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Freshman Takes the Win in Virtual Talent Competition

Hunter College freshman Andie Carroll won “Hunter’s Got New Talent,” a virtual competition exclusively for freshmen and transfer students.

As part of the line-up of welcome week activities for new students, the virtual talent show accepted submissions solely from freshmen and transfer students. This was a break from tradition, according to the event’s host, Hunter’s Undergraduate Student Government.

“We wanted to try something virtually and decided let’s focus on them,” said Hardik Bhaskar, USG president.

Although Carroll wishes to pursue nursing professionally, she has been singing her whole life and been playing guitar for the last six years. For this competition, Carroll performed an unnamed song by Philadelphia musician Lizzy McAlpine.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” said Carroll, who won 122 of the 251 votes. The New Paltz resident also added that despite not always being self-assured in her abilities, this competition bolstered her self-esteem.

“It’s definitely a boost of confidence,” the 18-year-old said.

Every year from 2015 to 2019, Hunter College enrolled between 2,200 and 2,600 new freshmen as well as 2,000 new transfer students into its undergraduate-degree seeking student population. As custom, Hunter’s USG hosts in-person events to help freshmen and transfer students get familiar with their new school as well as build relationships with each other and existing students.

But this year, USG had to do this competition and other welcome week activities online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bhaskar says that the transition is challenging.

“It’s been tough doing social events that are not really social,” said Bhaskar, who added that USG would usually host events where they would share food and interact with hundreds of students. He also said that students currently do show interest in USG’s virtual events, but miss them because they are overwhelmed with schoolwork and other virtual events that are happening at the same time.

“It’s a bit weird because our numbers have dropped significantly,” he said in reference to student turnout for other virtual events USG has had.

Students submitted their talent pieces between August 26 and September 1. Although USG welcomed anything that could be considered a talent, students only submitted videos of themselves singing, playing instruments or drawing. From the submissions, USG chose three finalists and announced them on September 4 via an Instagram post. From there all Hunter students could cast a single vote by either commenting under the Instagram post or directly messaging the USG’s Instagram page. Voting ended on September 6 at 12 p.m. The USG announced Carroll as the winner on Tuesday at 1 p.m.

The other two finalists were Vasila Abdumuminova (drawing) and Paul Carano (flute). Abdumuminova drew a picture of Korean actor Woo Do Hwan, in a scene from a Korean drama. She said that she was happy with the competition.

“I did feel welcomed because the student government was nice about the whole thing,” said Abdumuminova, who is an illustrator for Dear Asian Youth, an organization dedicated to uplifting Asian Youth.

Along with this competition, the USG hosted Saturday Night Hangouts on August 29 and September 5 at 6 p.m. as part of welcome week. All students were invited.

Currently, the USG is planning study nights, a club fair, trivia competitions, student discussion forums, and other virtual events to keep students engaged. Although it is difficult, Bhaskar says that he wants to build a sense of community and be a support system for all students.

“It’s been tough but we’ll see how it goes,” he said. “I just want to be there for students even during the pandemic.”

The USG plans to host another “Hunter’s Got Talent” in the spring. It is unclear whether this will be a virtual, in-person, or hybrid competition.

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