Author Archives: Zak Suhar

About Zak Suhar

Hola a todos y bienvenidos a mi blog! I like all things business, spanish, eco, and study them all at Mount. One day, I hope to work for a green enterprise, or maybe become an entrepreneur. Find out more about what's tweetin @zmsuhar.

What it really means to be Thankful

What it really means to be Thankful

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This past Thanksgiving, I was grateful for many things. My parents came from out of town to spend a weekend full of family, feasting, football (Go Packers!), laughter and plenty of turkey comas. I also got to experience my first Black Friday working at the Nike Outlet at Aurora Farms. This definitely didn’t help me get over my sickness, but at least I was able to make it on television on News Net 5! My friend sharing with me a great SNL video of Will Ferrell and Chris Katan singing as Air Supply about Thanksgiving time capped off the weekend. A definite great way to end the weekend!

I also came across a recent photo my brother shared with me, which he found on Deviant Art. This really opened my eyes about what you really should be thankful for. I hope you find some meaning in this as well!

“If you have food in the fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world. If you have any money in the bank, your wallet and some spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy. If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture or the horrible pangs of starvation, you are luckier than 500 million people alive going through this suffering. If you can read this message you are more fortunate than the 3 billion people in the world who cannot read at all.”

What are you thankful for this Holiday season?

What’s with all the Manly Men? (A Movember Post)

What’s with all the Manly Men? (A Movember Post)

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There is a lot of buzz going around about “No Shave November,” and I have been seeing a plethora of people carrying impressive Ron Burgundy mustaches. Since I never knew the reasoning behind all this madness, I decided to sift through some beards and dig deep into the cause.

The first resource I searched was the urban dictionary. Accordingly, the month of November is when you don’t shave any hair on your body. Instead, you grow to become more bestial, brutish and manly. This dictionary said that the months of December, January, February and so on may also be included in this celebration of masculinity. For example February is “Forget to Shave February.” I quickly came to realize there were no answers here. So, I turned to my handy dandy Hip-Hoptionary. Again, no answers.

I finally found what I was looking for at the ever-so useful Wikipedia page. Movember (a portmanteau of the slang word “mo” for moustache and “November”) is an annual, month-long event involving the growing of moustaches/facial hair during the month of November. The event was conceived in 1999 by a group of Australian men from Adelaide.

Since 2004, the Movember Foundation charity has run Movember events to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer and depression in Australia and New Zealand. In 2007, events were held in Ireland, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, the United Kingdom, Israel, South Africa, Taiwan and finally the United States. In 2010, Movember merged with the testicular cancer event Tacheback (via Wikipedia). I also found some very impressive and detailed rules if you would like to participate, because I certainly cannot grow enough facial hair.

The rules of conduct given on the Movember site are:

  • Once registered at movember.com each mo bro must begin the 1st of Movember with a clean, shaved face.
  • For the entire month of Movember, each mo bro must grow and groom a moustache.
  • There is to be no joining of the mo to your side burns. (That’s considered a beard.)
  • There is to be no joining of the handlebars to your chin. (That’s considered a goatee.)
  • Each mo bro must conduct himself like a true country gentleman.

Information about how to register can be found here: http://us.movember.com/about/

So there you go, the final answer about what all the bearded/mustached men around campus are doing. I’m not sure if they all even realize the real cause for this, but I hope they help donate in some way or another. Although you may have class presentations or job interviews, maybe hide your roommate’s razor to support men’s health issues. Who knows, we might have the next Brett “The Diesel” Keisel beard here on our own campus.

The Holstee Manifesto

The Holstee Manifesto

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About a year or two ago, I came across a company called Holstee, a curated goods store that originally had only one good to sell – The Holstee Tee. It’s made of 100% recycled material. The shirt featured a unique holster positioned pocket … rethinking the classic t-shirt with focuses on fit, style, sustainability and functionality.

Over the course of the first year of business, the team designed and produced half a dozen new products including the recycled wallet, which is made of newspapers and plastic bags collected off the streets of India; The People Pendant, made of recycled acrylic scraps from a Chicago-area sign maker; and their Upcycled line of t-shirts, which highlight the lasting value of apparel. The reason I am so intrigued by this business model is because they are trying to drive social change, while making a lasting impact, but they are making some profits at the same time.

