Dedication At Its Finest: Zack Crawford

Zack Crawford is sitting on his couch, knees up to his chest, while cradling his stuffed koala bear. He pauses, a serious look on his face.

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . .”

With this response, I already know this is going to be a good conversation. Anyone who knows Zack also knows this is personality; hilarious, bubbly, yet serious and calm when he needs to be. I met Zack almost two years ago during move in day at Oswego. The guy I met that day however, seems to be a completely different person than the one sitting next to me. Of course I thought he was nice and polite in our first official meeting and he still is, though only one word really comes to mind about Zack now: dedicated.

Zack is a junior at SUNY Oswego, who holds two part time jobs, is a Resident Assistant in Cayuga Hall, and is working towards two majors and a minor. When I ask him to rattle off all he’s involved in, I’m shocked. Being a student alone is stressful, but adding jobs, multiple majors and serving a Residence Hall of 400 plus people? It’s definitely a load that’s not for everyone, but it is for Zack. After asking him what inspired him to become an RA, his reply is instantaneous.

“It just fits my personality," he says. "I’m just the kind of person who is good for this.”

He begins talking about his life in high school, as some “background reason.” Raised in Homer, N.Y., Zack says his life before Oswego was pretty normal. In high school, he felt that he never fit into any groups and didn’t consider himself a “smart kid,” because of his dyslexia.

He pauses, looking down at the koala bear he still holds in his lap. “I tried hard in school, but I was definitely just a B student.”

He breaks down his high school career for me. He was student body President for two years, served on Student Council and also played many sports, including wrestling and soccer. Most importantly, though, Zack is a lover of the arts, something I was unaware of until recently. He takes pictures, paints, draws, sculpts, welds, makes jewelry, and even creates woodworks. He was also involved in theatre, particularly in tech, and designed many of the sets for the productions in his high school. He basically did anything artistic and did it well. Much of his love of the arts, like photography, inspired him to pursue cinematography as a major, something he said he had been set on almost his whole life. But as we all know, plans change.“Everyone said to me, ‘You’re going to be broke, you’re going to be unhappy, and you’re not going to have any fun’. But then I said, ‘Screw it!’ and went to a summer program at Ithaca College to pursue it and took Introduction to Media. . .The whole thing was more based on broadcasting and I thought, ‘Wow, I really like this!' So I applied to a bunch of schools and it came down to Ithaca and Oswego. . .And I ended up choosing Oswego.”

Zack is now a double major in Broadcasting and Business Adminstration, and is working towards a minor. When we finish this part of our conversation, I feel exhausted for him. He has been involved in so much, non-stop for a long time. How does he not get tired? How does he do it all, on top of being an RA, one of the most dedicated jobs on a college campus?

“I definitely view this as a job,” Zack says. “I take it seriously. It’s really is a job.”

Almost everyone knows that being an RA is a lot of work. According to Zack, he puts in at least twenty hours a week or more in a whole month. For the rest of our conversation, I focused in on this part of Zack’s life, as it seems like a large part of who he is. I found through talking with him that while RAs may seem “above” students, or like the cool kids in school you wouldn’t dream to talk to, this is a very common misconception. Most people forget that RAs are students, too. They go to class, join clubs, get stressed out about exams, and have the same personal problems as the rest of us. And Zack is one of these people.

When I return to the question on his reasons for becoming an RA, I try to get him to elaborate a little more.

“I feel that the reason is different for everyone,” I say. “So what’s yours?”

Zack doesn’t hesitate when he answers and stares at me intently. “I always just knew I would be an RA. It was just one of those things I was always set on. It really fits my personality. Being President at my school and planning events in school like prom, it was easy for me and kind of a background experience. I’m good at it.”

His answer took me by surprise; I thought he would say to decrease his bill or that it would look good on a resume. Practical, but typical answers. And from his response, I felt like I know Zack even better now. Sure, he is the funny, bubbly, witty friend I’ve come to know in the past three months, but he’s more than that. Besides being dedicated to all his commitments, he’s just an average guy who knows what he’s good at and how his skills could help others.

College isn’t easy - it has so many ups and downs, dramatic changes, and a lot of stress. But if anyone can say they’re surviving it, it’s Zack Crawford.