This past weekend, Tech had its annual homecoming football game, and the finalists for Mr. and Ms. Georgia Tech were honored on the field during halftime. The newly crowned winners were Kirby Criswell and Jolie Fouts.
The Technique got an opportunity to talk with the two winners to get to know more about them, what they are most excited for and their roles as the newly elected Mr. and Ms. GT.
Kirby Criswell is a fourth-year BA major with a concentration in Supply Chain and Operations. During his time at Tech, Criswell has been involved with the EXCEL program, UJC, FC, KNIT, Ramblin’ Reck Club, Wreck Camp and FASET.
Jolie Fouts is a fourth-year BA major from Peachtree City, Georgia. She has been involved in several activities around campus including the Circle of Sisterhood, Collegiate Panhellenic Council Executive Board, Phi Mu and is a cheerleader for the Institute.
What role do you think Mr. and Ms. GT play on campus?
Criswell: I think the role of Mr. and Ms. GT is to be an ambassador of the Georgia Tech spirit.
I hope that after interacting with Mr. and Ms. GT, people can get a sense of the Georgia Tech community.
That Mr. and Ms. GT can make people feel welcomed, supported and encouraged just as the Tech community has for me these past four years.
Fouts: I think Mr. and Ms. GT serve primarily as role models for students and ambassadors for the Institute.
We are here to let our love for Georgia Tech be known by the people we meet, and we’re also here to help others throughout their Tech journeys. Whether that’s as a mentor, a friend, a classmate or an employee, Mr. and Ms. GT are really just here to help others make their Tech experience everything they want it to be.
What drew you to apply for Mr./Ms. GT?
Criswell: Georgia Tech was not my top college, but after my time here at Tech, I have absolutely fallen in love with this school. The students, the professors, the faculty, the traditions and everything Georgia Tech amazes me. I was drawn to apply to Mr. GT because I wanted to represent this wonderful Institution.
Fouts: Ms. Georgia Tech has always been on my mind ever since I was a freshman. Several of the Mr. & Ms. GT’s in my years were personal mentors of mine in Scheller, so I deeply respected them and knew how much they had poured into this school. They were always so kind and passionate about helping out others.
I think looking up to them so much was the primary driver for me to apply when I was eligible.
What has been your favorite part about being a student at Tech thus far?
Criswell: The people here are by far my favorite thing about being a student. I love being surrounded by such motivated and determined people. It inspires me to push myself to be my best self. I feel so lucky and honored to know the people that are going to go out and change the world.
I get to tell my kids one day that I knew that person that found a cure for cancer, or made it to Mars, or invented the next iPhone. We are all so fortunate to go to a school that encourages us to pursue our dreams and give us the resources to make them reality.
Fouts: My favorite part about being a student here is that [it] is an extremely unique experience that none of my friends at other schools can ever really understand. We have a very distinct culture, we are extremely bright and driven as students, but there isn’t that cutthroat competitive energy that you often see at other high-achieving universities. We want to make an impact, but we don’t just talk about it.
Students here are actually willing to put in the work to make things better for ourselves and our community, and I think that’s pretty hard to come by now. Tech is overall just a unique school, and that’s my favorite part about being a student here.
How do you believe you embody the Tech spirit?
Criswell: Georgia Tech’s motto is ‘Progress and Service.’ I believe I have tried my hardest to embody that in everything I do. I try to make sure that all the things I have been involved with a[re] progressing society forward and serving the community. I think my time on FASET exec is a perfect example. I was able to progress the program forward by creating new events while also serving the student body.
Fouts: To me, Tech is unique and confident in the space it has carved out among other universities. It knows its strengths but is also honest about its weaknesses. Its students work hard, play hard, and support each other along the way. They are resilient and strong but also compassionate and understanding. Our students have big dreams but also have the work ethic and dedication to make these dreams a reality. I’ve tried my very best to uphold the Tech tradition and spirit characterized by these things.
