By Mitchel Clow ’13
A standing-room-only crowd in the Sarazen Student Union erupted on Saturday night, February 9 when history major Andrew Ford ’13 was crowned Mr. Siena. Ford won the annual contest, a beauty pageant of sorts, which gives eight men from Siena College a chance to show off their talent to benefit Habit for Humanity, an organization that has helped to build or repair more than 600,000 affordable houses for low-income people. The international organization was founded in 1976 and has served more than three million people worldwide.
The Habitat for Humanity Club’s annual fundraiser quickly sold out as it has done consistently in recent years. It was co-chaired by Emily Hoffman ’14 and Matt Schiesel ’15. All of the money from ticket sales supports Siena’s Habitat for Humanity service trips and the Capital District Habitat for Humanity affiliate. A Siena group traveled to Haiti in January, and four more trips are planned for Spring Break when students and volunteers will work on Habitat sites in Kentucky, South Carolina and two locations in North Carolina.
To earn the Mr. Siena crown, Ford became a “one man boy-band,” singing a mix of songs from pop artists past and present. Ford opened his act wearing a friar’s robe which he quickly shed once Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” blared through the speakers. He ripped through multiple tracks, showcasing his impressive talent in a wide vocal range and a variety of musical styles.
Ford’s hottest competition won accolades as well. Biology major Shayne Cronin ’16 performed to perfection a dub-step number with his fellow members of Siena’s Dance Team. Cronin’s performance earned him “Best Talent.” Fans of his head-spinning, ground-stomping action will be pleased to know that Cronin expressed strong interest in auditioning for next year’s contest.
This year’s runner-up, economics major James Aroka ’13, was making his second appearance on the Mr. Siena stage. He was shocked to receive an award this time around. Aroka didn’t think he was going to win anything when the sashes were given out. However, his hip-hop dance medley must have won over the hearts of the judges, earning him bragging rights next to Ford.
The last competitor to win an award was accounting major Adam Mihalek ’14, who was dubbed “Mr. Congeniality.” Mihalek’s talent performance was a mock ballet, in which he danced around comically in a tutu, complete with plies and flutter kicks. The Mr. Congeniality award is unique because the other contestants rather than the judges choose the winner. The honor served as a testament to Mihalek’s amiable personality.
Along with the talent portion, the Mr. Siena pageant includes a “Habitat wear” and a fashion runway component. Competitors create short, humorous skits demonstrating the international group’s mission. Then the men don formal wear and are accompanied on stage by dress-clad women of their choosing.
In true pageant fashion, each contestant was then questioned by the emcees, Director of the Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy Fr. Russel Murray, O.F.M., Ph.D. and Mr. Siena 2012 Ryan Murphy ’14. Answers to questions like “What made you choose Siena?” and “What do you think about Habitat for Humanity’s mission?” ranged from “the food” to “heartwarming,” respectively.
While Ford was ultimately crowned Mr. Siena, the true winners are all of the people who will be helped through the funds raised to benefit Habitat for Humanity.