Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Mark S. Zaid
Education: UR’89, BA HIS/PSC; Albany Law School, JD’92
Current city/state of residence: Rockville, Maryland
Job Title: Managing Partner
Employer: Law Firm of Mark S. Zaid, P.C.
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
In addition to double-majoring in History/Political Science, I spent a lot time engaged in UR activities. I was a member of the Winter/Spring Track (1985 – 1987) and football (1985) teams, as well as a reporter/photography editor for the Campus Times. Given my time as a volunteer fireman outside of UR, I also spent time working for the Fire Marshal’s Office handling campus inspections for fire code violations. It was a natural fit to then become an Emergency Medical Technician and work for MERT (“Medical Emergency Response Team”) too. At the time I remember setting a record for most hours spent on duty in a month, which I recall was then about 420 hours. I also spent a semester working in the Government Documents Section of the Library, which forecast my current position on the Library Alumni Council. But perhaps most significant was helping establish as a Charter Brother in 1986 the NY Xi Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon, for which I served as its first Rush Chairman. The Chapter today (for which I serve on the Alumni Council), more than 25 years later, is stronger than ever, which is something I am very proud to see.
Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?
Jesse Moore, Professor Emeritus of the History Department, was my freshman professor and I established an instant rapport/bond with him. I also participated in Jesse’s seminar on South Africa after I returned from studying abroad in London in 1988 as part of the UR’s British Parliament Externship program where I worked on South African matters for a member of the House of Commons. Jesse then served as my History Honor’s Advisor. We have stayed in touch all these years and get together just about every time I visit the UR (particularly for lunch at Nick Tahou’s!), which is often 3x annually.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
I immediately attended Albany Law School of Union University the August after UR graduation. Quite honestly I had law school planned from the beginning of my undergraduate days. What changed was my major. At first I started out in Computer Science, which in 1985 was a new field and one I thought would be incredibly promising for a lawyer. Alas, I hated the classwork and did not last even one semester!!! I switched to History/Political Science and loved it. And both majors obviously worked well to prepare me for my legal career.
How do you balance your work and personal life?
This is a question that often is never fully answered for many of us!!! But the answer is you have to make sure you achieve a respectable balance. As much as my professional responsibilities keep me busy, and that can be 24/7 at times (at least it seems!), I will always take time for hobbies, sports, travel and other recreational activities. Yes, I often work until 3 am but when clients are telling me that I need to go on vacation, clearly I am working too much! And most of all I make every effort to be there for family events that once the time has passed can never be recaptured.
How are you still connected with the University?
I continue to remain closely connected with the University. Indeed, I am probably more involved today than I have been since the day I graduated nearly 25 years ago. I have served in a variety of alumni positions over the years while I lived in Albany, New York and now in the Washington, D.C. area. I am currently a member of the Library Alumni Council and Libraries Campaign Committee as well as the Washington, D.C. Regional Cabinet. I was also a Charter Member of the George Eastman Circle and was named as the first Chair of the Washington, D.C. GEC Council. In 2009, I was honored to be the first recipient of the John N. Wilder Award for Alumni Service, which relied in part on the fact that I co-wrote (with UR Library staff) “Wish You Were Here: A Century of Postcards of the University of Rochester” (2009) and established in 2005 the endowed Pan Am 103 Memorial Scholarship in memory of Katherine Hollister and Eric Coker, both members of the Class of 1990. I have also had the pleasure of speaking at two Meliora Weekends, including serving as a panelist on Miller’s Court, and delivering several speeches on national security topics over the years for the student body and general community.
What advice do you have for current students?
Take advantage of your time at UR!!! I had a wonderful experience with the University, which is why I still love to be involved more every day. But I do have regrets, and those relate to not taking full advantage of the range of cultural activities that the UR offers to its students and community. Most notably I am still annoyed at myself that I never attended any Eastman performances. I also wish I had explored the region more. But the most important piece of advice I can give is to engage in as many activities as possible and open your mind to everything that is offered. The flexibility to experience life that is generally encountered during college years is often not repeated in later years. Learn. Experience. Do. To me that is what Meliora is all about!