Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Mr. Zorach Goes To Washington: American University Graduation

While socially distanced and fairly sparse, the American University campus was fairly lively.

I just wrapped up a weekend in Washington, DC, attending the (minimal, socially distanced) graduation festivities at American University for my MBA. It was my first time traveling since the beginning of the pandemic last March, which was, well, weird. As one of the few graduate students who actually showed up on campus for in-person-not-virtual-graduation, I was the odd man out as the token Old. But beyond the importance of signifying the completion of the degree, I always appreciate an opportunity to avail myself of real infrastructure in a reasonably well-maintained built environment in a city that isn’t run by¬† completely crazy people.

The Detroit airport, for its part, felt vaguely normal. Delta managed alright, and WMATA didn’t do too bad either. In DC itself, the buses were fairly well-populated, but the subways were pretty empty. Ridership was down nearly 75% from 2019 through 2020, but seems on track to recover based on preliminary 2021 numbers. It probably doesn’t help that the whole tourism thing is more or less shut down in DC. The Capitol remains completely surrounded with massive barricades and National Guard– vaguely third world. Remember that whole thing?

American University is, meanwhile, located in the far reaches of suburban Northwest DC. We made the mistake of walking from the Tenleytown-AU red line stop, which took a bit longer than we had budgeted, but we made it in time for the 12:00 time slot I had signed up for. It was also a lovely spring day, definitely a far cry from the sweltering heat I’m used to in DC in summer– and, with the exception of a drizzly Friday afternoon and intermittent spring showers on Saturday, we had solid weather the rest of the weekend.

It’s always a pleasure to visit our nation’s capital, barricaded buildings and all. Mayhap they’ll some day soon be a bit more accessible and we can look more like a modern democracy. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to some new beginnings in the next couple of weeks using this fancy new degree. To borrow AU’s current slogan: challenge accepted.

Visiting American University’s campus in the almost-suburban, far reaches of Northwest Washington, D.C. The campus is impressively landscaped with tall trees and pervious landscaping, and is even accessible from a couple of transit routes.
MBA graduation at The American University: The traditional cap toss, but socially distanced, a.k.a. solo.

Nat M. Zorach

Nat M. Zorach, AICP, MBA, is a city planner and energy professional based in Detroit, where he writes about infrastructure, sustainability, tech, and more. A native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he attended Grinnell College in Iowa, the Kogod School of Business at American University, the POCACITO transatlantic program, the SISE program at the University of Illinois Chicago, and he is also a StartingBloc Social Innovation Fellow. He enjoys long walks through historic, disinvested Rust Belt neighborhoods at sunset. (Nat's views and opinions are his own and do not represent those of his employer).

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