Jesse knew as a high schooler that he needed to land his scholarship interview at ACU – financial assistance was the only way he’d be able to attend. He said he’s thankful he made an impression with his interviewers.

It helped that he was raised in the circus.

From the age of 2 to about 12, Jesse traveled with his parents, both clowns, and younger brother Tony up and down the East Coast for Cole Bros. Circus, and he has done his share of professional clowning around since.

So when it was time during his scholarship interview to ask questions, he said the first thing that popped into his head: “Do you guys want to learn how to juggle?”

Luckily for him, they did. The interviewers received an impromptu juggling lesson from Jesse using peppermints; Jesse eventually received a scholarship.

He’s in his junior year now studying political science, and he said he loves telling this story as he leads campus tours to prospective students and parents. Jesse’s parents, both immigrants, didn’t attend college, and his guidance counselor told him he’d never get into a place like ACU.

But he knew ACU is where he belonged – “It felt like I was at home,” Jesse said.

“I get so excited when people come to visit because I can [help] them fall in love with ACU, and it’s like I fall in love with ACU all over again.”

And if tour-goers ever need help learning to juggle, he’s got that covered, too.

Published: September 2015


Jesse Leon (’17)

Political Science