Casey J. Cornelius (00:03):
Hey everyone, and welcome to the latest episode of the ForCollegeForLife podcast. My name is Casey Cornelius. I am the founder and president of ForCollegeForLife, and I am also the host of this podcast. Appreciate everyone who’s tuning in today, who’s tuned into all of the episodes in season two of the podcast. If you’ve not gone back to season one and listened to all of those, but also a special thanks to everybody who’s been with us since the beginning. I don’t know how many we’ve done at this point, dozens and dozens, but we appreciate every single time you press play today, have the opportunity to chat with one of our newest speakers someone who is on a deeply personal mission on a topic that’s at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds on college campuses and in organizations across the country.
And we’re gonna dive into some, some deeper topics today. I just, I wanna be honest with you from the very beginning, we’re gonna be diving into some that are, that are pretty hot. Before we get there though, I want to go ahead and tell you a little bit about our guest today, Leo Serrato. So, Leo is the University of Oregon’s assistant Director of fraternity and sorority life, and he is on a personal and professional mission to end hazing in Greek lettered organizations. He’s been working in higher education with fraternities and sororities for the past eight years to help accomplish this mission. As a sp as a speaker, he’s been sharing his personal experience with hazing to ensure that no member ever experiences the trauma involved with hazing in F S L communities across the country. He is a brother of Theta Chi fraternity and proud graduate of Fresno State University here in bachelor’s in psychology and masters in student Affairs and college counseling.
As an undergraduate student, he lived through a nightmare situation for any Greek leader being held responsible for the hazing related death of a member. Ever since that night, he is vowed to do everything in his power to educate fraternity and sorority life leaders on hazing prevention and proactive leadership. I’m certainly gonna get into that deeply on this podcast. Leo’s research has been featured in the Central California Research Symposium, and he has been named outstanding oral presentation. He’s been featured on podcasts, has been named an Advisor of the Year by Pi Kappa Phi. Leo’s mission is to make a difference one campus at a time. He shares his personal, personal story and sheds lights on a side hazing that is not often talked about. Without any further ado, it is my pleasure to bring to the mic none other than Leo Serrano. Leo, thanks for joining the podcast today.
Hello, friend. How are you? Thank you for having me. I’m doing well. I’m doing well, Leo. You know, I, I know we’re going to get into a lot of, lot of deep topics today, right? Like a, like a, a lot that that can be hard. And, and let me ask you this question. When, when you speak to audiences and you know, obviously they know what the titles and everything like that, what, what you’re there to talk about. How do you start, like, how do you start letting them know that we’re going to, we’re gonna get deep?
Leo Serrato (03:10):
You know, I start off by asking for grace. For me personally, being that I am sharing my personal story something that I lived through and continue to live through in my mind. I let them know it’s gonna be hard, and if it causes an emotional response for them to, you know, please excuse themselves because it’s going to cause an emotional response from me. I pretty much a hundred percent of the time cry at every engagement that I go to mm-hmm. <Affirmative> because it, it’s deep and it’s ugly and, you know, it, it just pulls at, it evokes emotions that you didn’t even think were there, but emotions that I live with on a regular basis.
Casey J. Cornelius (04:14):
And, and having, having seen you deliver this message before, you know, it’s, it strikes me on a very human level. That e even though you know precisely the story that you tell and the experience that that you’ve had, it still does touch you on a deep level as well. So tho those tiers are not performative by any stretch of the imagination. The, you, you, you tap into something that’s, that’s for a lack of a better term, that that’s real.
Leo Serrato (04:43):
Mm, mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, yes. Even, even just talking to you about it, like just in these two seconds or however long this was it brings tears to my eyes because like I said, it’s a moment that I relive constantly in my head. And knowing that my lack of knowledge for one on what hazing is and me not using my voice contributed to a student losing their life, a family losing their son. Yeah, it’s, it’s not <laugh>. It’s, it’s not fake. It’s, it’s not something that, so movie producer made up. It’s, it’s my real life. Yeah, it’s something that I have to live with on a daily basis. I call it my Scarlet Letter.
