When Benjamin Chang graduated with his master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering in December of 2016, his walk across the stage was both a celebration and an unveiling. Chang had been keeping a secret for the past two and a half years. Unbeknownst to even his closest friends, Chang was the man behind Buzz—the beloved Georgia Tech mascot.
Tradition holds that each student who has been Buzz is carried across the stage by the current mascot during their graduation ceremony, thereby revealing their identity to all.
So what is it actually like to be Buzz? Read on as Chang shares his metamorphosis into the frenetic, silly, spirit-filled bug.
You were involved in the Ramblin’ Reck Club as an undergraduate at Georgia Tech. Was that your entry into becoming Buzz?
Not exactly. I joined the Ramblin' Reck Club to help spread my love and passion for Tech. While in the club, I met a retired cheerleader, Allison Oesterle, who helped inform, encourage, and motivate me to try out.
How did you get to be Buzz—i.e. is there an application/try outs?
One becomes Buzz by trying out! Tryouts are at the end of the spring semester. More information can be found on the Georgia Tech Cheerleading website.
Why did you want to be Buzz?
I wanted to be Buzz because I always had a passion for Georgia Tech and I also wanted to bring happiness to others. After being at Tech for a few semesters, I realized that Buzz would be the best way for me to use my talents to do just that!
What were your duties as Buzz?
As Buzz I had to attend morning workouts at 5:30 am, appearances at sporting events, and appearances at various other on-campus and off-campus events.
What kind of schedule did you keep?
My schedule for Buzz was very volatile and varied week by week. Some weeks, due to appearance requests, I was Buzz for 10 hours. Other weeks, I had no appearances at all. Just like Buzz, you never knew what could happen next!
What’s it like inside that costume?
Being in the suit is an experience mentally and physically. Mentally, the feeling of Buzz just takes over and I get a rush of euphoria. I get in the mindset that I want to be as entertaining as possible, everyone's your friend, and have no idea what I'm going to do. Physically, aside from the adrenaline rush, it is a unique experience. You have very limited visibility and you’re in a very humid and hot environment. The suit traps heat and vapors so it's kind of like a mini sauna, but I didn't mind. I loved being Buzz.
What was the best part of being Buzz?
The best part of being Buzz for me was just making peoples' days. It’s always a nice feeling to cheer people up if they had a rough day or if they just needed that one extra kick of cheer to keep them going. One memory that sticks out to me is one summer I was on my way to an appearance when I high fived someone on my way. The next day I gave someone a hug and it turned out he was the same guy I high fived the day before. He told me that my high five really helped him get through a tough day. Even those small interactions can help make someone's day better.
What was the most challenging part of being Buzz?
The most challenging part was maintaining the balance between school and Buzzing. Sometimes, I'd have multiple appearances on the same weeks as I had tests. One particularly tricky situation was in the spring of 2016 when I attended a promotional event for the upcoming game against Boston College. We were on location in Dublin, Ireland. I was lucky enough to go abroad as Buzz, but I also had a test during the trip. I got an excused absence and was able to make up the test, but I had to take it the day after I returned, jet lagged and wiped out.
While playing Buzz, can you describe an event in particular that was special to you?
One particular event that was special to me was the ACC men's basketball tournament in March of 2015. As part of the tournament, the mascots had an appearance in a Greensboro area children's hospital. It felt amazing to bring just a little bit of fun into the lives of those kids. Seeing the smiles on their faces and hearing their laughter is something I'll never forget.
Now that he's hung up his antenna, Chang is taking a break before starting a position as a technical account manager with Microsoft in Austin, Texas.
ECE M.S. student Benjamin Chang with Buzz
Last revised February 15, 2017