As the owner’s business starting to grow, they decided to write a manifesto of how their business was going, which became viral across the internet. The other day my brother shared with me a discount to their online store. I ordered a poster of the manifesto, which I will put on my wall so that I can look at it every day. Some of my favorite parts are:

  • If you don’t like something, change it.
  • Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.
  • Some opportunities only come once, seize them.

Lastly, my favorite part which inspired the quote I put for the Mount homepage … Live your dream, and wear your passion. Basically, it is important to do something you enjoy, love to do everyday and will make you happy. A lot of the quotes relate to my Spain study abroad experience coming up in less than two months as well. Crazy! I hope this post inspired you to make a change, do something different and out of the ordinary or just help you ponder life.

Bottle School Blitzing

Bottle School Blitzing

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Ever since my freshman year at Mount Union, I have been fortunate to be a part of Raider Relief, an awesome student organization here on campus. We have an underlying mission statement: Student-driven humanitarianism, helping those in need with passion, love and good deeds. Basically our group recognizes the needs of people less fortunate than ourselves and acts upon those needs in a fashion that is timely, sympathetic and rewarding. Some of our past philanthropic projects have been Soles for Souls, Hugs for Haiti, Help to Others, March Makeover and most recently a Walk 2 Remember.

Not only do we strive to impact Mount Union’s local community of Alliance, Ohio, but we extend help to people all over the world by partnering with other charitable organizations. By teaming up with other charities we have declared our organization as a non-profitable group, where 100% of all of our earnings are donated to those in need.

This year our project is a Bottle School Blitz – a 10-day community and campus-wide fund-raising effort. The project will benefit Hug it Forward, a not-for-profit organization with an innovative approach to improving the educational infrastructure of developing nations. Hug It Forward focuses on building schools in Guatemala out of plastics bottles and non-biodegradable trash. The area of Guatemala has around a 25% illiteracy rate and many places don’t even have schools for children to learn in. These places are recognizable from the non-profit’s executive director, who used to do Peace Corps work in the area, and is able to recognize communities in dire need.

The Bottle School Blitz project consists of two phases. The first of which (the community blitz) will take place on Saturday, November 19. Teams of student volunteers will staff tables set up outside of more than a dozen high-traffic retail locations throughout Alliance, asking shoppers for donations to support the project’s cause. The second phase will be campus based. Empty plastic beverage bottles will be issued to hundreds of students before they head home for Thanksgiving break. Each student will be challenged to fill his or her bottle with spare change from home and return to campus with a coin-filled bottle.

The last, and ongoing phase, is an online donation site for those who cannot help with the community or campus initiative. If you would like to donate or share the donation site with anyone, please click this link! I sure hope that everyone reading this can help our project in any way possible. Share it with friends, family and online … a little help by a lot of people can go a long way. Help be the change we want to see in the world!

5 Steps to Building a Personal Brand Online

5 Steps to Building a Personal Brand Online

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In a recent interview with Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Zuckerberg said that Facebook’s goal is not to build a platform; it’s to be across all of them. This quote really got me thinking about the world wide web as a whole and how it seems like every time you blink your eye there is a new technology starting up. Of course Facebook has dominated recently as far as social networking goes, where 48% of 18 to 34 year olds check Facebook right when they wake up. Also there are 206.2 million internet users in the United States, meaning 71.2% of the web audience is on Facebook. This also shouldn’t let people pass up great services like Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, all of which I like to use. As a matter of fact many people have become frustrated with Facebook because of so many changes they have already made and plan to do. It’s true though, people will click through their pains and still be addicted to the social network.

 

Along with Facebook’s success, across the world many popular platforms like Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress are heavily used. This comes to realize that there are so many services online that people can be a part of, which can easily add to your personal online image. A lot of people already have accounts in these services, but since the future is heavily technologically based, you might want to be involved in some more. I created a simple step guide to help you further improve this image online, which can be used to send to recruiters, share stories with friends and letting people get a better feel of who YOU are.

