Note about sensitive content: this story discusses mental health and suicide. If you or someone you know has mental health issues or suicidal thoughts, please call or text 9-8-8. Current Main Campus Post students can also contact the Counseling Center (firstname.lastname@example.org) or dial 203.228.8706 for crisis assistance.
The dean of the Malcolm Baldrige School of Business opens a can with his teeth. A student in the honours program performs a cover of the Lewis Capaldi ballad “Before You Go.” A walking handstand performed by a student-athlete.
A business administration major impersonating Michael Jackson, the late King of Pop. These were just a few impressive talents on display at the first annual Mr. Eagle Competition, which took place on January 23, 2023. The 2023 competition, sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA) and held in honour of the Jordan Porco Foundation, raised awareness for men’s mental health and $10,000 for the foundation.
The foundation was founded in 2011 by Ernie and Marisa Porco after their son Jordan committed suicide as a college freshman. Its mission is to help prevent suicide, promote mental health, and create a message of hope for young adults.
Marisa Porco, co-founder and president of Post, who attended the competition, expressed her gratitude to organizations like Post and groups like the SGA for hosting events and programs that help educate about mental health and wellness in unique and innovative ways.
“It’s always nice to be with students and see how things have changed in the 12 years since my son died,” Porco said. “We all know there is a stigma associated with men seeking help, and it’s encouraging to see how openly we’re discussing mental health, particularly men’s mental health.”
The planning for the fundraiser began in the fall semester of 2022. The SGA Executive Board wanted to help educate the University community about a topic that was both relevant to students and directly impacted a local nonprofit.
They wanted to do it in a fun and unique way that was also tasteful. Fresh Check Day is a signature program.
The Jordan Porco Foundation was chosen because of its programming centred on men’s mental health and young adult wellness, and the Mr. Eagle Competition fulfilled both of those desires. Post participates in the foundation’s signature program, Fresh Check Day, each fall.
“It was a way for us as a group 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,” said Kaitlyn Sharkey, a junior Equine Studies major and SGA Parliamentarian. “It was critical to band together to support a cause larger than yourself.”
Two of our academic deans, an alumnus, and an
an associate from the Athletics department and several students competed in three rounds of competition: a suit walk, a talent show, and a costume walk. MBA student and SGA President Niko Grollman stated in his invitation to the community that the contestants exemplify the qualities of Mr. Eagle.
“The contestants are students and community members who embody Mr. Eagle’s true qualities,” Grollman wrote. “They demonstrate respect, strong leadership abilities, dedication to the University community, and authenticity.”
During the competition’s two intermissions, students shared information about men’s mental health and strategies for de-stigmatizing emotional expression. They also discussed the resources and support available throughout the University community and beyond.
“I always say, ‘It’s okay not to be okay,'” Porco explained. We must take care of our mental health in the same way that we do our physical health. Even if you are not currently experiencing difficulties, knowing who and what resources are available in your community is beneficial.
The competition concluded with two contestants taking first place. Based on his judge’s scores and donation votes, Junior Sport Management major Joseph Seminatore was named Audience Favorite. Anthony Monteiro, Assistant Equipment Manager and Post Alumnus, was named Mr. Eagle 2023 after receiving the most donation votes.
Porco understands the significance of young people spreading the message of hope and support. Events like the Mr Eagle Competition demonstrate how the work she and her husband began over a decade ago positively impacts college students and their communities.
“It means everything to me to see young adults banding together for a cause close to my heart,” she said. “The messaging is coming from the youth, which is important.”