Mr. & Ms. Georgia Tech
A Different Kind of Homecoming King and Queen
Applications, essays, panel interviews, presentations . . . what might crop up as part of the hiring process for some jobs are prerequisites for the chance to steal the show at the Homecoming Game as Mr. and Ms. Georgia Tech.
Who would’ve thought?
But, as with everything else at Tech, fun and fame come as rewards for serious preparation and diligence. So, while the pomp surrounding the winners as they hop into the Ramblin’ Wreck for their victory ride around Grant Field is reminiscent of any other homecoming king and queen celebration, earning Mr. and Ms. Georgia Tech status represents a lot more than the popularity contest that’s come to symbolize so many homecoming titles.
It’s Not a Popularity Contest
“I get the popularity question a lot,” says Ms. Georgia Tech, Jacline Griffeth. “People often ask me: ‘Does being Ms. Georgia Tech mean you’re popular and got a lot of votes?’” Griffeth says the reality is that the student body voting portion of the selection process accounts for less than half of all the points.
It’s the interview and presentation components – during which candidates may address leadership experience and their impact on Tech – that tip the scales.
While the first 25 Mr. Georgia Tech and the first 25 Ms. Georgia Tech candidates to submit applications are afforded the opportunity of an initial interview, after two subsequent rounds of adjudication, only five male candidates and five female candidates are selected as finalists – determined largely by their performance in the secondary interview/presentation portion of the process.
Video: Mr. and Ms. Georgia Tech 2013
It’s All in the Presentation – and Interview
The interview/presentation stage of the competition is weighted at 55 percent of the total. During the interview, a panel of three to six judges, comprised of faculty, staff, and alumni, evaluates candidates based on criteria such as communication and leadership skills, enthusiasm and school spirit, campus and community involvement, and self-assurance. For the presentation portion, for which candidates have just about three days to prepare, they must present, for five minutes, on the specific topic assigned to them, then be prepared to answer questions for up to 10 minutes.
Student Center Associate Program Director Tasha M. Myers, an advisor for the Student Center Programs Council (SCPC), which coordinates and presents the competition, explained that the presentation prompt changes yearly. The current Mr. and Ms. Georgia Tech were challenged with: If President Peterson were to give you an allocation of $10 million to impact the Institute, what would you do with the money and why?
As part of his presentation, Mr. Georgia Tech, Stephen Webber, made a case for boosting one of his favorite Institute programs: Tech Promise. Himself a recipient of this scholarship, a need-based financial aid tool for Georgia residents, Webber suggested that half of his notional funds be used to expand the Tech Promise offering to non-Georgia residents.
“I absolutely love the Tech Promise program because of how much it has done for me, so I would really like if everyone, even beyond Georgia, who had the ability – but just couldn’t afford it – still could have a chance to experience a Tech education,” said Webber.
Webber feels as strongly as he does about the Tech experience because he says it’s what taught him “things about myself I never thought I'd know.”
Now an operations business analyst at Home Depot after graduating from Tech with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, he said Tech constantly challenged him.
Having served as the Ramblin’ Wreck driver in 2012, Webber said, “I never knew I could drive the Wreck and learn the mechanics of a 1930 Model A. I never knew I could handle that much responsibility, and I never knew people could trust me with such a precious piece of Georgia Tech. I also never knew I could be a mentor to incoming freshmen and current students. Tech kept pushing me; it gave me drive.”
Elected as the 2012 Ramblin' Wreck driver, Stephen Webber says being entrusted with responsibility for the Wreck — understanding how deeply it's cherished by the Tech community — was undoubtedly one of his best Tech experiences.
Superior Academics, Service, and . . . Love
That true appreciation for Tech is one reason why Webber is just right for the role of Mr. Georgia Tech. While the point of the Mr. and Ms. Georgia Tech titles is to spotlight those – seniors and graduate students – who embody the Tech spirit by excelling academically and in service to others, “Students who take on this role should have a deep love for Tech,” says Ms. Georgia Tech.
Now finishing up her third internship at Tech, Griffeth remembers how her love for Tech right from her first days here evoked absolute awe of the Ms. Georgia Tech winners before her.
“I remember when I was a freshman, I looked up to them so much. It was the fact that they had come to the point where they were viewed as what would best represent this school. That’s pretty powerful,” she said. “Now that I’m in that position, I hope that I will uphold that responsibility honorably, so that I can inspire others to continue the tradition of commitment to Georgia Tech, like past winners did for me when I was a younger Tech student.”
Now in her fourth year at Tech, this Stamps Scholar plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and modern languages. In the meantime, she is very much looking forward to carrying out the titleholder responsibilities (which are not mandatory, given that some students do graduate prior to the end of their yearlong reign). These include roles in the Up with the White and Gold awards ceremony, When the Whistle Blows memorial service, and, of course, the Homecoming Game at which the title handover takes place.
“To represent Tech at these functions is such an honor,” said Griffeth.
For Webber, who graduated in December 2013, it’s an honor – as well as a means of keeping his connections with Tech alive.
“Anything that helps me maintain ties to the place that taught me so much and that I love so much, I welcome.”
And Webber is serious about staying connected. He now lives close enough to Tech that he can “still hear the Whistle.”
Through Stamps enrichment funding, Stamps Scholar Jacline Griffeth (front right) had the opportunity to work as an intern at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium, where she met former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.