  • Utilize social media – Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Jumo, Flickr, Foursquare and Google+ are great ways to connect online.  I personally use these services to connect with friends and share photos. It is important to remember that when you use social networks anyone can see this information (aside from some privacy settings). There are many potential job employers who may not want to be seeing you partying it up! Don’t let this allow you from not having fun, just be smart.
  • Be social – When being present on many different platforms it is important that you are still using the full potential of the service. For example, my WordPress blog I update about once every two weeks, which is not frequent but I am not leaving is dormant. On this site as well and for blogs in general, it is important to read other posts and comment on them. The more you comment on other blogs, the more traffic you generate to your site.
  • Show professionalism – This goes along with being smart when utilizing social media, but now is your time to show off! By creating a profile on LinkedIn or a resume on Vizualize.me you can have a professional e-profile at hand. Also, try to stay connected to past employers and any employees since they can help you get a job down the road. You might be able to discuss topics or find jobs on these services that you wouldn’t be able to elsewhere.
  • Register a blog – You can create blogs for personal reasons, educational and informational reasons, business and corporate reasons or a multitude of other uses and purposes depending on what suits your fancy. There are many blog services like WordPress, Posterous, Tumblr and Blogger that all work well. Blogs are just a way for you to show your work, express ideas and share things you stumble upon. If you are passionate about photography, create a photoblog for instance. This is a good way for people to find out more about what your interests are and how you like to express yourself.
  • Create a home page – Some services like Flavors.me and About.me are a way to link all of your online profiles into one site. These sites can serve as a “homepage” linked to profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. This is a way for your brand to have some ground, and direct people to who can then later explore your profiles across the board. My homepage.

These are just a few steps that I have found some success in. For example, when contacting some recruiters about an internship they said they really enjoyed reading my blog. This hopefully will help them get a better feel of who I really am, and it will serve as a marketing tool for my personal brand. I hope these tips help, and just remember that each service rubs off on you in some way. Do any of you readers have any other services you like to use or recommend?

A Great Day in Sports

A Great Day in Sports

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This past weekend marked a very eventful day in the Mount Union sports world. Being a part of the football team, I can honestly say that our game against Baldwin-Wallace was single-handedly the best game I have experienced to date. The stadium was packed and loud, and it was a very fun environment to be a part of. The game was a deciding factor for the OAC title and essentially came down to one last play on 4th down for us.

The play was a jump ball thrown from Matt Piloto to Chris Denton, with two defenders covering Chris. Somehow he came down with the catch and the stadium erupted. The photo is from the athletics website and shows how close of a play it truly was. Amazing. Then our defense was able to hold B-W for the last two minutes and the game ended on an incomplete pass. Just another step to winning our 11th national title this year, which has gathered the slogan of “11 in 11.”

It was a great game for my relatives and cousins to come to as well; their first game attended for the season was one of the best. What also added to the day was the Game Day Challenge I previously blogged about and helped to organize. There were stations set up throughout the whole stadium to help divert all the waste from the game away from landfills. I can’t wait to see the results and how much trash we diverted! Lastly, during the game there was an announcement that the woman’s volleyball team won their first-ever OAC title over Heidelberg, who are ranked ninth nationally. This just capped off an unbelievable weekend in Mount sports, and I hope the success continues throughout the post season!

The Game Day Challenge: Attempting to Go Zero-Waste

The Game Day Challenge: Attempting to Go Zero-Waste

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One of the university groups I am involved with at Mount Union is the Sustainable Management Advisory Committee (SMAC). Part of my role within this group is to help assist in the decision making process of socially and environmentally sound opportunities to create a sustainable atmosphere for students. I have helped promote awareness for sustainability on campus by doing some marketing in the library and writing green facts in The Dynamo (our school’s weekly newspaper). One project this year is the Game Day Challenge, which will be held at our last home football game of the year against Baldwin-Wallace.

The Game Day Challenge is a groundbreaking event for sustainability on the campus of Mount Union. Mount Union Stadium will host the first ever near-zero waste event. Universities nation wide sign up for this event to measure and report recycling, composting, reuse, donation and trash disposal in pounds at sporting events. The EPA will recognize all Game Day Challenge participants in December of 2011 and present awards in the following five categories: waste generation, diversion rate, greenhouse gas reduction, recycling and organics reduction. Several of these categories are measured by taking the pounds of waste and dividing it by the total attendance, leaving a rate of per capita waste generation. The colleges and universities with the highest rates will be presented with awards. Basically, much of the trash generated at the game will no longer just go to a landfill.

