Prominent Tech figures give advice to freshmen


MEET…THE MAN WHO RUNS THE PLACE: Institute President G. P. “Bud” Peterson

Holding a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, Peterson has been president at Tech since April 2009.

Before that, he held top academic and administrative positions at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Texas A&M University. Peterson has also served on the National Science Board (the scientific advisors to the President and Congress) since 2008.

As a scientist and engineer, Peterson has authored or co-authored over 300 written works and holds eight patents.

“I met my wife Val my freshman year—best thing that ever happened to me. Other than that, I think my freshman year gave me confidence. I was able to do some things that I had never tried before, and I found that I could actually do them,” Peterson said regarding his own freshman year at Kansas St.


Since the 1980s, Buzz has been promoted from a particularly enthusiastic yellow-clad cheerleader to an icon on campus. Buzz appears in person at games, is printed on official Tech documents and promotions and the name is attached to the ubiquitous BuzzCard.

Though Buzz is technically a cheerleader, he or she must be one of the most physically fit on the team. Besides typical cheering and running around in a stifling costume, Buzz does a push-up for every Tech point at football games – fortunately, this was long after the Cumberland game.

Buzz has placed first and second in various national mascot challenges if not just for general excellence then for active public displays.

In a 1999 game against Duke, Buzz defended himself against the Blue Devil—armed with a giant flyswatter—by beating him with his own weapon and then breaking it in front of the mortified Duke fans.


In the 1920s, Tech mistakenly issued then-freshman William Smith two admission applications; Smith saw this as an opportunity, and both he and his fictional George P. Burdell applied. Both were admitted, registered for classes and graduated in the class of 1930. Smith and his fellow conspirators then revealed the prank, much to the chagrin of the administration; however, the students had already adopted George, and he continued to earn his master’s degree.

Burdell continued his career in the armed forces, appearing on plane, ship and submarine rosters, and articles abound in Atlanta publications bear his name on the byline. One of Burdell’s most recent achievements was garnering the most votes in Time Magazine’s 2001 Person of the Year; naturally, Time caught on and foiled the plot.

Still, Burdell lives on as the official Tech alias and having the campus general store in the Student Center named after him.


Since becoming Athletic Director in 2006, Radakovich has seen one of the most successful sports campaigns in Tech’s history: a combined win-loss record of 213-80 for the Yellow Jackets’ teams.

After joining Tech, he started the Athletic Director’s Initiative Fund, now worth more than $12 million and dedicated to go beyond normal budgetary expenditures on special projects.

From his experiences as a freshman at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he offers this advice to the next Tech class.

“I wished I had used the resources more that were available to me when I was first starting college. They were all around me but I tried to do too much on my own. I have since gotten a bit smarter and learned to take advantage of the all the resources available [to me] to make better and more effective choices,” Radakovich said.


For his third year in the Student Government Association (SGA), Boone, a fourth-year MGT major, will be responsible for overseeing SGA as a whole and holding veto power over bills from the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR).

He has been involved with several student and institute organizations on campus since his first year, a time when he realized something important about college.

“I wish I learned [as a freshman] that the next four years travel at warp speed. I realized this the summer after my freshman year, and I quickly began getting involved and pursuing activities that would allow me to give back to Tech. That’s what kept me motivated to run for Student Body President, and it’s what motivates me everyday to try to make a difference. I’d tell any freshman to explore this campus and find a way to leave your mark,” Boone said.


As a Ph.D. student studying organic chemistry, Baldridge has served as a graduate senator for three years and as the Student Welfare Chair. Baldridge has earned several fellowships, including a Student and Teacher Enhancement Program (STEP) Fellowship, through which he works with faculty at Marietta High School to mentor younger students competing in science fairs. He was also a student core contributor to the recent Strategic Vision, and in 2008 he received recognition as the most outstanding teaching assistant in chemistry.

“The major thing that has stuck with me since the first year [at Tech]… is the large input students have on Georgia Tech campus. This input is unmatched by any other institution of higher learning that I know of, and I feel it is something that separates Georgia Tech from all others,” Baldridge said of his time since his move from Piedmont College to Tech.


For her third year in the Student Government Association (SGA), Morales will be responsible for coordinating and chairing the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR), which controls funding for student activities and organizations.

Now a fourth-year BCHM major, Morales has had the time to determine just what about freshman year has kept her going through Tech’s rigor and SGA’s dedication.

“One of the most important things that I found was that I am most productive and most motivated when I am busiest. I wish that I had been more involved my freshman year. I had time, so I was able to procrastinate, but being busy has forced me to manage my time well, and I actually think I have a better balance now than I had back then. I would definitely encourage freshmen to find activities that they enjoy, make time for them and take opportunities to meet other people,” Morales said.


During her time as a Ph.D. student studying industrial and organizational psychology, Schnure has been strongly involved in the graduate Student Government Association (SGA) as a senator and an executive community member.

She recently appeared on National Public Radio (NPR) to talk about her research on narcissistic leaders, noting that their negative personality traits, or “dark sides,” often show up to prevent good leadership.

Though not as particularly relevant to freshman as the undergraduate SGA is, Schnure can still offer a word of advice to the incoming freshmen.

“This piece of advice certainly transcends location: use your calendar [or] planner. There’s no worse feeling than that stomach drop you get when you realized you’ve missed a meeting or assignment simply because you didn’t write it down. Don’t learn this the hard way,” Schnure said.