Every year, Georgia Tech awards the title of Mr. and Ms. Georgia Tech to a male and female student that best represent the Georgia Tech community. Candidates go through several rounds of interviews where they are evaluated based on leadership skills, school spirit, and community involvement. After the whirl-wind that is Homecoming Week, the 2016 Mr. Georgia Tech was named to be, Grand Challenges Class of 2013, Andrew Perry.
Andrew Perry, tell me a little about yourself.
Hey, I’m a fourth year computer science major and industrial design minor from Peachtree City, Georgia. I’m involved in a few things, but the main ones are the Mental Health Student Coalition, Omicron Delta Kappa, Georgia Tech Ambassadors, and Delta Chi. For fun, I love messing with new microcontrollers and eating pizza, sometimes at the same time.
What is your favorite Georgia Tech tradition?
Oh gosh, this is a hard one. My favorite tradition is less of a tradition and more of a piece of history. I LOVE the campanile. The place is beautiful, and has a fun history. Campanile is an Old Italian word for ‘bell tower,’ and it got this name because of it use to play music. Unfortunately, some students were dancing in it, and broke the music box part of it. The institute never got around to fixing it, but the changing lights that shine on it at night still correspond to the music that use to play.
How has Grand Challenges shaped your journey at Georgia Tech?
Grand Challenges has been the kick starter to my collegiate career. By starting in a Living Learning Community, I was able to start school off with 109 people that I could become friends with. The program kind of forces you to become friends with these people. They stick you in a dorm together, make you take 3 hours of class together, and still have bonding activities. It’s where I found my best friend! I’m still involved with GC without working on a project, being part of the mentor program and the recruitment team. I’ve also met almost all of the GC students by being a retreat leader, and I can’t explain how happy I am to see this program grow and strengthen.
As a campus leader, how do you feel the Grand Challenges program has helped shape your leadership skills and experience leading others?
Grand Challenges was a stepping stone for me to get connected and become a leader on campus. In high school, I barely did anything. Grand Challenges gave me an opportunity to join a committee and I decided to run for a leadership position. Eventually, I became the chair for the Faculty Engagement committee and I was able to start defining my leadership styles. I also got to meet some amazing faculty and administration through that role too. The program also helps me work on my team building skills, an essential skill to become a good leader. Grand Challenges allowed me to be consistently work on team building and bonding through the entire duration of my project. I owe a lot to the program.
What is your advice for students that would like to be in your position one day?
My absolute best piece of advice came from the previous Ms. Georgia Tech, Missy Pittard. She told me to never say something to myself if I wouldn’t say it to a 7 year old. You would never tell a 7 year old that they are dumb and couldn’t do better. Don’t say it to yourself. You would never tell a 7 year old that they should skip eating dinner or skip sleeping in order to study more. Don’t say it to yourself. I found this advice to keep me away from any self-deprecating behavior.
The advice I have to share from my personal experience is that you need to love yourself first. You need to make sure you have your well-being at the top of your priorities. You won’t be able to succeed or even progress if you don’t make sure that you are healthy. I hope everyone understands that it’s ok to drop a class or organization if it is becoming too stressful or that it is ok to go see a counselor. Everyone has the potential to become Mr. or Ms. Georgia Tech, it just depends on where you put your priorities and how you decide to love Tech.