At the game, there will be several stations set up where fans will be engaged an educated on where to properly dispose of concessions and refreshments. Recycling will still be taken to the schools municipality, the organics will be composted at our school’s Nature Center and the waste that cannot be handled will have to go to a landfill. One part that I am really excited about is how we will recycle our chip bags and candy bar wrappers. We will be putting different collection bins out for these and sending them to TerraCycle, where I interned this past summer, and they will be turned into eco-products. This is just another big step Mount Union is taking to become a more environmentally sound campus. Come out and cheer on a Purple Raider win, but also do your part to help a win for the environment!

Finally an Excuse to Slack Off

Finally an Excuse to Slack Off

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Every week this semester seems never ending for me. Taking 18 credits, going to practice and helping plan our next Raider Relief project leaves only a little wiggle room to have some fun. One way I try to take advantage of my free time is to just slack off. I am very focused at school, but the slacking off I’m referring to involves some nylon webbing and two trees. Slacklining is a balance sport, which utilizes nylon webbing stretched tight between two anchor points, and is an activity that has rapidly grown in popularity. Maybe you have seen some people by the campus lakes having a slack off, just trying to balance their school work with their social life.

Slacklining began when climbers who were hanging out in campgrounds became bored and started playing with their equipment. Since slacklining’s development in the late 1970s, slacklining has grown into an international craze, and is a common and popular pastime within the outdoor community. Slacklining has become so popular because anyone can do it. Some people do it for fun, while others do it for the obvious athletic benefits, and some still do it for a meditative purpose (seeking a higher state of mind). It’s just a great way to get a little exercise and hangout with friends. There is lowlining (basic slacklining low to the ground), tricklining (people do flips and spins) and highlining (extremists put lines over canyons and rivers). For now, I am going to stick to lowlining.

I encourage people to try slacklining because with it combines an emphasis on focus, balance and strength. For the adventurous, it’s an effective cross-training activity for yoga enthusiasts, surfers, climbers and snowboarders. Also, it’s just as much an exceptional form of exercise as it is a spiritual quest, where your mind and body exist in complete balance with nature. Slacklining presents individuals with the opportunity to truly live in the moment with an emphasis on focus, fulfillment and fun. What are some other ways you like to slack off?

¡Voy a España! 5 Study Abroad Tips

¡Voy a España! 5 Study Abroad Tips

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It was truly a weird, different and complex feeling I had when I booked my flight to Spain the other day, but nonetheless very exciting. During the spring semester of 2012, I will be traveling to Alicante, Spain to study at the University of Alicante. Alicante is a Mediterranean port city in the southeastern part of Spain, which has a sunny climate, beautiful beaches, tall mountains and rich culture and nightlife. I plan on swimming, surfing, sailing and enjoying the four-mile-long beach of San Juan, which is considered one of the finest in all of Spain.

Taking this opportunity to study overseas will definitely help me broaden my horizons. I anticipate meeting many new people and creating relationships that will last for a long time. I also want to explore a language and culture that I have been studying since middle school. You can only learn so much by practicing speaking and reading about cultural activities. Being able to put all these things into an actual experience will be second to none. Going abroad also will challenge me to travel on a budget and be able to effectively live on my own. I hope to become even more independent as my spring semester progresses in Spain.

Deciding to apply to this program directly reflects and relates to my academic program at Mount Union. I am pursuing majors in business management and Spanish and a minor in environmental science. Almost all of the classes I will be taking in Alicante will transfer to Mount Union and be credited towards my Spanish major. I also hope to take some cultural emersion courses that may be able to cover some of my general education requirements.

The application process was quite a long one, and I am still working on getting all my materials in. Since this can get very stressful I provided 5 essential tips for helping you study abroad.

1. Choose a program that offers what you want. Mount Union partners with USAC, which has many great things to offer, however there are other programs as well. Things to keep in mind are homestays, excursions, field studies, job opportunities, costs and if credits can transfer!

