Emerson orientation leader reaches internet stardom

by Beacon Staff • September 16, 2009

The problem was, Coburn was in Australia and short glitter and postage funds.,As an orientation leader this semester, Nicolas Coburn was supposed to send his freshman orientees some kind of glittering, sticker-encrusted letter of welcome before they arrived at Emerson College.

The problem was, Coburn was in Australia and short glitter and postage funds. So instead, he wrote rap lyrics and sent his charges a two-minute video about Emerson, himself and orientation week via YouTube.

"I never, as a freshman coming into Emerson, received a letter from my OL," said Coburn, a senior non-performance theater studies and writing, literature, and publishing double major. "I kind of overcompensated."

Coburn uploaded the video, titled "Greetings From Your Orientation Leader," on July 18 and sent it to just his eight orientees. Although Coburn may have intended for the video to have a small circulation, his rap has managed to receive 2,263 views as of Sept. 15 and The Boston Globe included Coburn in a piece on college orientation and modern technology.

"I honestly only sent it to my eight orientees," said Coburn on his video's popularity. "I'm not exactly sure how it was unearthed from the depths of YouTube."

The video starts with Coburn admitting he couldn't send out a "normal" welcome. The rap follows, punctuated by yellow boxes that pop up to translate his hip lyrics - explaining clubs, favorite music, and majors as he says them.

"Emerson is just the type of school that generally appreciates when you think creatively and outside the box," said Coburn, who at one point in the video dashes down a spiral staircase in blue-checked boxers and a scarf. "You can get really glittery, but you don't give a lot of your personality away in a letter."

Kerry Velez, one of Coburn's orientees, said friends of hers who attended other colleges didn't get the same experience.

"A lot of my friends went to orientation over the summer and it was all lectures," said Velez, whose friends told her their schools didn't do anything as personal. "I showed the video to people who didn't get orientation letters at all."

"It just made me really excited about orientation week," said Mariel Wade, another one of Coburn's orientees and a media studies major. She said no one outside of her group got anything like Coburn's video, adding that some freshmen she spoke with didn't receive any communication from their OLs.

"I thought it was really great. It was very funny and I got to know what he looked like and hear his voice."