Saturday, November 15, 2008

Evansville Sig Ep Salazar 'Biggest Loser'

'Biggest Loser’ returns for Homecoming
Alumnus to speak to UE community on healthy living, personal experiences
Daniel Latini • Staff Writer

For many alumni returning to campus, Homecoming will involve a campus tour, a parade and an obligatory trip to the UE bookstore. But for alumnus Bernie Salazar, it will be much more.

Salazar graduated in 2002 having been SGA vice president, a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, an Orientation Leader, a resident assistant and Homecoming king. He returns about 130 pounds lighter after winning the at-home challenge on season five of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and is eager to speak about healthy living.

Although his first two lectures occurred yesterday, a third lecture will take place at 2 p.m. tomorrow in Eykamp Hall as a part of Homecoming festivities. The event is open to the public.

Rachel Carpenter, assistant dean of students, helped coordinate Salazar’s return to campus. She said she remembers him as a warm, caring person who was a friend to everyone he met.
“You couldn’t not know Bernie,” she said.

Dean Dana Clayton, vice president for student affairs, said he was a strong student leader and a genial person.

“Bernie always looked for the positive in every situation,” she said. “His compassion for people was sincere and heartfelt.”

This compassion is what drives Salazar in his crusade for others’ weight loss today. An education major, he said he hopes to ultimately get involved in combating childhood obesity, something he experienced during his youth.

In a 2002 Crescent article, Salazar said he never wanted to look back and regret not trying anything in college. While he said he still looks back fondly on what he accomplished over the years, he does have a few regrets.

“I wish I would have taken more care of my health,” Salazar said. “There were options, but I didn’t take them.”

He hopes to prevent today’s youth from having to go through the transformation he did to become healthy and active.

A key component of this, he said, is recognizing the success of obesity prevention in the United States rests not just with parents, but with children as well.

“I would like to instill in children that they have more control of themselves than they think they do,” Salazar said.

He said by teaching children how their diet and exercise choices can be fun, it is possible to prevent or correct lifelong obesity.

To this end, Salazar said he is working on a children’s book about healthy living that will be illustrated by 2004 alumna Sara Miller.

No matter how far he goes in life and how many friends he makes, Salazar said he will not forget his time at UE.

“I have been gone too long,” he said.