Casey J. Cornelius (05:56):
You know, I think it’s and listen, if, you know, if you’re tuning in and thinking that we’re starting pretty, pretty hard on, on this episode, we are, you know, cuz we’re, we’re gonna be talking, like I said about some, some heavy stuff. But we’re gonna do so in a way that I think puts a very human face on it. So, you know, Leo, let’s, let’s jump in. I mean, can you talk a little bit about the foundational story that guides your work?
Leo Serrato (06:23):
Yes. So as an undergraduate, I I have a unique journey to college. I’m in two junior college right out of high school and went and didn’t really accomplish much. Then I went to a different junior college because I was like, okay, I’m just gonna go play football <laugh>. And again, didn’t accomplish much. And it wasn’t until my mother passed away when I was 24 that I decided I was gonna go back to school and actually focus on school. Being a first generation college student, when I went to Fresno State, I knew almost immediately that a fraternity was something that I wanted to join. Being that I was 24,
Casey J. Cornelius (07:16):
Go ahead. You did know from the beginning
Leo Serrato (07:18):
You did. Yes, I did. I knew that a fraternity was something that I wanted to do but I can’t, I guess if you look at my bachelor’s, it’s psychology. I, I’m a research type of person, so I made sure <laugh> to do a lot of research before going to school at Fresno State. And did a lot of research on the organizations that they had there. I knew that, like I said, I was a first generation college student, that I needed some way to gain connections after college to help me with this new piece of paper that I just paid way too much money for <laugh>. And so I knew I wanted to join a fraternity. I went to a couple of recruitment events and ultimately ended up that deciding that I wanted to be a part of Theta Chi. What actually drew me in to my brothers was we had a member who had a disability and was in a wheelchair.
And the way that I saw these men, young men take care of their brother like there was a fan specifically for him to drive him around to the events. Everybody cared for him and made sure that he never felt less then. And I was like, this is a group of men I want to identify myself with. And so I accepted my bid from Theta Kai and became very involved right off the bat. And one of the positions that I knew I wanted was the new member educator because I loved Theta Kai so much, and I wanted to help bring in and educate the newest members of our organization because I felt like that was the most critical position in the chapter. And so I got to do that. It was my second active semester.
Casey J. Cornelius (09:42):
Oh, so you went from just completing your new member, new member experience to helping new members through their educational experience?
Leo Serrato (09:50):
Yes. So right after I was new member educator, or no, right after I was initiated I became the new member educator assistant. And then I was like, okay, now it’s time to be new member educator. Because I knew, I knew the importance of Theta Kai and I knew how passionate I was when I was learning about it, that I wanted to be able to pass that down. So I, I was like, it’s all or nothing actually went, ran against my big <laugh> and I won. It was very big. Oh, wow. Okay. <laugh>. Okay. but yeah, and so I got to be a new member educator, so I was extremely, extremely excited. And the story, the events of that followed after that not so exciting. So as new member educator, one of the things I was responsible for couple things. The evening after the pledges were penned, so we have our penning, and after penning we took the new members all out to dinner.
And so I had to like arrange the dinner reservations and after dinner we had a party, so I had to go buy all the alcohol for the party. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So at dinner, you know, making sure everyone is following the rules, telling my alumni like, please do not buy these new members alcohol. We are in a public setting, but you’re not 21. Making sure I was following like all the rules, which is kind of funny because I’m such a rule follower and it baffles me that I, I still don’t know how I made the lapses of judgment. And this is over 10 years later and I think about it all the time. So after dinner, we went back to our chapter house and the party started and it was a huge party. We had a bunch of guests, but it was specifically for the new members.
But before they could go to the party, they were put into our chapter room and they were told that they could not leave this room until they had finished all the alcohol in the room. And I thought, I, I did the right thing when I told them, you know, you don’t have to drink if you don’t want to drink. You don’t have to drink for medical reasons, for religious reasons, whatever reason that you don’t want to drink, you don’t have to drink. And I also expressed to them that I don’t drink personally. And so then the events of the night happened, but I didn’t take into account the underlying peer pressure that was there to be the one person out of a pledge class of, I was about 18, 20 to say that I didn’t want to drink. Like, how hard would it have been for an 18, 19 year old who is trying to, for the lack of a better term, prove themselves to be worthy a part of our organization, say, no, I’m not gonna drink tonight. Like, how foolish was, I think that me saying these few words was like, okay, you, you did your job. But I also blame it on my new member education. I remember when I was a new member going to our satellite student union sitting in a little line in my pledge uniform with my pledge class. And how hazy was explained to us was basically hitting the stereotypical stuff that you see on the movies, right? Like, if they hit you, that’s hazing and that’s not okay.
