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#YOUMaine Christopher Leon finds new avenues in botany and community

Christopher Leon is a third-year student at the University of Maine, currently studying botany and environmental horticulture. Alongside his studies, Leon is also a proud member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. 

Born in the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Leon spent his early life across the Piscataqua River in the southmost town of Kittery, Maine. His family moved to Berwick, Maine, where Leon spent most of his childhood before moving once again to North Berwick. Being located on Maine’s southern border, both Berwick and North Berwick are residential towns that are rather close to popular New England destinations such as Portland and Old Orchard Beach.

 Having lived in Maine for the vast majority of his life, Leon enrolled at UMaine as it was relatively close to home and provided a number of benefits as the state’s most populated school. 

“I have always lived in Maine, and UMaine is an easy choice for me since it is in my state and very close to my home. It is one of the few schools in my state that I feel has a good reputation,” said Leon

 Going into UMaine undecided, Leon eventually chose to pursue studies in the field of botany, as studying plant life outdoors is a prospect that greatly interests him. As well as studying botany, Leon is also interested in environmental horticulture, which is the practice of monitoring plants within various contained environments.

“I have always had a love for the outdoors and am always so amazed by the mechanics of trees and plants and how each one is so different,” Leon said.

 In particular, Leon is interested in pursuing a career in the field of landscape design, which involves the designing and construction of yards and gardens. Combining skills in both botany and horticulture allows for excellent opportunities in landscape design. 

Leon is also interested in working with the National Parks Department. The state of Maine provides many career opportunities for individuals who are interested in these specific fields, with such locations as the Acadia National Park and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. 

 “I confirmed my beliefs by working as a landscaper over the summer and engaging with the environment as well as others who feel the same as me,” says Leon. 

In addition to studying and furthering his education, Leon has also found solace in the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon. TKE is home to a wide and diverse group of students with various different majors and interests. Leon joined TKE after meeting some members who gave him a newfound perspective and appreciation of the fraternity.

“I met a few guys who didn’t fit my perception of a “frat guy.” They showed me that they focus on leadership as well as philanthropy, which are two aspects I respect and engage with on my own time,” said Leon. 

Members of TKE participate in a mix of different avenues and hobbies, such as camping, hiking and other fieldwork. Leon values a strongly knit community and the ability to connect with individuals of various backgrounds. 

“My favorite part about being a TKE brother is that I have the ability to interact with a multitude of different people on campus that I probably would not have if I was not a part of a fraternity,” said Leon.

College can be rather intimidating as students often feel uncertainty about the future. It can also be quite isolating without a structured community or friends to fall back on when the workload becomes too much to handle. Over the years, Leon has found his passion in the fields of botany and horticulture and sees potential in the future combining these two interests. 

Through connecting with people of various backgrounds on campus and through his time at TKE, Leon hopes to further his own career while also encouraging newer students to take new avenues with the people around them. 

“I look forward to having my degree and being able to say that I accomplished college. I feel that as I take on harder and harder work, I gain more confidence in my abilities as an adult and an individual,” said Leon.

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