Spring 2014: My Great Day at NYU

By Michael Frazier

“This is going to sound really weird, but when I get on stages, I don’t get nervous — I get excited.”

CAS freshman Mohamed Hassan passionately recounted how it felt to be chosen as one of the six students to pitch ideas about their deepest passions at TEDxNYU: The Pitch. Held during Violet 100, NYU’s annual spirit week, the event brought together students of all years and schools to pitch — in 300 seconds — their passions, research or dreams in front of their peers.

The event ran similarly to the format of a conventional TEDx Talk, but judges decided which of the six students would get to move on to the global TEDxNYU in the spring. Out of the six students, Hassan was the only freshman on stage.

“My pitch was talking about the undergraduate mentality,” Hassan said. “How people think, since you’re younger than the other graduates, or people out in the real world, you can’t really get a job or do much in your career. So I just talked about my story as a journalist, like getting out there, and meeting all of these people.”

One would think it must have been a difficult and nerve-wracking process to get an idea, present it to the TEDx talk panelists and then do it again in front of peers of different school years. However, Hassan felt at ease putting himself out there.

Hassan applied for The Pitch on a whim. He saw it on Facebook and decided to pitch his idea, which was first about journalism. After reconsideration, Hassan realized that his topic was too broad.

“So after pitching my journalist idea, they said there was one line that stuck out to them,” he recounted. “’Everyone in this room — we are the doctors and the physicists and the actors and the actresses and the journalists and the preachers and the dreamers and the believers of our time, and every second that we chose to live is an important one.’ So that was very transcendental, that touched the judges.”

After being accepted, Hassan made his talk more geared towards the undergraduate students life since that was an universal idea he wanted to explore.

From there, Hassan prepared for a week and pitched his ideas in the Kimmel Eisner & Lubin Auditorium to a room of his peers. He said, “Even though I didn’t win, a lot of people said my talked moved them. And I noticed that from the questions I was getting, because you give your talk, and then there are a whole bunch of questions from the judges, and from the students who were in attendance.” Hassan was surprised by the reaction, “It amazed me that graduate students were asking me questions, and were talking to me in admiration … Someone actually said I made them cry.”

Not only were students in admiration of Mohamed’s ideas on bringing the undergraduate and graduate students together to form relationships, but Marc Wais, vice president of Global Student Affairs, was impressed to the point of extending an invitation to a lunch date with Mohamed to talk about planning Welcome Week events with him.

Mohamed said, “A lot of people are shy at first, and with the undergraduate mentality they’re afraid to reach their potential and approach these older people that can give them the experience and opportunities to do bigger things.” Mohamed’s hope was to form relationships of all kinds between all years of students, and ultimately end the inferiority complex students develop, because they become victim to the “undergraduate mentality.”

Mohamed said, “[My greatest moment so far has been] the TED Talk, because as soon as I finished a whole bunch of grad students, and Marc Wais … asked me to have lunch with him, and a few other representatives. A lot of grad students said I inspired them, and were glad that there were undergraduate students thinking the way I was.”

Not only was Mohamed approached by big shots on campus, but his peers revered him too. “I remember going to Violet Ball, and a group of people approached me, telling me they were glad to see the TEDx guys, they said ‘hey you’re the TEDx guy with that amazing pitch.’”

Mohamed’s best day thus far at NYU is one that will continue to have an impact on the campus.What can be taken away from Mohamed is, no matter what age or year you are, you can still do as much as the next-person you just have to put yourself out there.

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