And I remember when I was the new member, assistant the new member educator at the time was like, don’t put your hands on them. So in my mind, for the lack of my education, I thought what we were doing was fine.
Casey J. Cornelius (14:48):
Can I, can I pause there for just a second and ask you just to clarify, especially for maybe those who are listening to this who, who are not as familiar with you know, Greek lettered organizations, fraternity and sorority organizations. So you are in a position of authority, authority for, for the newest members of your organization. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you are, you know, at this point, a non-traditional student. You know, you’re 24, 25 at this point, so older in their eyes as well, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And, and you feel like you’re giving the, the leeway for them to make individual choices. Look, if, if you don’t want to drink, if you have a personal religious obligation that would prevent you so and so on. And then from your own new member experience that hazing is only in the form of physical striking violence. That kind of, so this is kind of the mindset in which you’re in this position as new member educator is, is that, is that fair?
Leo Serrato (15:57):
Yes, absolutely. Okay. Okay.
Casey J. Cornelius (15:59):
Leo Serrato (16:02):
And so the evening goes on and one of the new members is becoming physic, visibly intoxicated. And one of his brothers, his pledge brothers expressed concern about how intoxicated he was getting. And I also knew that his parents were coming the following day because it just happened to be the first Fresno State home game of the season. And they were coming to visit him. And and so I was like, okay, we’re cutting you off. We, we cut him off and we went and took him into the sober room. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And if you listened to any of the news outlets that reported on this they made the sober room seem like it was just somewhere where we threw, threw students into. But it was actually, if you know Fresno in September one of the only rooms in the chapter facility that has AC
Casey J. Cornelius (17:12):
<Laugh>. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
Leo Serrato (17:13):
It’s important. Yeah. and then we also had brothers that were sober monitors and stayed in the room throughout the night. They ran on shifts to make sure that everything was okay. And so like the party ensued. The pledges eventually were released from the chapter room. And I was just doing my rounds, making sure that everyone was being safe, making sure that I had my sober monitors where I needed them, cuz we also had them throughout the entire party. I thought my risk management plan was top-notch. It ran fantastic. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And then later in the evening, one of the sober monitors that was in the bedroom with our new member he was like, Hey Leo, I gotta go to the bathroom. Can I just go pee real quick? And I was like, yeah, sure, it’s fine. He’s like, there’s nobody in here other than our pledge. And so I was like, it’s fine, you’re just gonna go to the bathroom and come right back. He goes to the bathroom, comes back and notices that he’s not breathing. Wow. Yeah.
In, in five minutes, a five minute time span. If that everything changed risk management plan continues to kick in. We shut down the party, kick everybody out. At the same time I’m making phone calls to the police department ambulances on the way. We had brothers in our chapter that were certified in C P R, so they started administering C P R trying to do everyth everything, right. Even though we messed up initially with providing this large amount of alcohol to an 18 year old and peer pressuring them into drinking it. Like we, we, like I said, the risk management plan was executed flawlessly. The police show up and he was taken from the house on a stretcher. They were able to get him to breathe as he was leaving the chapter facility. And I remember walking back after I closed our parking lot gates with one of my brothers. And what he said to me is, what started this mission? Cuz I told him, you know, if for some reason like, we don’t get in too much trouble and our new member survives and everything is fine, I want the rest of this pledged term to be dry.
And he looked at me and said, let’s not any rash decisions. Hmm. And I was <laugh>
Casey J. Cornelius (20:55):
Leo Serrato (20:57):
That, that’s baffling. Like, how can you just witness somebody leaving our chapter facility in an ambulance barely breathing because of alcohol? And you tell me when I tell you I want my pledges to be dry, let’s not make any rash decisions. And that’s when I knew something was wrong in the fraternity and sorority world and I needed to do something to make a difference. And that honestly is what started this charge and this drive in me.
