Ellen Pagliaro: Giving Back Builds “Wave of Goodness”

Ellen Pagliaro with Son T.J. and Dr. Lennox

Ellen Pagliaro loves the person she has become at Saint Leo.

On its own, this claim might evoke little surprise among the university’s 15,800 current students and 80,000 alumni. The feeling is, after all, a familiar one.

What is far more surprising is that Ellen Pagliaro isn’t a Saint Leo University alumna or even a student. In fact, she has never taken a single course at the university.

Ellen is instead a proud Saint Leo mother and a grateful ambassador for a university that she says changes parents as much as it changes students.

“I never grow tired of sharing what an amazing experience Saint Leo has been for my family, academically, spiritually, socially and emotionally,” says Ellen, whose son, T.J., graduated in April with the Class of 2016.  “This is a true family, a true community. That’s why we’ve made giving back a priority.”

Ellen first discovered Saint Leo in 2009, when the university mailed literature to her son, Frank. Although Frank ultimately chose a different college, Ellen was drawn to Saint Leo’s Benedictine heritage and showed the brochures to her younger son, T.J., then a high school freshman.

Within a year, T.J. had signed up for summer baseball camp at University Campus in Florida.

“He played in 106-degree heat and loved every minute of it! We decided right then and there to take a prospective student tour,” says Ellen.

Although mother and son were sold on Saint Leo, T.J.’s father, Anthony, was concerned that Florida was too far from the family’s Massachusetts home. The following summer, T.J. once again signed up for baseball camp, but when an unexpected illness kept Ellen at home, Anthony made the trip to University Campus. He returned with a single verdict: “Wow!”

“Saint Leo University became T.J.’s first choice, and ours,” Ellen says.

She decided to put the school at the forefront of her volunteer efforts and was surprised by how quickly she and Anthony were welcomed as members of an extended family. By the time T.J. left Cape Cod to begin his first year at University Campus, Ellen was teaming up with other local parents to host get-togethers for new and prospective students and their families. 

“I couldn’t wait to share my enthusiasm as the parent of a student who was ‘over the moon happy’ with his decision.”

Ellen continued to assist with local events over the next four years but also carried her love for Saint Leo beyond the Cape Cod shores. She twice made the four-hour drive to New York City to march with other Saint Leo families in the annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade.

She says it is worth her time and effort to contribute to the “wave of goodness” that flows from Saint Leo.

Seeing that hope and excitement spread out into the world is absolutely why Saint Leo is such a great investment and a worthy recipient of a person’s time and gifts.

She says she and her husband now realize the school that seemed so far away had always been near, and she hopes other parents will get involved no matter where they are in the world.

In a small way or a big way, get involved: attend an event, hire a grad, mentor a student, give of your treasure. The more we support Saint Leo, the bigger the wave of goodness grows.”

For Ellen, that commitment is one that didn’t end with the 2016 spring commencement.

“This past Christmas, T.J. said to me, ‘Mom, I wish I could do my four years all over again, because it was so great.’ When you see your child that happy, you want to reciprocate those great feelings. That’s why I’ll be a part of Saint Leo for as long as they’ll have me.”

Join Ellen in making Saint Leo great by making a gift today. Every donation, no matter how big or small, makes a difference.


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