Q&A with Toni Leo
Tell us about your UM path. My Montevallo journey began with a freshman scholarship and the knowledge that UM was a top teacher prep school in the state. I knew this through my coach and physical education teacher Gloria Birmingham, who told me all about the school and thought I would be a good fit. I knew in the 7th grade I wanted to be a teacher, so I wanted to go to the best school.
At UM, I was fortunate enough to be able to compete in both basketball and tennis and feel that this was such a blessing! I did not decide which College Night side I was on until my sophomore year, and then I chose Gold! My junior year, I decided to go through rush and joined Phi Mu. I continued to be involved in the Physical Education Majors Club throughout and then SGA my senior year. My degree opened doors for me that possibly would not have been opened. I was able to land a job immediately after graduation because of supportive faculty who led me to be a successful teacher candidate.
What is your favorite aspect of Montevallo? My favorite aspect of Montevallo was the supportive faculty and staff. My advisor, Jeanette Crew, provided advice, support and just the right amount of “push” to create a desire in me to be the best teacher possible.
My favorite aspect now is that I see how progressive and forward-thinking the University has become, and I am so proud! Change is constant, and I am glad to see that Montevallo is continuing to improve and grow on a rich tradition.
How did you get involved with the UMNAA? I went to a UM alumni event in Jefferson County, and Karen Kelly ’80 (former UMNAA president) asked me if I would ever want to be involved on the Alumni Board. I told her that I would love to give back to the University that provided so much opportunity for me to be successful in my profession. I never dreamed it would lead to being president, but I look forward to the challenge and doing my part to be an ambassador and leader for our beloved UM.
As president of UMNAA, what are your goals? Greater visibility and increased alumni attendance and support! I want alumni to want to come home to campus and become involved in events to experience reunions of teams, classmates and former professors. I want to find a way to support students on campus who need extra financial aid so they can graduate and fulfill their dreams of a successful career with a University of Montevallo degree by their name!
The Alumni Board is very open to all alumni and we would love to hear from you! You can meet us at events across the state! Tailgating, art auctions, benefit bash, etc. My goal as president for the next two years is to attend every alumni event in the state. I would love to meet you and hear your ideas on how to make your board more effective!