Michael Wynn | Social Community Manager
Sensitive content note: this story discusses mental health and suicide. If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health challenges or thoughts of suicide, please call or text 9-8-8. Current Main Campus Post students can also contact the Counseling Center ([email protected]) or call our crisis phone number 203.228.8706.
The Malcolm Baldrige School of Business dean opening a can with his teeth. An honors program student singing a cover of the Lewis Capaldi ballad “Before You Go.” A student-athlete doing a walking handstand. A business administration major dancing like the late-King of Pop, Michael Jackson. These were just some of the impressive talents that were on display at the first annual Mr. Eagle Competition held on January 23, 2023. Sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA) and held in honor of the Jordan Porco Foundation, the 2023 competition not only raised awareness for men’s mental health but also ten thousand dollars for the foundation.
Founded in 2011 by Ernie and Marisa Porco, who lost their son Jordan to suicide when he was a college freshman, the foundation’s mission is to help prevent suicide, promote mental health, and create a message of hope for young adults. Co-Founder and President Marisa Porco, who attended the competition, expressed how grateful she is for organizations like Post and groups like the SGA for hosting events and programs that help to educate about mental health and wellness in unique and innovative ways.
“It’s always nice for me to be with students and to see how things have changed over the last 12 years since my son passed,” Porco said. “We all know there’s a stigma related to men seeking help and it’s nice to see how openly we’re talking about mental health and in particular men’s mental health.”
Planning for the fundraiser began in the fall 2022 semester. The SGA Executive Board was interested in supporting a cause that would help educate the University community about an issue that was both relevant to students and have a direct impact on a local nonprofit. They wanted to do it in a fun and unique, but tasteful way. The Mr. Eagle Competition fulfilled both of those desires, and the Jordan Porco Foundation was selected because of its programming around men’s mental health and young adult wellness. Each fall, Post participates in the foundation’s signature program, Fresh Check Day.
“For us as a group, it was a way to get students involved and put on a production while keeping in mind that men’s mental health is a topic that needs to be focused on,” Junior Equine Studies major and SGA Parliamentarian Kaitlyn Sharkey said. “It was important to come together to support a cause that is bigger than yourself.”
The contestants, which included two of our academic deans, an alumnus and associate from the Athletics department, and several students, participated in three rounds of competition: a suit walk, talent show, and costume walk. In his invitation to the community, MBA student and SGA President Niko Grollman, shared that the contestants represent the qualities of Mr. Eagle.
“The contestants are students and community members who represent the true qualities of Mr. Eagle,” Grollman wrote. “They demonstrate respect, have strong leadership skills, are committed to the University community, and are authentic.”
During the competition’s two intermissions, students shared facts about men’s mental health and strategies on how to destigmatize expressing your feelings. They also talked about the support and resources available throughout the University community and beyond.
“One thing I always say is ‘it’s okay not to be okay,’” Porco shared. Just like we take care of our physical health, we need to take care of our mental health. Even if you’re not struggling now, it’s good to know who and what the resources are in your community.”
The competition concluded with two contestants taking home the top honors. Junior Sport Management major Joseph Seminatore was named Audience Favorite based on his judge’s scores and donation votes. Assistant Equipment Manager and Post Alumnus Anthony Monteiro was named Mr. Eagle 2023, having received the most donation votes.
Porco knows the importance of young people delivering the message of hope and support. Events like the Mr. Eagle Competition show how the work she and her husband started more than a decade ago is positively impacting college students and their communities.
“It means the world to me to see young adults rallying around a cause that’s obviously near and dear to my heart,” she said. “The messaging is coming from the young people which is what our programs are really about.”