Casey J. Cornelius (21:42):
You know, I I know first of all Leah as a, as a friend, and hopefully anyone who’s listening to this can, can hear it too. I, I know that the, those words seared into your, into your mind and into your spirit, right. Because it, I I think I’ve heard you say this and, and you, you can correct me if this is the, the wrong terminology, but, you know, it was like precisely the wrong, the wrong point of analysis in that moment. Right. That, that we should, we should be cautious about doing anything to improve that we should be cautious about changing anything for the better. Because at, at this point, you’re still sort of unsure about what’s going to happen to this new member
Leo Serrato (22:29):
Casey J. Cornelius (22:31):
Yeah. And your heart immediately went to what can we do to prevent this in the future.
Leo Serrato (22:35):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I was told not to make any rash decisions, <laugh>. And like, I laugh because it’s, it, it baffles me.
Casey J. Cornelius (22:49):
Yeah. I I I don’t want to, I don’t want to give away all of the program right here. For those of you who are interested, by the way, you know, visit forcollegeforlife.com/leo, learn more. But Leo, your, your program identifies that you go from fraternity letters to the inmate numbers.
Leo Serrato (23:13):
Casey J. Cornelius (23:15):
Can, can you tell me what happened?
Leo Serrato (23:19):
Well due to my involvement with the incidents of that night, I was charged criminally with hazing. And I went through a two year trial process. And I hate to say that I was fortunate, but I was fortunate to have an amazing lawyer because my hazing charges started off as felonies. And I just, I think, I think that, I think the judge saw me, maybe heard my words but they were brought down two misdemeanors. And so I was charged with 90 days of jail time multiple fines. And it started off with like the people that you’ll see like in the vests working on like the side of the roads type of thing. Yeah. I was, I can’t remember what it’s called but I was supposed to do that. However, I just had, had back surgery or was gonna have back surgery a month after my sentencing, two months before I was supposed to turn myself into jail. And so they turned it down to community service. So I had like almost a thousand community service hours that I had to complete. So I, I turned myself in on the day that I was supposed to turn myself in and I was in jail for 90 days. And you know, like I told you, my mother had passed away. And I had to turn myself into DA jail on the anniversary of her passing. Hmm. <laugh> that was hard.
Yeah. And my mother passed away in December, so I also got to be in jail during Christmas and New Year’s. So one and only holiday season that I have spent away from my family. And I remember crying, crying in jail. Because when I turned myself in, like I said, I had to have back surgery two months prior. So I was put in a medical wing and I was on crutches because I was a vulnerable population. I was put by myself. And that was hard. I did basically three weeks in solitary confinement and I remember crying. And the only way that I could snap out of it was by just talking to myself. Cause also I had no one else to talk to, but thinking, this isn’t horrible. You are fine. You are alive.
Casey J. Cornelius (27:07):
Leo Serrato (27:09):
Yes. You’re missing Christmas and New Year’s with your dad and your sister and your niece and nephew, but there’s a family out there who will never have another anything with their son because of your lack of actions. So snap out of it and pull yourself together cuz this is temporary.
Casey J. Cornelius (27:42):
You know what, I can imagine a a lot of people in that position, Leo, who would serve the time, get out and try to distance themselves from this topic as much as humanly possible. What, what wasn’t in you that said, no, no, no, I’m, I’m going to not, not avoid it but really jump into it in such a, a deep and meaningful way as you do today.
Leo Serrato (28:23):
It was those brothers awards that night. One that, let’s not make any rash decisions that, that really triggered my brain. And like you stated, it, it, it seared into my brain and I was like, okay, something needs to be done because these students are not seeing, well at the time they were my peers, but like, they’re not seeing themselves do anything wrong. They’re not seeing the dangers that we are putting others in, that we are putting ourselves in. And so that was, that was step one of what made me want to stay in this world. But I promised, I promised my new member cuz I got to know him, even if it was a short week of recruitment events, I got to know a lot about him.
And I made a promise to him at his funeral that I would not let his death be in vain. I made a promise to his mother, though she doesn’t know that I made this promise to her cuz it was, it was, it’s something for me. But I would not let this happen to another family. If I can do anything to save one student’s life, to save one family from having to live the hell that this family is living because of me, then I was gonna do it. And so, like I said, it was a two year trial. I was able to eventually graduate. I had been suspended for a period of time. But I went back, graduated with my bachelor’s and new Fresno State had an amazing student affairs program. And so I applied and did everything. It’s kind of funny how it all worked out, but did everything that I needed to turn into the university before me having to go to jail. And about two to three weeks after being released from jail, I found out that I got into my master’s program.
