Family Finds a Second Home at Saint Leo

John and Rosa Wall with their son George ’16John and Rosa Wall with their son George ′16.

When John and Rosa Wall put down a deposit for their son George’s college education at a school on the east coast of Florida, they thought the long search that had taken them to more than a dozen schools was finally over.

Then George’s teacher at Cardinal Mooney High School in Sarasota urged him to consider her own alma mater, and the couple agreed to arrange one last trip: to Saint Leo’s University Campus.

“When we arrived to pick up George after his overnight visit, his first words were ‘I’ve found home!’ ” says John. Over the next four years, John and Rosa would come to realize: so had they.

After retrieving their deposit from the other school, they say they never looked back. Since then John, a retired CPA, and Rosa, an accountant, have been deeply involved in the life of the Saint Leo community.

“In one form or another, John and I have been volunteers, mentors, chaperones, advisors, and coaches,” says Rosa. “Saint Leo makes it easy to be a part of the good work that takes place here. It’s very much an extended family that welcomes the love you have to offer.”

Their involvement began quite literally on day one. While accompanying George to a Summer Send-Off for new Saint Leo students, John and Rosa signed up for the Parents’ Advisory Council, a group of volunteer parents who serve as ambassadors for students and their families. They found the experience so enjoyable they eventually opted to stretch their two-year term into four.

“Whenever we are on campus, we invariably run into faculty or administrators who recognize us and ask about George. This school knows its students, listens to its students. That is very special, and it’s what makes Saint Leo, Saint Leo!” John says.

The product of 16 years of Catholic education, John is convinced that the best universities embrace the insights that come from families and faith.

“A good quality education combines academics with loving guidance. It’s up to us, as parents, to support institutions, like Saint Leo, that foster values in our sons and daughters,” he continues.

In April 2016, George walked across the graduation stage, capping off a four-year journey of discovery that swept along his entire family. John and Rosa hope other Saint Leo parents will remain open to a similar experience and allow themselves to get involved in ways they might never have expected.

“Volunteering and supporting Saint Leo has always brought rewards that are far greater than any effort we put forth,” says John. “And I can tell you from personal experience that all the parents we have met over the past four years feel exactly the same way.”

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