By Caroline Forde
Houseguests on the CBS reality show “Big Brother” are told to live by one rule: Expect the unexpected. Rider students, too, can expect the unexpected when “Big Brother” alum Dan Gheesling comes to speak at Rider on Sept. 13.
Gheesling, however, will not be coming to Rider to discuss his reality fame. Instead, he will be giving a motivational speech to the general student body, including the incoming Emerging Leaders class.
A teacher before becoming a reality star, Gheesling appeared on the CBS show twice, winning the $500,000 grand prize in Season 10 and the smaller $50,000 prize in Season 14, when he came in second place to college student Ian Terry.
Gheesling is clearly no stranger to leadership, and holds a few records from the series that he’s made him a household name. “Big Brother” is a competition where winning mostly depends on strong social relationships. As a result, he was the leader of multiple alliances.
He has not allowed all of the fame to go to his head. Instead, he travels to colleges throughout the country giving motivational speeches on the importance of student leadership.
Nick Barbati, director of the Emerging Leaders program and assistant director of campus life, encourages students to attend the “thought-provoking” and “motivational” talk. Audience members do not have to fret if they are unfamiliar with “Big Brother,” either.
“Dan Gheesling was not selected for his notoriety from television — he is one of the preeminent college leadership speakers,” Barbati said. “His presentation to last year’s Emerging Leaders class was so impactful for the students, and many still reference the lessons from it today.”
Gheesling has also written multiple books that are meant to help people of all ages to reach their maximum leadership potential. Additionally, he has written a book that thoroughly explains how to get on reality television, something that the multiple-time reality television show participant clearly knows a lot about.
“After watching ‘Big Brother’ for years, I came to learn and love how smart Dan is,” said Tolani Faloye, a junior marketing major who attended Gheesling’s speech last year. “He also taught strategy and used common sense as a lot of people in the business world should.”
Gheesling’s talk was inspiring to students last year, Barbati said. He encouraged them to become great future leaders. Having Gheesling back on campus for a second time was something that Barbati wanted for students.
“I asked him to return because his leadership presentation is geared towards freshmen and/or students new to leadership,” Barbati explained. “They have not heard his words before and therefore would greatly benefit from this experience.”
Barbati has even endorsed Gheesling, writing on Gheesling’s website, “Dan delivers the message of student leadership in a way that is adaptive and relatable. It’s something you can immediately take into your professional and personal lives. He gives students what I believe is the best message available on the college circuit.”
Printed in the 9/3/14 edition.