Another Eventful Weekend!

by Zach, a Patriot Blogger

First off, shout out to Christopher Columbus and his team of explorers for discovering the West; without him, I wouldn’t have had a three day weekend, including a paid day off on Monday (YEAH federal government!), and the opportunities I was able to take advantage of.

This past weekend was the first annual Tau Sigma National Leadership Conference, held in Washington, DC, in the Washington Court Hotel.  Tau Sigma is the national honor society established solely for transfer students, and is meant to provide a scholastic organization for transfer students who may otherwise have a hard time establishing themselves in a new school.  I’m the Vice President of the chapter here at George Mason, and as an executive board member I was invited out to the conference to stay in the hotel and take advantage of some leadership and career development workshops held for the students.  It was awesome!

Friday after work, I hopped on the metro and took the train over to Union Station, which I always forget is a pretty significant landmark in the city as a train station and hub for just about every other type of major transportation along the East Coast.

Union Station, just a few blocks north of the Capitol building.

Just a few blocks over from Union Station was the hotel that Tau Sigma so kindly had rented out for the weekend, the Washington Court Hotel.  Some of us were lucky enough (I was not among the lucky) to have a room with sweeping views of the Capitol and other landmarks along the National Mall, though let’s be honest, I had no expectations going in but was surprised to find a pretty cool hotel lined up for us.  Friday night we worked with a program called “Do What You Are,” which works with a personality indicator to help the user discover what strengths or weaknesses they have in regards to leadership roles and applies those qualities to potential career paths.  I’ve worked with similar programs through the LEAD Office here on campus (CHECK THEM OUT!) but really never get tired of learning what aspects of my own character I can work on to improve myself as a future leader.  The best part was being able to work through some of the workshops with people from all over the country; I spoke to a few Tau Sigma chapters from California, Seattle, Nebraska, even North Dakota, and it was definitely interesting to see how their views were different from one another, not to mention my own.

A quick shot of the hotel lobby.

On Saturday morning, we were shepherded around several of the ballrooms that were on the hotel’s main floor for a couple of other workshops, these related to practices that had been determined best to not only build a chapter from the ground up but also get more involved and active in the community (something very important to me).  Again, the insight provided by such a wide range of people with different experiences will hopefully prove invaluable in the coming months as we try to organize our own Tau Sigma chapter.  We met once more to discuss our results from the “Do What You Are” exercise before being turned loose into the city for the day.  I have to say, living in the area really makes you oblivious to just how awesome the city of Washington, DC, is and how huge it is for some of these other students who had never visited to be in the nation’s capital.  I try to keep it in perspective and remember to appreciate all of the aspects that make it so great, but sometimes it takes spending the day with REAL tourists to really appreciate what we here at George Mason have so close.  Safe to say it brings a new light to my own adventures when I spend the day with giddy college students trying to take a picture of every museum, monument, and statue that line the city streets…definitely another great day.

I’ve got a ton more going on that I haven’t even started to tell you about!  This was just another rewarding weekend taking advantage of some of the extracurricular activities offered here at George Mason as well as its proximity to Washington, DC (you’ll see that’s a common theme).  You’ll hear again from me soon with some more updates (and yes, some items a little more directly tied to GMU, PROMISE!)


Just another day in Washington, DC

by Zach, a Patriot Blogger

What’s up everybody.  I’m writing this post as I finish up refueling on a half chicken/half steak burrito from the one and only, so I’m pretty motivated to get writing.  Just wanted to share a few details of the AWESOME weekend I just wrapped up and keep you updated with some of the things I’ve got going on (I guess “what a college student experiences”).

One of the many houses that filled The Mall on Saturday

First off, I consider myself somewhat of a DC afficionado; I work in southwest and spend a decent percentage of my weekends playing the role of tourist and exploring just about anything that may be going on.  This past weekend, the Department of Energy put on its biannual Solar Decathlon (more info can be found at their official website here ) in which a bunch of schools from around the world constructed environmentally-sustainable and somewhat “affordable” housing and put their prototypes up for judging.  These things were so cool; I don’t consider myself to be too much of a green person, but the concepts and systems these teams had put into their houses were incredible.

