Photos by Dev Mehta
Fourteen contestants flaunted their talents and tuxedo tails at Alpha Phi’s annual Mr. University men’s beauty pageant Thursday night in front of about 300 people in Memorial Hall.
The contestants raised what is expl40r.ected to be more than $20,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Alpha Phi Foundation.
Sophomore business major and Delta Tau Delta (Delt) member and representative Tim O’Leary was crowned Mr. University after collecting approximately $4,000 in donations since the beginning of November. Contestants raised money through an online donation portal, collecting change and hosting personal fundraising events.
Video by Katherine Leon and Kelsey Kloss.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes, usually costing between $3,000 and $5,000, to children with life-threatening illnesses. The Alpha Phi Foundation offers leadership training, scholarships and crisis relief for Alpha Phi members and advocates to improve women’s cardiac health nationwide. The money raised from the event will be split evenly between the two foundations.
“It was wonderful to spread the word about Make-A-Wish because it’s an American foundation,” O’Leary said. “I met a lot of people through my travels, and I had a really strong supporting base from all around the world with donors.” O’Leary, originally from Phuket, Thailand, sang “House of the Rising Sun” for his talent with sophomore communication studies major Renz Lorenzo. Pageant points were determined by the amount of money contestants raised and their stage performances, which included swimsuit, tuxedo evening wear, talent and Q&A segments.
“I feel on top of the world. It’s such an honor,” O’Leary said. “It’s really warm and welcoming of them to let someone who’s not from here win. It all just clicked on stage and we were lucky.”
Sophomore strategic and corporate communications major Jillian Hunt, an Alpha Phi director of philanthropy, said the sorority will not know the final amount of money raised until the week of Dec. 10.
“After finals, the online donations, bucket amounts and silent auction items that can be up to $1,000 will be calculated,” Hunt said. “Our goal was to be able to grant three wishes and we most likely did. It looks like we raised more than last year when we granted two wishes, but I can’t say for sure.”
Senior anthropology major and an Alpha Phi director of philanthropy Shae Kong said every contestant raised at least $500.
Kong said the production cost of Mr. University would normally be around $5,000, but Gothic Moon Productions and 24 Productions offered discounted prices so Alpha Phi could put on the show for less than $2,000, which was paid for by the chapter’s annual budget.
This year’s competition featured judges Jerry Price, vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students, San Diego State University Alpha Phi president Ciara Pavia, and Make-a-Wish representative Marissa Mendoza. It was the first time Mr. University’s judges were not all Alpha Phi members or alumni.
Mendoza said the local chapter of Make-A-Wish grants an average of 325 wishes a year in Orange County and the Inland Empire. She said a major portion of supporters come from academic organizations.
The first runner-up was senior political science and communication studies major Kaz Koltai, a Delt member representing Phi Sigma Sigma, who read an excerpt from “50 Shades of Grey” in an Alan Rickman voice for his talent. The second runner-up was Delta Gamma representative and Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) member Kamyaar Butt, a sophomore business major who sang the One Direction song “What Makes You Beautiful.”
Senior public relations and advertising major Blaire Tolentino said the show was comic relief during an otherwise stressful time of the semester.
“Everyone’s stressed with finals but we came and laughed and it was worth it,” she said. “It’s a fun thing to do.”