A Welcome to Remember

Have you forgotten the convocation speech that welcomed you to college? This year's Georgia Tech freshmen are sure to remember the "sophomore welcome" that they received.

August 21, 2013
Nicholas Selby of Georgia Tech

Like many colleges and universities, the Georgia Institute of Technology has a welcoming convocation. One of the traditions at Georgia Tech is that a second-year student is selected by a faculty-staff committee to give "the sophomore welcome."

This year's welcome -- by Nicholas Selby -- went viral Tuesday and may set a new standard for welcoming new students. Here is the closing, which has captured most of the attention:



Via e-mail, Selby said that he applied over the summer to give the talk -- first with an abstract and then with a video. The video did include the music, but he said that the administrators on stage with him hadn't seen the audition video so that was a surprise to them.

Selby, a mechanical engineering major, said he felt good about the speech, but that he was surprised by the off-campus reaction. "When everyone started posting it on Facebook and other social media and the view count started rising, I had no idea (and still really have no idea) what was happening," he said.

Asked if he had advice for others giving convocation addresses, Selby said: "If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right. Not many people get the privilege of getting a few thousand people in a room who have to listen to you. You owe it to yourself and to everyone in the audience to make sure the entire room is having a blast."

Matt Ufford, a columnist for the sports website SB Nation, declared Selby a "motivational nerd-god," and provided a second-by-second analysis of the rhetoric and style in the speech. Ufford found himself wondering if Selby's talents could have an impact beyond the engineering world of Georgia Tech. Wrote Ufford: "In the spring of 2003, I crossed over the Kuwaiti border into Iraq, and I never once got a speech this inspiring.... Anyway, Nick, if that engineering thing doesn't shake out, get to work on your pull-ups. The Marines are hiring."

For those with a little more time, here is the full speech (7 minutes), most of which isn't quite as rousing as the close, but which does include some advice that may warm the hearts of parents, professors and engineers (and of course Georgia Tech alumni).


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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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