Casey J. Cornelius (31:19):
Wow. So it was not only getting out, re assimilating all that other kind of stuff, but then being informed that you had this, this next opportunity
Leo Serrato (31:31):
Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> and Wow.
Casey J. Cornelius (31:35):
Leo Serrato (31:40):
There is an individual who no longer works at Fresno State, but she also saw me. She is the same woman who suspended me, but I hold a very close relationship with her. And I like, let’s see again, I’m gonna cry. Her name is Dr. Carolyn Kun. She was the dean of students. And even though I met her on horrible circumstances, Dr. Kun always told me there was something in you that I saw and I knew if anybody was going to make a difference, it was gonna be you. And I remember sitting in Dr. Coon Coon’s office just looking around cuz I’d go visit her periodically. She became somebody who I guess I imprinted on. She became a safe space for me. And so I’d go visit her and I remember seeing pictures on her wall of her with students in their graduation regalia and asking her, Dr.
Kun, what’s that? And she said, those are the dean’s medalist. They’re students that I, that are submitted to be recognized with the honor of the Dean’s medal. And then I handpicked them. So when I went back to visit her after getting outta jail and finding out that I got into my grad program, told her, Dr. Koon, I’m gonna be your dean’s medalist when I graduate. And she said, okay, prove it. And for the first and only time in my life, I received straight A’s, graduated with a 4.0. And I did my graduate research on hazing.
People in my cohort thought I was a little weird <laugh> <laugh>. I was cuz I was the only one who, the focus was on Greek life. Like all of my peers, they were academic counseling financial ed, all the different aspects of, and more commonly thought of aspects of student affairs. And I was here like, okay, how can I get, how can I turn this assignment into something that has to do with fraternities and sororities? How can I spin everything that I’m doing for my coursework to do with hazing? I was fortunate enough to get my graduate internship in the fraternity sorority life office at Fresno State. The advisor, Brianne Skok she really taught me what it meant to be a fraternity and sorority advisor. And she took a huge risk by employing me. Like, here’s the man that two to three years ago, maybe before at the time was involved in a hazing related death and I’m gonna bring him back into this campus community.
But Brian took a chance on me and helped me a lot. Like I said, she taught me what it meant to be a good fraternity and sorority advisor and helped me with point to mean directions that I needed to go so I could write my graduate thesis. And so I like you said in my intro, like I presented it at the Central California Research Symposium and it’s entitled Greek Life Hazed and Confused. And that’s what I’ve built one of my programs around where it’s nothing but hazing education because that was something that I identified as one of the spaces in which we were extremely lacking is how students are actually educated on hazing and like, doing my research and learning about the levels of hazing and all that, that one word hazing encompasses. I was like, if you would’ve asked me during my undergraduate time, if I thought I was hazed, I would’ve told you no. Hands down. No, I was not hazed. I was older than them. I was out. I was able to outsmart them. And no one hit me even when I was.
Casey J. Cornelius (37:06):
And that was the, and that was the definition in your
Leo Serrato (37:08):
Mind. And that was the definition of my mind. And also cuz like I wasn’t peer pressured to drink cuz like I told you when I was telling my new members that they didn’t have to drink and I also expressed that I didn’t drink. And so like, they didn’t even force me to drink. Well they tried, but like I outsmarted them. So I never had to drink when I didn’t want to drink. But even in my mind, that still wasn’t hazing. Hazing was physical touch, physical violence. And so like, I, I did the research <laugh>, I did the research to find out what hazing really was. And so that’s where hazing Confused. Which is,
Casey J. Cornelius (38:02):
Which is by the way a fantastic title. Like I’m personally just a, you know, an intellectual fan of great titles. And and that one certainly checks video in the boxes in that regard.
Leo Serrato (38:13):
Oh yeah. Well it it works when it rhymes. Right. But also I’m a huge fan of the movie Dazed In Confused.
