Each semester, dozens of rising second-year students apply for the privilege to address incoming students at Georgia Tech at New Student Convocation. The ceremony was even made famous in 2013 by alumnus Nick Selby.
This year, new students will hear from Ben Rapsas, a rising second-year biomedical engineering major. Rapsas felt like this was something he was called to do.
The process of becoming Convocation speaker includes writing a speech that is judged by faculty and staff. Prospective speakers must also deliver that speech to a group of judges.
"Delivering my speech to the selection committee was the hardest part," Rapsas said. "That may sound funny because I will need to deliver this speech to thousands, but the panel was deciding on me versus many other qualified applicants, whereas my Convocation audience has no choice. They're stuck with me!"
One of the main reasons Rapsas wanted to give the speech was to overcome one of his biggest fears: public speaking. Throughout high school, he pushed himself to step outside of his comfort zone, and he's continuing that process here at Tech.
Rapsas is also part of the Georgia Tech Honors Program and lived in its Living Learning Community last year. Thanks to guidance he received from administrators in the Honors Program, he feels confident in his abilities to give a memorable speech that will inspire and motivate Georgia Tech's newest additions.
"The support and encouragement I received from our group of talented administrators allowed me to feel confident in my ability to explore opportunities and take chances," he said.
To those who may want to someday speak at Convocation, or just conquer a fear in general, Rapsas offers this advice: "If it is something that you are passionate about, wrap your head around it early. I really think that allowed me to develop the heartfelt message I wanted to deliver."
New students will be welcomed to Georgia Tech at New Student Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 21, at 5 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion.