10/19/2005 at 01:00 PM EDT
Students in a film course at New York's Hunter College got a crash course in celebrity Tuesday when Madonna dropped in to host a 20-minute Q&A with the class, PEOPLE reports.
The class had just watched the Material Girl's new documentary, I'm Going to Tell You a Secret, which chronicles the pop star's 2004 tour. When the lights went up, the 47-year-old singer walked in.
Her appearance was part of mtvU's Stand In series, in which celebrities, politicians and businesspeople such as Bill Gates, Marilyn Manson, Shimon Peres and Kayne West have filled in for college professors.
Madonna addressed her early desire for success for the students, many of whom were the same age when she moved to New York to pursue fame, the Associated Press reports.
"I wanted to be different," she said. "I wanted to be somebody."
She said that achieving success is one of those things that depends on the person pursuing it. "You're either hungry and determined to make it, or you're not. I know a lot of people who, when they get rejected, they accept what people said about them. I never did that," she said.
Students in the class were impressed with the session. "I died," said Michelle Cast, 23. "She looked amazing and was very willing to answer everyone's questions."
The pop star isn't the only celebrity to treat New York college students this past week. On Friday, George Clooney stood in for a professor at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism following a screening of his new film, Good Night, and Good Luck, about broadcaster Edward R. Murrow during the McCarthy era.
Clooney had some salient advice for the would-be journalists: "Grow up and stick your neck out and get it burned every once in a while. That's how you get things done," he told the class.