By APRIL REYNOLDS
Whether they are doing their annual presentations to a
university seminar class in Davison Hall or speaking to campus organizations,
the trail of red shirts will lead right to the Student Speakers Bureau.
“The students’ overall duty is to help their fellow
students make wise college decisions,” Robert Burt, coordinator of the Student
Speakers Bureau and licensed professional counselor for Counseling Services,
Burt opted for a change this year to red from the previous
blue T-shirts, a decision he said he’s happy to have made. The red stands out
against the barrage of blue Tech T-shirts worn on campus, Burt said.
Caleb Smith, second-year member of the Student Speakers
Bureau and a senior marketing major, said it is about the connection from
student to student. Smith also said students are better able to make bonds with
Burt said this year also marks the 15th anniversary for
the organization, which was founded under the same mission it holds today, of
influencing students to make healthy and wise decisions. The blueprint for this
16-person group came in 1990 from a similar peer leadership group at the
University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Burt said.
Burt co-founded the Student Speakers Bureau with Mari Bel McKinney, former director of Counseling Services, and
has been coordinator ever since, Burt said. Burt and other members of
Counseling Services train the students to present on topics ranging from
alcohol abuse to stress management.
“We don’t try to be judgmental,” Burt said. “For
instance, we don’t tell people not to drink.”
Burt said he believes the job the students do is
invaluable for themselves and for their audiences.
“Some students take the class for their personal growth,”
Burt said. “Some take it to become a leader.”
Burt said he also believes in the importance of the
students addressing their peers. Burt said the counselors had the task of
addressing university seminar classes before it shifted to the Student Speakers
“[They’ve] been talking to freshmen for about the last
seven years,” Burt said. “And who wants to listen to an old man like me?”
Smith also said there is great importance in students
addressing each other. Everyone is already so used to getting technical
information from professors and adults, Smith said.
“I think having students present makes a huge
difference,” Smith said. “We’re much more able to get through.”
second year member of Students Speakers Bureau and a family and child studies
major, said the presentations are effective coming from one student to another,
yet she believes it varies among the students.
“Sometimes looking at the faces of some of them, you
wonder if you’re getting across,” Gremillion said.
“You have people from different backgrounds and you have to find a way to reach
Gremillion said she would love
to reach every student they address. Gremillion and
Smith both said they try to be good examples to other students.
“We become role models for freshmen,” Smith said. He also
said if someone is not able to live his life as a role model, he does not need
to be a student speaker.
As Smith said, a student speaker must have “a heart
that’s willing to serve and wants to invest in students.”