Alumni recognized for college success, charity participation

Even after graduating, some Eastern students are recognized for their collegiate successes. Mike Leon is one of those students.

Leon graduated in December of 2010 as a journalism major with a public relations concentration. In the spring of 2010 he was nominated by his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, as a notable senior. Recently this nomination has earned Leon the Vollinger Outstanding Senior Award from Sigma Phi Epsilon for all of Illinois.

Leon gained this nomination by being involved in many activities at Eastern in addition to his class work. This includes his charity, “Flexing for a Cause.”

Leon said he created the charity near the end of his participation in the bantam weight division of the annual Mr. EIU contest.

Mr. EIU is a body-building contest, but participants also create t-shirts to help raise money.

“I started selling the shirts near the last minute but they sold very fast,” Leon said. “After that I just decided to see how many I could sell for charity. It was really kind of random almost.”

Leon said that the shirts continued to sell well partly because of his connections with Eastern’s fraternities and sororities. He was also able to earn funds from local businesses that sponsored the charity and in return had their names placed on the shirts.

Through “Flexing for a Cause” Leon initially earned $600 for the Children’s Advocacy Center in Charleston. The center focuses on helping children who have been physically or sexually abused.

In addiction to Leon’s charity work and three consecutive wins in Mr. EIU, he was also active in numerous events with his fraternity.

Leon said that he was the front man for his team in the Greek week tug-of-war competition and was also one of the first men to coach for the air band competition.

“We usually hire a dance coach or student to help with the air band competition,” Leon said. “I’ve always admired people who could dance. This experience kind of made me realize I could do it.”

Leon said that his work as coach led him to one of his most memorable experiences at Eastern. He said during the homecoming pep rally he would participate in a mascot competition involving a hip-hop dance routine. Leon won the competition three years in a row and would usually incorporate the homecoming theme into his dance.

Currently, Leon said he is doing whatever public relations work he can. He said he hopes one day he can move on to corporate PR and work for one company.

“One thing I’m still trying to figure out about myself is that I look at stuff that I admire and I think, ‘I can realistically do that.’ Everything I do I approach this way. I haven’t really failed at anything yet,” Leon said.

Seth Schroeder can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].