Cheryl is an avid fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Boston Celtics and Florida State football and basketball, and she enjoys going to live sporting events any time she has the chance!
Hometown: Springfield, Massachusetts
Education: B.S. Business Administration with a Major in Human Resources and Minor in Psychology – American International College
Hobbies: Arts and crafts, DIY home projects, and spending quality time with family.
Rhonda brings to Saint Leo 6 years of student advising experience in higher education in addition to a background of 6 years in career placement services, assisting individuals of diverse backgrounds with barriers to employment and education. She also serves as a youth instructor in her local church community. Her love of learning and serving others is what gives her the tenacity to encourage students to believe in their potential to be successful in spite of the challenges they may face while pursuing their educational goals.
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Education: B.A. Corporate Communication, Northern Illinois University
Hobbies: Sports, road biking, beach volleyball, growing his music collection, extensive travelling, hiking 14ers, keeping up on health and wellness trends
Staying fit and healthy is something Steve takes very seriously in his personal and professional life. Steve spent four years in the Navy and is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist. He has worked in online education for about 10 years. He enjoys his work and enjoys seeing students overcome obstacles to achieve their goals. Steve enjoys the working in the team environment in his office. He is competitive, detail-oriented, and analytical. Students can be sure that Steve will help keep their educational journey in good shape at Saint Leo.
Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota
Education: Bachelors in Mass Communications with a minor in Marketing, St. Cloud State University
Hobbies: Weightlifting, biking, playing tennis, going to the beach, watching TV shows about nature and survival and I’m a huge Minnesota Vikings fan.
Chris brings more than six years of advising experience to Saint Leo University. Chris enjoys helping online adult learners achieve their goal of earning their degree. His interest in motivating students drew Chris to the advising industry, where he discovered that he is equally inspired by the students he advises. If Chris wasn’t a Student Advisor, he would likely be the Minnesota Vikings mascot.
Hometown: Queens, New York
Education: BFA in Broadcast Journalism, MS in School Counseling, certifications in MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) and SII (Strong Interest Inventory)
Hobbies: Adventure-seeking activities, travelling, reading, and trying new wines.
Alex has worked in higher education for more than 14 year as a career advisor, an undergraduate advisor, and now graduate advisor at Saint Leo University. For Alex, the best part of working with students is to become part of their educational journey. She enjoys helping students identify career and academic needs and strives to be a resource to them as well as a support system throughout their academic studies. One of her most rewarding moments as an advisor was to help a student challenged by an event in the past to overcome the obstacle and find a better job than they previously envisioned! If she was not an advisor, Alex might be found traveling the world, enjoying the chance to experience new cultures, people, foods, and lands.
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
Education: B.A. in Sociology, M.S. in Human Services with a Counseling concentration
Hobbies: Exercising, reading, shopping, listening to music, watching movies, and spending time with family
Sophina is driven to help her students succeed through her work as an enrollment counselor and now an advisor for Saint Leo University. Her outgoing personality, sensible outlook, and humor have been beneficial to the graduate students she serves. Sophina loves helping others and can empathize with the challenges grad students face on their education journey. The best part of the job for Sophina is getting the chance to meet new students and to build rapport with them. She enjoys the friendly atmosphere as well as the core values exemplified through the university, and takes pride in watching students overcome obstacles to persist in their education. If she was not a student advisor, Sophina would like to be a teacher.
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Education: B.S. Sports Entertainment and Event Management, Johnson and Wales University; M.B.A., Saint Leo University
Hobbies: Traveling, working out, nature
Renelda will tell you she didn’t have a life when she was earning her M.B.A. at Saint Leo University. She worked full time and completed class work during lunch hours. She learned to manage her time well to remain dedicated to her studies. Because of her experience, Renelda hopes to motivate and help her busy students succeed regardless of their life stage or work load. She believes that nothing in life is easy and that dedication and hard work will pay off. Consider Renelda your own motivational speaker, a role she enjoys in addition to student advising.
Hometown: Jonesville, Virginia
Education: B.A. History, Berea College, Berea, KY.