What is your favorite Tech sport and/or tradition?
Criswell: My favorite Georgia Tech tradition is the Mini 500. I don’t know who came up with a tricycle race as a staple of Georgia Tech traditions, but I want to meet them.
I love seeing how excited we get to watch a bunch of people try their hardest to get a tricycle up Freshmen Hill.
Fouts: I feel like I really shouldn’t answer this because given my role as a cheerleader, I love all sports equally, but I will say that I especially love Georgia Tech volleyball.
Those women are amazing, and the energy in O’Keefe during their games is unmatched. I’ve been able to cheer for volleyball games for the past 3 years and meet the team, and I am hard pressed to find a more impressive group of women on campus. They truly are role models, and I am so excited to cheer them on into post-season.
What is your favorite spot on campus and why?
Criswell: Easily the fifth floor of the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons, specifically the bench to the right of the stairs. This is the place where I first told my dear friend Christina that I was gay. She was the first person I ever came out to, and that moment and location will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Fouts: My favorite spot on campus is the Scheller Undergrad Commons.
It’s a newly renovated collaboration space only open to Scheller Undergrad students, so it’s always quiet and a good study spot.
It also has TV screens that I can connect to my laptop so everyone in my group can see what we’re working on.
I’m also almost guaranteed to see one of my friends there every time I go. Overall, best study space on campus for business majors!
What do you hope to do for the rest of this year in your role?
Criswell: I hope I can be used as an ambassador for Georgia Tech[.] I want to be able to use this role to help make this Institute even better and show other people just how amazing our school is.
Fouts: I really want to educate the general student body about the importance of philanthropy and how to use your resources to serve others in effective and sustainable ways. I feel like that’s been my soapbox since starting at GT, and I really want to share what I’ve learned with other students. There’s a lot of need in our Atlanta community, and Tech students have the ability to meet these needs.
However, not all philanthropy is good philanthropy, and I want to help other Tech students know the difference so that they can align themselves with organizations that are serving others well. I also want to let students know that serving others is easier than they may think, but it is crucial for the continued development of our cities.
If being Ms. GT is the platform from which I can share this information, then I’m excited to get started!
Is there any advice you would like to share to incoming or younger Tech students?
Criswell: Be yourself! It is easy to look around and see what everyone else is doing and compare yourself to them and feel that you don’t belong.
However, it is crucial that you be yourself. You are here at Georgia Tech for a reason, and that is to explore and grow your passion. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. It only matters that you enjoy what you are doing.
Fouts: It’s definitely okay to try everything once, but you don’t need to stick with something you’re not interested in just because it seems like you should or it’s a “good thing to do.”
Being the most involved person on campus won’t make you happy, and it will take away from your ability to love on others and care for yourself.
Try to narrow down your involvements to a few things that you are really passionate about, and dive deep into those things. You will find that you are a better participant, leader, and worker in these things because your heart is truly in them and you aren’t spreading yourself too thin.
What are your plans after college and how do you think this position will help you in the future?
Criswell: I have dual citizenship in Ireland, so after graduation I hope to live in Ireland for a year or two. I want to work abroad and travel some while I am young. After that I would like to start my own non-profit focusing on homelessness and mental health issues within the LGBTQIA+ community.
I believe that this position will help me keep a great network of hard-working people that will help me accomplish my goals in the future.
Fouts: After graduation, I will be working for Chick-fil-A in their Corporate Social Responsibility department on the Community Affairs team.
I’ve been working part-time in this role since May, and I get to coordinate volunteerism efforts between our staff and the Atlanta nonprofit community in the fields of hunger, homelessness and education. It is absolutely my dream job, and I can’t wait to continue with this group.
Being Ms. GT will help me show others that I meet in my job that Georgia Tech cares about its Atlanta community and is committed to the betterment of our city through philanthropy and service.
I am excited about the possibility of being the one who can share Tech’s vision on service with others who currently work in the philanthropy space.