2. Read through everything! It is important to read over all the documents that are sent to you from cover to cover. You don’t want to miss important information and any materials that should have been submitted. Also, make sure your passport is up to date. Mine was not and this really complicated the process!

3. Create lists and be organized. It is very easy to get lost in all the documents you need to turn in. Create a checklist, and make sure you are up to speed with forms and deadlines.

4. Patience is a virtue. Once you apply for the study abroad program, you have to see if you get in. Once you apply for visas and a passport if you don’t already have one, you have to wait. Be aware that all the paperwork for studying abroad takes time, but should all work out in the end.

5. Be open to change. I cannot wait to experience something new, but in an entirely different culture. Take risks, do the unordinary, discover new things.

Here is some other food for thought I would like to share. I don’t worry so much about the destination, I prefer to enjoy the journey and see what we discover together along the way. Also, I figure you can either lead a path of mediocrity and let life decide your path or you can open yourself up to the world and see what happens. I feel that those who take the risk get more out of life. Man, I can’t wait to start exploring Spain, but also to explore the inner country of my own soul.

Can the Purple Raiders Become the Green Raiders?

Can the Purple Raiders Become the Green Raiders?

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The topic of sustainability has been an ever-growing trend within the last decade. It not only is what legislation is pushing for, what trends are setting and what businesses are implementing into their core principles, but also what universities have taken under their wing. It seems like there is a nationwide competition of who can be the “greenest empire,” install the most solar arrays or drive the most electric fleets. It definitely has been perceived to be a trend and some people aren’t behind it. But you can’t go wrong by saying that it is very progressive and a way to live a more simplified and efficient lifestyle.

First, sustainability can be defined as meeting current human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met for generations to come. There are many ways campuses can address these initiatives, much of which is behind the scenes. Mount Union’s physical plant has made an effort to install low flow toilets and shower heads to preserve water and CFL light bulbs to save energy (among other building specifications). Other projects on campus include the 54-kilowatt solar array system on The MAAC, the LEED-certified Gartner Welcome Center that runs on geothermal, solar panels on the cafeteria, reporting our sustainable initiatives through the STARS program, signing the President’s Climate Commitment and being listed in the Princeton’s Review of Green Colleges. Much of these projects are operational and can be seen, but don’t really drill the impactful message into our student body. By reducing our school’s carbon footprint, there definitely needs to be a more robust educational infrastructure for students to understand these concepts.

One way to really put sustainability and education in the face of Mount students is to find what they are passionate about and take advantage of it. For example, we are known for having some impressive sports teams and much of our student body are athletes or is either interested in a physical wellbeing. So does this show that our campus is competitive? Maybe we all are concerned for a healthy lifestyle? These are great qualities and present some interesting ideas I found at the AASHE Conference. Some other school’s have implemented projects like student gardens, water bottle refilling stations, green revolution bikes and bike share programs.

When I heard about the green revolution bikes, I thought what not a better way to put sustainability in the face of our students? The students who are competitive and workout a lot, maybe who spend a lot of time in the MAAC, could be able to use these bikes which offers some educational material right in front of our most common student at Mount. The green revolution bikes are exercise bikes that basically let you generate or “pedal your power,” which is shown by monitors. Eventually, we could have a whole facility that is functional by our own power, providing environmental awareness to the majority of our student body, on a topic that is fundamental in many parts of our world today.

I also recently read an article about how prep schools are leading the way on sustainable living. A Connecticut school will open the Kohler Environmental Center, “a living-learning facility where teams of students will compete with one another to see who can live most energy efficiently.” You can think of it as The Sims meets Survivorman or Men/Women vs. Wild. This is definitely applicable to our average student as well, but I am not sure if there are enough students who are behind sustainability. I hope this changes!

These are just some ideas that I gathered while attending the AASHE Conference, but I feel that Mount Union has made a ton of progress in relation to sustainable efforts. I hope we only continue to promote projects and education. Sometimes this requires a large budget, but I think our student body needs to be more behind this issue.

What do you think could drive students to be more involved? How do you feel is the best way to get students behind this green movement? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Who knows, maybe one day Mount will be completely off the grid and waste and totally functional from State Street and Union Street within. Only time will tell.