Hobbies: Reading, playing video games, making planner templates and stickers, bowling.
Renee has worked in higher education for almost 20 years in both Admissions and Advising. Renee enjoys working with people. Assisting students and their families throughout their higher educational experience is why she choose her career in education. If she did not work in student advising, Renee would enjoy working as a museum curator.
Hometown: Cedar Grove, Jamaica
Education: B.S. Education, University of South Florida
Hobbies: Playing basketball, flag football, and reading
Johnathan brings three years of advising experience to Saint Leo University and he recently served as the Program Director for the Tampa YMCA. Becoming an advisor has enabled Johnathan to pay it forward and become a positive part of someone’s success story in the same way that others have done for him. Johnathan takes a business approach to student advising and if he wasn’t an advisor, he would be an entrepreneur. Johnathan thins outside of the box to create strategies that turn apprehensive students into success stories. A fun fact about Johnathan is that he loves to sing even though most people don’t appreciate his singing talents!
Hometown: Bronx, New York
Education: B.S. in Management Information Systems, MBA with concentrations in Human Resource Management and Sports Business
Hobbies: Personal training, CrossFit, anything health and wellness related, and spending time with family
Before coming to Saint Leo, Leslie worked in the health care field where she became passionate about customer service. Leslie enjoys assisting students on their journey of education, and strives to be a support system throughout their entire journey. She appreciates working with students and helping them find solutions when problems arise. She is especially proud of one tenacious MBA student who overcame many hurdles, including job loss and a car accident, to persevere and graduate on time. Leslie truly gets to know her students and does whatever she can to make sure they reach their educational goals. If Leslie was not an advisor, she would entertain as a singer!
Hometown: New Fairfield, Connecticut
Education: B.A. in Organizational Communication, MBA with a Human Resource Management concentration
Hobbies: Spending time with family and watching sports
Matt has served Saint Leo University for over three years as an advisor for graduate students. With a background in recruiting, sales, and customer service, Matt works well in the fast-paced style of student advising. Matt appreciates the opportunity to assist students with their educational journey. A proud advising moment for Matt was to help a student in extreme circumstances to come up with a plan for success and to watch that student graduate with an excellent GPA. Outside of work, Matt enjoys spending time with family and watching sports. If he was not a student advisor, Matt might pursue a career as a food critic.
Deborah Rumsey (Debby)
Hometown: Deerfield, Illinois
Education: BS in Marketing and a BS in Education from Indiana University, Master in Education from USF
Hobbies: Scuba diving, gardening, going to the beach, reading, and hiking
Before taking on the role of student advisor, Debby worked in management, secondary education, and university enrollment. Debby greatly enjoys helping students realize and achieve their dream of earning a degree from a fantastic university. She appreciates that everyone on the advising team is willing to pitch in and help one another, a display of the core values of Saint Leo University. If Debby were not advising students, she would love to be a Dive Master. Debby is already a Master Diver, which is the highest level a diver can achieve without becoming a Dive Master – and she’s pretty proud of that!
Hometown: Saddle Brook, New Jersey
Education: MA Mental Health Counseling, Caldwell University, Caldwell, NJ
Hobbies: Tap dance, eating, reality TV
Prior to Saint Leo, Diane helped students on their career paths as a career counselor. Being a student for many, many years herself, Diane loves working with students in any capacity. Her favorite part of assisting students is being able to help them accomplish their academic goals while being a support and resource in any way she can. If Diane is not in the office, she is probably on a flight to New Orleans. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Education: Business & Management, University of Maryland University College; Currently pursuing his Masters of Education at Northcentral University.
Hobbies: Going to the movies, Surfing the Internet, Gaming, and Hanging out with family and friends.
Lavell has a passion for sports and supports all of his hometown teams. Lavell has served in the United States Army for 3 years and has traveled from Germany to France, Poland, United Kingdom, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Kuwait, Africa, and Afghanistan. Lavell is laid-back, positive, friendly and is a true believer of Karma. Lavell has worked in higher education for over 20 years, and relishes at the opportunity to help students reach their educational goals.