"This is going to be truth-telling 101," Suskind said as he began his speech, jumping off the stage to walk among the students. "I'm here to tell you stuff that even the frank Madeline (Wake, university provost) won't tell you."

The audience enjoyed his humor.

"It was a great start, being funny, because then we really listened with the serious stuff," said freshman Jon Klinger, who attended the speech.

Suskind told stories from his own life as well as the college life of Cedric Jennings, the main character from his book, touching on several circumstances that freshmen have already run into.

"How many of your mothers made your beds when they dropped you off," Suskind said prompting the crowd by holding up his own hand.

The majority of the audience members raised their hand, laughing slightly at the large number of others whose mother had made their beds.

Suskind commented that Cedric's mother had made his bed too and when he asked a psychologist why moms do that the psychologist told him that it is the last thing the mother can do for her child. After that, there is nothing more for them to do.

"You are right now at this incredible moment of launch," Suskind told those gathered. "It's incredible."

Those who attended the event found that Suskind's overall theme covered two topics: knowing oneself and branching out to others.

"He talked about how we need to get into each other's skin and reach out," said Cheryl Maranto, associate dean of the College of Business Administration.

"Find the person least like you and say 'wanna hang,'" Suskind said. "It's the key."

"He helped us look at how we might use our own gifts and talents," said Susan Mountin, director of Manresa Project

"You need to say, this is my journey and it will be determined by what I do up ahead," Suskind said.

Throughout the speech, Suskind stressed the importance for freshmen to grow as people and to analyze who they are by looking at their beliefs.

"Part of what college is all about is tearing the dogmas out and looking at them in the sunlight," Suskind said.

Suskind shared with the crowd part of a letter his dad wrote to him and his older brother when their dad was dying of pancreatic cancer.

"Do something worthwhile with your life," Suskind recalled the letter saying. "Whatever the while is make it worth its while. Don't compromise."

Suskind ended after summarizing a speech of Martin Luther King Jr.'s he had heard on National Public Radio. King, speaking before he was well known, told the congregation that people needed to bridge the gap between the races, creating an arc.

"I thought about that arc," Suskind said. "It doesn't bend on it's own. It bends when people of open hearts reach out and pull. And I pray to God that you pull with all your strength."

Before the large audience, Suskind met in a more intimate setting with roughly 20 journalism majors in Johnston Hall to talk frankly with students who are pursing a career in his own field.

"Suskind talked about how journalism is a high-fulfillment, low compensation career, but that in the pure form journalists had a mission to 'tell the truth' and were less constrained by financial reasons to be truth-tellers," Mountin said.

"To be sure if you go into journalism you will be in for long hours and discounted pay," Suskind said.

Suskind wasn't trying to discourage potential journalists to take up more lucrative careers.

"I'm a partisan, strongly recommending you don't let the siren song (of advertising or public relations) pull you away." Suskind said. "Your job is not to sell. You are there in the service of truth."

After his general audience, Suskind signed copies of his book Mountin said.

From there he went to a dinner of Ethiopian cuisine held at the Multicultural Center. Members of the McCormick Leadership CommUNITY, freshmen students who live on the designated diversity floors in McCormick Hall, were invited to attend, said Marlene DeLaCruz-Guzman, assistant dean for multi-cultural programs. Only a couple of students couldn't attend because of classes.

The students were given the opportunity to ask follow-up questions regarding "A Hope in the Unseen."

DeLaCruz-Guzman said Suskind suggested that students get to know others and "get involved because it is only through being involved that you are really living."

"The students were so excited they didn't know what to do with the energy," DeLaCruz-Guzman said. "They were so excited."