University of Rochester

Rap Video Introduces Prospective Students to Rochester

March 7, 2012

The latest video created by the University of Rochester's Admissions Office gives prospective students facts and figures about the University with a hip hop twist.

In the video, released on Wednesday, March 7, popular all-male campus a cappella group, the Midnight Ramblers, rap in more than 20 locations, including the iconic Rush Rhees Library, I.M. Pei-designed Wilson Commons, and Rochester's underground subway tunnel. The video's chorus promises "one hundred percent reason you remember our name."

"We wanted high school students to see the many options available," said Satyajit Dattagupta, director of enrollment communications, who initiated the concept. "The music video captures the energy, enthusiasm, and creativity here."

Admissions counselor Michael Shea '09, '11W (MS) lent his talents as an amateur lyricist, drawing on his own experiences in Rochester courses including History of Jazz, taught by senior presidential advisor and University Dean Paul Burgett, and an address from energy secretary and Nobel physics laureate Steven Chu '70. Incorporating Rochester's flexibility for students to build their own curriculum and its place on Kaplan's 2007 "25 New Ivies" list made for an unusual rap challenge.

Along the way, Shea hoped high school students also will catch pop culture references like the Kardashian sisters and unique slices of Rochester life. "If we could have made it even better, we would see Alec Baldwin shopping with his mother," Shea joked, referencing local ads from regionally-headquartered grocery giant Wegmans.

Shea's collaborators included in-house videographer Chris Niswonger, who selected showcase University and city locations that would resonate with students. "You can watch it over and over again and learn something new," Niswonger said. "If someone doesn't know about the University, they can dig deeper and get a different experience each time."

Noah Berg '12, the general manager for the Ramblers, blended Shea's lyrics with a derivative interpretation of Fort Minor's Remember the Name. The fast rap at 2:14 shows Aaron Michalko '14 riffing in real time from an Admissions Office brochure.

"We were reading the facts sheet and it just flowed," Michalko, a native of Canandaigua, N.Y., explained. "What you hear is nearly verbatim."

"The video was a way for us to spread our passion for the University musically and explain why it's awesome to come here," explained Jared Suresky '12, a Ramblers soloist. "It adds spice and flare to Rochester. I think Mike and Chris fused that message."

Added Shea, "We want proud alumni to say, 'That's where I went to college.' "