At SLU-Madrid, we encourage you to become the best version of yourself.
In the spirit of the Jesuit tradition, our Student Life team believes in caring for and educating the whole person; we are concerned with the life of the mind, body and spirit. We facilitate programs, services and experiences that help students become leaders who are critically reflective and socially aware.
Most importantly, we are committed to offering top-quality services to our students, supporting them and offering opportunities for them to succeed in college.
We are here to help.
Office of Student Life Staff
Director, Office of Student Life
Ashley Jost joined the SLU-Madrid campus in January 2023 from the campus in St. Louis, Missouri, which is where she was born and raised. She earned her bachelor's degree in communication from Truman State University, and is working on a master's degree in the same field.
Ashley is a former newspaper reporter, covering mostly higher education across Missouri, but also business, crime and local or state government/politics. After journalism, she transitioned into higher education, working for the University of Missouri and then Saint Louis University's campus in St. Louis. She moved to Madrid with her best friend in the whole world, her senior dog, Mo.
Office of Student Life Assistant
Sharrad was born in Far Rockaway, Queens, New York. He attended Nassau Community College on Long Island, New York, where he received his Associate Degree in Liberal Arts. He later received his undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in sociology from Queens College, City University of New York. After obtaining this degree, he worked with a team of substance-abuse counselors and on-staff psychologists as a psychiatric attendant at South Oaks Hospital in Amityville, New York, for one year. He later attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, where he received his Master's in Public Administration, specializing in management and operations. Since 1998, Sharrad has worked primarily in the business and finance sector in New York City.
Starting from the position of bank teller at 19, Sharrad was eventually elevated to supervisory positions in commercial banking. He has held positions ranging from supervisor to assistant manager and finally lead department manager at Apple Bank for Savings, where he helped implement the company's Depositor Services Department. Sharrad's passion for higher education and personal growth and development inspired him to move to Madrid in January 2018, where he worked as an English teacher for a language academy for over four years. He joined the Office of Student Life team at Saint Louis University in the summer of 2022.
Office of Student Life Assistant
Zahra Ohldin was born and raised all over the U.S. and has also lived in Argentina and Sweden before moving to Spain. While studying at the University of Buenos Aires, she researched the socio-cultural impact of the "Disappeared" in contemporary Argentinian society in the areas of film, community activism and collective memory. She interned at the Itaú Foundation and the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, and activism and volunteer work has been part of her life ever since. She graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in Spanish language and literature and psychology.
With a background in community organizing and youth advocacy, Zahra began her professional career as a program empowerment director for The DREAM Program while serving in Americorps. She went on to lead summer community programming for children, teaching English to adult learners and working as a liaison to families within schools, as a social media content creator, and as a grant writer.
After moving to Spain, Zahra worked as a preschool and primary teacher in Madrid, continued to teach English to adults, taught dance to children in after-school programs and led cultural immersion experiences throughout Spain with summer student travel programs.
Zahra joined SLU-Madrid in 2022, working as a receptionist and providing administrative support to the Department of Finance and Operations, and transitioned to the Office of Student Life in 2023.
James O'Leary, S.J.
James O'Leary, S.J., is a native of Chicago. He entered the Jesuits in 1981. After being ordained a Catholic priest in 1991, he lived in Peru, where he worked in popular education and jail ministry. He has been the campus chaplain and a professor of theology at SLU-Madrid since 2007.
César Rioja was born and raised in Madrid. He earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. For six seasons, César played guard for the Movistar Estudiantes as a professional basketball player in the Spanish Asociación de Clubes de Baloncesto League (ACB, "the Spanish NBA"). He also played on the Spanish National Team. Since 1999, César has been the Sports Director at SLU-Madrid, where he is also the current academic advisor for all the athletes registered at SLU-Madrid. César assists all SLU-Madrid students wanting to participate in the more than 20 sports offered at the university.
In his free time, he really enjoys being active through sports and reading good books. Another passion of his is coaching our students on the basketball court, as well as spending time with them and getting to know them off the court as he believes that we can all learn a great deal from each other. He loves helping students, faculty, and staff enjoy physical activity and make their lives a little better through sports. His SLU family is also something that he also loves very much and appreciates coming to work every day with such a wonderful community.
Outside of SLU, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children and volunteering with several NGOs.
Office of Student Life Assistant
Victoria Taylor was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Queens College, City University of New York, earning her bachelor's degree in English literature. After graduating, she worked as an activities specialist at the Science and Medicine School in Brooklyn, New York. Her main role was to organize events and activities for the students after school.
In fall 2013, in search of a new adventure, Victoria set her sights on Madrid and was awarded a one-year teaching grant from the Comunidad de Madrid to teach English to secondary students. She loved the experience so much that she decided to stay — and taught English in various bilingual schools in the heart of Madrid until 2019.
In June 2022, Victoria earned her master's degree in multicultural and bilingual education from the Teach & Learn Program at the University of Alcalá.
In her spare time, Victoria volunteers her time and services to the arts through Art Spoken Madrid.
Beatrice Torres de Azcárraga
Beatrice Torres de Azcárraga joined the SLU-Madrid campus in February 2023. She was born in Fresno, California and has lived in Madrid for over 20 years with her husband and their two sons. She graduated from the University of Houston-Downtown with a bachelor's degree in business administration-accounting. She has worked as a financial aid and career services advisor for other American universities.