Casey J. Cornelius (38:22):
I was gonna say, for those of a certain generation it’s called Dazed in Confused. Yes,
Leo Serrato (38:26):
Yes. But I didn’t just do it cause I was a fan of the movie. There’s reason behind why it’s Sure. Hazed and Confused because if you’ve watched that movie, you know the scene.
Casey J. Cornelius (38:45):
Okay, don’t give it all away. No, no, no. You can’t can’t give it all away. Listen, listen, this is, this is where I get to do my job. Make sure folks, if you have not yet work college twilight.com/leo checkout his programs, including the Hazed and Confused program. Cuz see he was just gonna, he was just gonna give it all away here. And I wish we had three hours to do that program here, but
Leo Serrato (39:06):
Casey J. Cornelius (39:07):
I know we could go on for a while. Oh yeah, Leo, I I do wanna ask you a couple of questions programming wise, but, but also in terms of your mindset. So it sounds like from your, from your own lived experience, but then also your, your professional experience that you have centered your work also on the new member process mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and how pivotal and, and how important that time is in the membership experience. Can you talk a little bit about your philosophy around that?
Leo Serrato (39:43):
I, I truly believe that when fraternity and sorority is done right, that it is one of the most beneficial things that a college student can do. And these new members come in with the stereotypical expectations of fraternity and sorority. And so it’s our job as a university, my job as the advisor and my active student affiliated members’ job to make sure that we are perpetuating the ideals that we say we stand for. And that I educate these new members on what it means to be a part of one of these organizations. It’s not just the party that you see on tv. There’s so much that goes into being one of a member of a Greek lettered organization. And there’s a lot of education on the risks that are involved in being part of a Greek lettered organization. And so I have also created the new to me program, or new to you program, sorry where we’re educating the new members of organizations, of communities and what it means to be a part of these lifelong commitments that you are going to make at 18 years old.
Casey J. Cornelius (41:46):
Would, would you say that, that most folks who are coming to organizations at, at that phase of their life, that their expectations are accurate or that they have built in assumptions based on what they hear, what they see on TikTok, social media, what whatever it might be like, which, which one are you seeing more of? That they’re accurate or that they’re the stereotypes?
Leo Serrato (42:14):
You know, had you asked me pre pandemic, I might have said a little more going towards, they understood the good of the organizations that it wasn’t just the partying, partying aspect that was bringing in them too. Cuz we were starting to make some decent Hmm. Change and then like everyone else, <laugh> our world got turned upside down. And the students now are a little different and the expectations are a little different. And I feel like on a national level, fraternity and sorority has kind of regressed, not because of the professionals, but just what the incoming students are expecting at a fraternity and sorority. And it’s because everything was shut down. Right. And there was no person really before you that got to have a, a normal fraternity or sorority experience, you know, maybe like the older sibling or a cousin. And I honestly feel no offense to the individuals that are older than me, but a lot of the, the dads and the uncles, the grandpas, the moms, the aunts, the whomever, were like, oh yeah, back in my time up.
I can’t stand those words back in my day. It’s not your day anymore. We’ve grown a little bit, but I feel like a lot of that took place. And so that’s the mindset a lot of these students are coming in with. And so we’re kind of in a dangerous space again. Well, we’ve always been in a dangerous space, like, let’s be honest, but these students, they, to use their own term, they, they hit different Mm mm They’re, they’re a new breed of students. So having, it’s challenging for professionals. I’m, it’s cuz it’s challenging for me, I’m sure most professionals could attest to this, is we we’re having to adapt and change <laugh> on the run. Like, so it’s,
Casey J. Cornelius (45:01):
Yeah. And, and I, and I think what, what I’m hearing you say is in the absence of that continuity, that that got disrupted, all the, all the good work, all the heavy lifting that had been done pre pandemic, in the absence of that continuity, the gap was filled with assumptions, stereotypes, the way we did it 20, 30, 40 years ago mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and, and thus now collectively folks are undoing <laugh> the, the, the misinformation, the misunderstandings that, that folks are coming to campus with. Is that right?
