During the 2011 Boys Nation program, held at Marymount University in Arlington, Va., a few former delegates stopped by the university to meet the new delegates and visit with familiar faces — the staff. One visitor in particular was Mike Bzozowski, a 2005 New Jersey Boys State and Boys Nation delegate, who currently lives in Silver Spring, Md., and is pursuing his graduate degree in law at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
"It's a bit nostalgic to come back to visit and see the looks on the delegates faces and how excited they are," Bzozowski said. "I remember the first couple of days that I was here and just the shock and awe that there were 97 other kids that were as excited about this as you are."
After Bzozowski reminisced with program staff, he spoke with the Legion about his memories with Boys Nation.
Q: What was the first day of Boys Nation like for you?
A: It was exciting to meet a lot of kids that were just as excited about the country as I was. Because in high school it's hard to find kids that enjoy talking about politics, government and our country. So to meet 97 other guys that were just as excited about the direction the country was heading was great.
Q: Was Boys Nation the reason you attended college in D.C.?
A: The week that I spent at Boys Nation was my first experience of being away from home. And once I got a taste of the city and exposed to what it has to offer, I instantly felt this is where I was supposed to look at colleges and I didn't look anywhere else. I attended Catholic University for my undergrad and now for graduate school. As of right now I don't know the type of law I will pursue, but I have been thinking about the JAG Corps. No one in my family served in the military, but thanks to Boys Nation, I was able to spend an entire week for four summers in a row with great role models who served our country. It was inspiring to see their dedication to service and hear about their military experiences. So ever since I saw how passionate the senior counselors were about service, I continually ask myself ‘How can I serve? How can I combine my law expertise with military service?'
Q: How does it feel being back in a familiar environment?
A: It is great seeing staff members such as Bob Turner, Thane Chastain and Mike Bredeck. And some of the guys that are now junior counselors were delegates when I was a junior counselor from 2006-2008. For me that's really neat to see because it shows how things come full circle—I helped counsel these guys as delegates and now they're junior counselors guiding delegates.
Q: What is one thing you took away as a Boys Nation delegate?
A: The relationships were the best thing that I took away from it, with the junior and senior counselors, and I still keep in touch with guys that I was delegates with.
Q: Do you have any words of encouragement or advice to young men looking to attend Boys State?
A: I have been blessed with the best friendships in my life and the best role models all because I decided to go to Boys State. And I would not be the same person I am without attending Boys State and Boys Nation. You just never know what program it will be that will give you the best friends or what program an employer will ask you about. For me, that program has been both Boys State and Boys Nation.
You never know what kind of experience it can have on you because everyone goes into it and takes away something meaningful. It's an opportunity to see other people your age that are excited about our country and serving. It gives you a sense of pride and attending Boys State and Boys Nation has been a huge blessing in my life.