Mr. and Ms. GT discuss their homecoming win

Photo by John Nakano

The Technique sat down with Grant Veve and Claire Batten, winners of the Mr. and Ms. Georgia Tech homecoming competition, to discuss their personal experiences during Homecoming Week 2014.

Grant Veve: I’m a 5th year ME. I grew up in Colorado, and we moved to Orlando for middle and high school. I knew I wanted to do engineering,… and I saw Tech as the best fit. I’m an Air Force cadet here, and my dad went to the Air Force Academy. I’m also very involved in my fraternity [Pi Kappa Alpha] as president.

Claire Batten: I’m a 4th year Public Policy student. I have grown up in Georgia my entire life and grew up in a very Tech-oriented family—both my dad and my grandpa went here. I used to be a peer leader in Folk and in Field, and now I live in my sorority house [Phi Mu]. I am currently serving on the executive boards for Tech tour guides and… for Tech student ambassadors.

Technique: In the secondary interview of the competition, you were asked, “If you came back in 25 years as an alum, what would you like to see changed or stay the same on campus?” What were your presentations?

Veve: Claire has a better one than me. Me being the regimented person I am, I was like, “Ok, presentation? Powerpoint.” I wanted to see the gameday traditions stay the same: the Whistle, Yellow Jacket Alley, the Reck. Tradition is something that drew me to this campus; it’s cemented in old-fashioned roots but with technological progress, and I really appreciate that. My suggestion was to upgrade [the Reck] in the next 25 years into a flex-fuel or electric vehicle with the same body.

Batten: I brought in a small fishbowl and put a blue plastic fish inside. Most students who come to Tech are used to feeling like a big fish in a small pond, and I filled up the fishbowl with water. That identity starts to dilute when they come to Tech because everyone else is a big fish in a small pond. As I shared that, I put black food dye in the water to where you couldn’t see the fish anymore. Ultimately, it’s really easy to lose sight of who you are here, and… this leads to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. When I come back in 25 years, I want to see a campus full of mental wellness. Every time I gave a way that we could combat these mental health issues, I put bleach in the water… [to make] the food coloring disappear. After my presentation, the water was clear, and you could see the fish again.

Technique: What did you do to promote your campaigns? You weren’t allowed to have physical promotions like fliers.

Veve: I wanted a way to get people to know who I am, and [my campaign video] was my humorous take on that. I wanted people to be able to come up and talk to me and think that I’m a normal student. It had a solid 2000 views, then Total Frat Move got ahold of it and, much to my surprise, thought it was awesome. The next day, it was up to 8000 views. I think now it’s at like 14,000.

Batten: For my campaigning, I felt weird. I posted a picture on my Facebook profile, and a friend made a group inviting people to vote for me. I noticed myself starting to get caught up in the process, and I didn’t want to look back on my senior year and homecoming and feel like I didn’t enjoy it. So I logged off Facebook for a week.

Technique: So you un-campaigned?

Veve: Well, it worked.

Batten: I didn’t want to get consumed with the process.

Technique: In the interview with homecoming coordinator Deron Mai, he said that Mr./Ms. aren’t that involved on campus. What are your plans for 2015?

Batten: We actually went to breakfast this morning with Jacline and Stephen,… and we had a good conversation about what it’s going to take to really take advantage of the position. We want to interact more heavily with the alumni association or the admissions office to speak to a more external base, like alumni coming back to campus or potential students looking to attend.

Veve: If there’s ever an organization that wants me to show up to something, I’ll go. If there’s a way for me to motivate students to achieve more and get more out of their Tech experience, then I want to do that.

Technique: Is there anything that you would like to say to the student body as a whole and also to future Mr./Ms. candidates?

Veve: THANK YOU for the wonderful opportunity. It means a lot to have that support. [For future candidates,] enjoy the experience. Even being nominated is an honor in itself, and that’s something you should take with pride. Try to enjoy the happiness that encompasses making it, but also be happy with what you’ve already accomplished.

Batten: For Mr./Ms. candidates, I think we throw the word “honor” around loosely. Mr./Ms. is an opportunity, not an honor. This doesn’t enhance or diminish our value. Instead, it’s an opportunity to steward the pillars of this school. It’s an opportunity to give back, not a title that is deserved or entitled.