Leo Serrato (45:33):
Yeah. Because like I said, there’s a lot of the back in my time situations and also, I don’t know about you, but like during the pandemic in lockdown I watched a lot of tv, I watched a lot of movies. Yeah. And media still portrays our organizations as the party, the group of kids that you go to when you need to drink or you want to drink or you wanna do drugs or the where, where you’re a supplier on campus. And so in your question was like, are they coming in looking for that, that meaningful experience? Some are, but a lot of ’em are coming in for that social connection. I am here for a good time, not a long time. And so you’re seeing a lot of also turnover within the organizations once they’re starting to be asked for, to do those 11 requirements or take on leadership roles seniors becoming extremely disengaged.
Casey J. Cornelius (46:43):
Leo Serrato (46:47):
So it’s changed.
Casey J. Cornelius (46:48):
I, you know, I I, you know, Leo, you, you and I have, we have a, a lot in common, but, but one of them is the, the core belief that you know, not to, not to put anybody out there or on blast or anything, but like a lot of people in our line of work don’t love working with new members. Like, I’m just, I’m just gonna put it out there. Like a a a lot of people don’t love the Saturday morning, you know, room full of 18 to 19 year olds, talk to them about all of the good stuff that their, their membership should mean in their lives. Right? Like, that’s, that’s a, that’s a hard audience at times because, you know, they feel like hostages and they don’t wanna be there. But one of the things that I admire most about you is, again, and I I referenced this earlier, not only do you pick the, the hardest topics but you do so in, in a, in a powerful way. And not just like, listen, for those of you who know Leo like Leo’s big in stature and Leo’s big in personality and all that, all that other kind of stuff. He, he, like, he, he fills the room, but he’s also not choosing the easiest topics to talk about. He’s decidedly choosing the hardest one to tackle. And, you know, for, for those reasons I know I’ve told you this personally, but I’m, I’m gonna put it out here to the world too. I really admire the work that you do.
Leo Serrato (48:17):
Casey J. Cornelius (48:19):
You want to have some have some bit lighter conversation and get you outta here on some some rapid fire questions. <Laugh>,
Leo Serrato (48:26):
That would be fantastic.
Casey J. Cornelius (48:28):
All right. Let’s, let’s try this. So Leo, I know you’re a busy person and I know your schedule’s full, but, but I’m gonna ask this anyway. Let’s imagine for a second that you have an entire day to binge watch anything. What do you choose?
Leo Serrato (48:42):
I don’t know what this is gonna say about me personally, but what I just binge binge watched was to scream series <laugh> the movies. Oh, okay. With Nev Campbell. I’ve always been such a huge fan of them. And after the new one was released, I just watched it in the movie theaters, and so I was like, you know what? I need to go home and watch one through five.
Casey J. Cornelius (49:08):
Okay. I was gonna say, please, please don’t judge me. They’re six now, right?
Leo Serrato (49:10):
They’re six now. I’m hoping for a seven. I’m putting that into the world. I need a seven. Okay. but if I’m not watching a scary movie, I am, I’m watching friends on repeat.
Casey J. Cornelius (49:22):
Okay. All right. So there’s, there’s some nineties specific stuff in your, in your cache here. Oh yeah, I
Leo Serrato (49:28):
Gotcha. Definitely telling you my age.
Casey J. Cornelius (49:30):
I gotcha, I gotcha. With without any judgment. Actually, actually a very positive judgment. Okay. Next question, Leo, which is the most used app on your phone?
Leo Serrato (49:43):
It’s gonna have to be, I’m gonna be judged for this as well. Tiktok, I love TikTok. Really? Could mindlessly seamlessly scroll through TikTok and it’s either like the cute animal videos or I got a lot of political TikTok going on. Okay. Or food. I’ve learned how to cook so much from TikTok <laugh>.
Casey J. Cornelius (50:08):
Oh, okay. And, and not like the, the pandemic, like what was that coffee creation? All of us were trying to make not, not like that kind of cooking, but No, but like, actual cooking,
Leo Serrato (50:17):
Right? Like actual cooking. Like last night I made Caritas in a crockpot because I saw it on TikTok
Casey J. Cornelius (50:23):
<Laugh>. And did they, did they turn out okay,
Leo Serrato (50:24):
Fantastic. I might open up my own Mexican restaurant. Nice crock pots. <Laugh>.