The weather may not have been cooperating, but even in the clouds and rain these  houses were generating more energy than they were using through their solar and geothermal systems.  There was generally about a 10 or 15 minute wait at each house to get the walkthrough and explore, but it was definitely worth it.  I actually think the University of Maryland team, repping the region proudly and with by far the largest crowds, wound up winning the competition, which took into consideration energy consumption, cost of construction, etc.  Empowerhouse, the brainchild of a number of institutions, is being moved to northeast DC in the coming weeks to be reconstructed as the next project for the Washington DC chapter of Habitat for Humanity.  Overall, an awesome learning experience.

George and I became fast friends.

Luckily, the day continued.  My friend Joel and I spent a few hours walking around the area surrounding the Mall, exploring some new places and stumbling across the coolest fresh seafood market tucked away under an overpass, right off the Chesapeake Bay.  Most importantly, I found George!!  I had no idea, but George Mason was obviously so well regarded he was rewarded with not only his own school but also a peaceful little monument along the waterfront.  Clearly I had to snap a pic or two; George was very understanding, and actually turned out to be a hilarious dude.  We swapped a few stories, I told him about life as a Patriot and he shared his experiences building our country (mine obviously were more impressive), and after a few minutes we shook hands and moved on.

We spent Sunday poking around Georgetown a little bit and venturing into the city just to see what was out there, but unfortunately that was a whole lot less interesting and I won’t bore you with what details made it out alive.  ANYways, just a quick update on where things are in school, I’ve got a couple of leadership seminars coming up this week at Mason, and this coming weekend I’m getting put up in a swanky hotel near Capitol Hill for the Tau Sigma National Leadership Conference.  According to the schedule of events, we’re being taken out on a tour bus to check out the monuments on Saturday night, and that being right up my alley I’m way pumped.  Luckily there are no exams or presentations this week in the classroom, so I’ve got plenty of time to catch up with some papers and big projects that are slowly creeping up.  ‘Til next time!  (Still working on that sign-off)

That George is such a cut-up. I think we were talking about those powder wigs he used to wear...

Consider this my Eharmony introduction…

by Zach, a Patriot Blogger 

What’s going on?!  Welcome to the next website to take the world wide web by storm; I’m anticipating Facebook numbers in terms of daily hits (I’m a dreamer).  To any fellow Patriots who may eventually stumble upon this blog, hopefully I make you all proud, and to those of you here to learn a little more about being a student here at George Mason, I’m keeping my fingers crossed in hopes you’ll learn something.

It’s going to be quite a year, and just as a quick introduction (on top of my bio, which you’ll find under “The Patriot Bloggers” tab at the top of your screen) I’ll give you the speed dating rundown on who I am.

My name is Zach, and I will be graduating in May 2012 with a B.S. in Criminology, Law, and Society with a concentration in Homeland Security and Justice.  Here’s where it gets a little tricky; though I will absolutely be finishing up in a few months, I am TECHNICALLY (in title only) a junior.  I am in the middle of a 22 credit hour semester (!) and I plan on finishing up with 25 credits in the spring to wrap it all up, so you can say I’m a little busy.  A quick review of my schedule: Biology, Bioterrorism Law and Policy (awesome), Homeland Security, Law and Justice Around the World, a course built around my internship, and the CLS department honors seminar, in which we’re doing some research into sexual assault victimization.  It’s a pretty wide range of topics, but even with all of the work I’m having a blast so far this semester.  Outside of the classroom, I’m interning with the Department of Homeland Security three days a week and am working with several organizations on campus (you’ll hear plenty about those as the semester goes on).  I like to spend my weekends taking a deep breath, dreaming of long walks on the beach, doing some community service projects, exploring the greatest city on earth (our nation’s capital), and maybe fitting in a conference or two.

Yes, I like to stay busy.

As you’ll find out over the next few months, I have a lot going on and usually even more to talk about.  As we go on, feel free to hit me with questions or ideas for future posts either here in the comments section or I’m even accessible via Twitter (@USAandCHIPOTLE).  I’ll work on livening things up with some pictures and whatever else seems to fit to keep you entertained, it’s a learning process so you’ll have to bear with me a little bit.  It’s going to be a great year, and I can tell I love you already.  I’ll start brainstorming some sort of clever sign off phrase also, so we have some closure…