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Cape resident valedictorian at Saint Leo University

May 17, 2019
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Angela Lazzaro, a 23-year-old woman raised in Cape Coral, was named valedictorian at the Saint Leo University commencement held for undergraduates at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Saturday, April 27.

Lazzaro graduated with a bachelor of science degree in research and experimental psychology and a 4.0 grade point average. Her achievement put her at the top of the Class of 2019 undergraduates who studied for their bachelor's degree at the main campus of the Catholic university, a group of about 420 people. Saint Leo University's home campus is located in the east Pasco County community of St. Leo, about 35 miles north of Tampa.

Lazzaro earned another prestigious campus academic honor earlier in April, the university's Clara McDonald Olson Scholastic Excellence Award. This honor is given annually to a student who has studied at the main campus for all four years, has been recognized by faculty as exhibiting the "qualities of a true scholar," and has the highest four-year grade average at that point.

Article Photos

Bill Speer for Saint Leo University

Angela Lazzaro, right, accepts her valedictorian medal from Dr. Mary T. Spoto, vice president of academic affairs at Saint Leo University.

Her valedictorian status was confirmed internally at the university the day before commencement, when calculations of the final semester and overall grades were completed. University leaders made the public announcement during the morning commencement ceremony. Lazzaro was surprised to hear her own name called, she said, because "I always assumed there was some someone ahead of me. I know that everyone in my class worked so hard and did their best."

Looking back at that moment, Lazzaro said later, "I feel so blessed as I remember walking up to receive the medal with my family, friends, and classmates cheering me on."

Part of the surprise might have been due to the outlook she adopted. She chose not to focus single mindedly on "the perfect 4.0," she said, but on doing her best and remembering to appreciate all the aspects of college life that were important to her. "The friendships, family events, classes, diversity, and caring professors made Saint Leo University my home away from home."

She gained entry-level professional experience, as well. During her final year at Saint Leo, Lazzaro completed a laboratory internship in Tampa at the University of South Florida Center for Excellence in Aging and Brain Repair. She presented college work at two regional psychology conferences during her studies.

She intends to pursue graduate studies in psychology after some time in the workforce and would eventually like to earn a doctoral degree.

Lazzaro graduated from Sacred Heart of Jesus Private School, an independent Catholic school, in 2013. She completed high school a year early. She spent the next two years continuing to work at her family's business in Cape Coral before enrolling at Saint Leo in the fall of 2015. The Lazzaro family attends St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church in Cape Coral.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is a modern Catholic teaching university grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. Saint Leo University is a private, nonprofit institution that is regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate. The university is in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 12,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states. Visit ( for additional information.



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