Casey J. Cornelius (50:31):
You could call it like TikTok or something like that. Uhhuh <affirmative>. That would be good. That would be good. Alright. Speaking of speaking of restaurants and everything like that, Leo, who would you most like to have dinner with?
Leo Serrato (50:44):
My mom. <Affirmative>.
Casey J. Cornelius (50:49):
I know she’s a, she’s a force in your life, isn’t she?
Leo Serrato (50:53):
Oh, yes. I would love one more time. I was supposed to end on a good note.
Casey J. Cornelius (51:01):
Well, but, but like I said before, you, you don’t, you don’t choose the things that are easy to talk about. So I, I, I appreciate that. Thank you. Leo, what do you do to wind down, like at the end of the day, you know, all the meetings are done, all the emails have been answered, or at least most of the emails have been answered. What do you do that says, okay, now it’s time to wind down and relax?
Leo Serrato (51:22):
I play with my babies. I have nine fur babies and yeah, I got three dogs, six cats. And just being able to chill and snuggle, like, ah, I’m off.
Casey J. Cornelius (51:45):
Okay. Hold, hold on just a darn minute. Okay. Be before we get into the, you have three dogs and six cats.
Leo Serrato (51:51):
Casey J. Cornelius (51:53):
Listen folks, you know, we always talk about like Venmo or Cash app. If, if you wanna send Leo maybe some pet smart credits or something like that, <laugh>, that’s gotta be, that’s gotta be a, a wild kingdom at home. That’s, that’s gotta be a lot of work.
Leo Serrato (52:08):
It is. But I did a very good job on making sure that my animals were very well trained. The only one who doesn’t have manners is my youngest dog. And I blame the pandemic on that because he’s a pandemic baby.
Casey J. Cornelius (52:26):
<Laugh>. Okay. <Laugh>.
Leo Serrato (52:28):
Casey J. Cornelius (52:28):
Like, shout, shout him out. Who’s the youngest?
Leo Serrato (52:30):
Casey J. Cornelius (52:31):
Come on. Walker. Walker.
Leo Serrato (52:33):
Come on. What’s this one? He is my, he is the cause of a lot of gray hair <laugh>. But we love him because he’s absolutely adorable. But like my cats, they’re trained. I use my psychology applied behavioral analysis on them and like, you’re like six cats. That must be wild. No, cuz at night they all go in kennels, even the cash. Oh,
Casey J. Cornelius (52:55):
Leo Serrato (52:57):
You know, it’s a snap of the finger and all nine of them find their way to their kennels. And like, I at least got them trained a little bit, so it helps.
Casey J. Cornelius (53:07):
They’re I’m sure at least 17 listeners right now who are like, whoa, wait a sec. But we, yeah. Listen, we’re, we’re gonna get into that idea of training Animals <laugh> in another episode. Just a another quick shameless plug. Please make sure if you haven’t yet, visit for college for life.com/leo. Learn more about his signature programs, workshops, retreats and if you’re interested in bringing him to your campus, to your organization, please let us know. Leo, I’m gonna get you outta here on this last question. How can listeners best connect with you?
Leo Serrato (53:40):
Social media? Instagram. I’m on Instagram a lot. Facebook if you don’t go to forcollegeforlife.com/leo, you could also go to leonardserrato.com. I can connect you. Email. I am, I am, I am out there. I have put myself out there and I am ready to engage.
Casey J. Cornelius (54:08):
I think what Leo’s telling you folks is he is not hard to find. No. So if you’d like to connect, please make sure on essentially any platform you’d like, especially TikTok. It sounds like you can, you can find Leo. You can find Leo. Leo. Listen, my friend. I I, I mean this from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for, for today, thank you for, for sharing your message and for all of the important work that you do.
Leo Serrato (54:32):
Thank you, my friend, for having me.
Casey J. Cornelius (54:34):
Of course. And for everyone who’s listened today, thank you so much. Again, always ask, I know it’s a kind of a broken record, but please make sure that you do the things that you’re supposed to do with podcasts. So like, and share and subscribe and review. And also if you’d be so kind, please make sure that you reach out to us to let us know the topics, speakers, the content that you would most like to hear in these episodes, our commitment is to bring to you the ones that are most beneficial and the ones that you’re most interested in hearing. So until next time, friends, be well and we’ll talk to you then.