Georgia Tech has a convocation for incoming freshmen, and who better to give them wisdom than a salty and world-weary college sophomore? Nicholas Selby stepped up to that challenge, and while the two-minute climax above is destined for viral history, his full ten-point plan for collegiate success is also worth savoring in your free time. But for now, let's look at the highlights from the embedded video.
0:04 -- Selby starts out as your typical Milton Q. Nerdlinger: Glasses, tousled hair, the kind of voice that suggests an ease with calculus and the periodic table. "We want to do the impossible," he says, and he beams with the kind of earnest sincerity that the modern American economy grinds to dust within a year of graduation. Old guy with the frilly neckerchief knows what I'm talkin' 'bout:
0:11 -- "And so," Selby says, walking across the stage with more swagger than an engineering student typically possesses, "in the words of Sir Isaac Newton ..."
0:17 -- The first bars of the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey play. "'If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.'" The quote and the music are familiar enough for the objective observer to maintain some skepticism:
0:31 -- Selby fires his first salvo. "Our mission as students is NOT to follow in the footsteps of the astronauts, Nobel Prize Laureates, and presidents who graduated before us, but to EXCEED their footsteps! CRUSH the shoulders of the giants upon whom we stand!" Bonus points for correct grammar during an impassioned motivational speech.
0:46 -- "So I'm telling YOU ..."
Pause. Breath. Head nod. Music!
"YOU'RE AT GEORGIA TECH! YOU CAN DO THAT!"
No one has ever been this excited about being at Georgia Tech.
0:55 -- "IF YOU WANNA BUILD THE IRON MAN SUIT, YOU'RE AT GEORGIA TECH! YOU CAN DO THAT!" Oh ho ho, an engineering student referencing a comic book character? Minus one point for playing to stereotype, sir -- a point you can gain back if one of those students is actually inspired to build the Iron Man suit, because frankly, I find Tony Stark's science to be more than a little suspect.
1:01 -- "IF YOU WANNA PLAY THEME MUSIC DURING YOUR CONVOCATION SPEECH, LIKE A BADASSSSS!!!!! YOU'RE AT GEORGIA TECH!!! YOU CAN DO THAT!"
In the spring of 2003, I crossed over the Kuwaiti border into Iraq, and I never once got a speech this inspiring. Not from I MEF commander James Conway (who would rise to the Corps's top post). Not from Division Commanding General James Mattis, who would go on to lead U.S. Central Command. Not from anyone.
Anyway, Nick, if that engineering thing doesn't shake out, get to work on your pull-ups. The Marines are hiring.
1:14 -- "I AM DOING THAAAAAAAAT!"
Selby flings his arms open to welcome the praise, the adulation, and whatever else the moment calls for -- explosions, confetti, flames spurting from the stage, adoring women throwing their undergarments on stage. This is what I, the viewer, expect at this very moment. It is what Selby deserves.
The standing ovation is enthusiastic, but hardly overwhelming, perhaps because the audience is engineering students in yellow beanies, clapping against programs they didn't think to put down.
You are, after all, at Georgia Tech.