As Homecoming activities move into full swing, many around campus are getting in the Spartan spirit. But perhaps none show it quite as blatantly—and regularly—as Case Western Reserve’s very own Spartan: Eric Vondrak.
Often seen around campus sporting his Spartan uniform—complete with armor, helmet and feather plume—Vondrak is charged with drumming up Case Western Reserve pride at university events. He’s the “face” of the Spartan, while three other students rotate in as Spartie, the plush costumed character introduced last year. Together, they comprise the Spartan mascot team and serve as ambassadors at receptions, formal events or student activities.
When he learned of the opportunity to be the Spartan, Vondrak, a junior nutritional biochemistry and metabolism major, jumped on it. “I love being a student at CWRU,” he said, “and I love having a venue to channel how I feel.”
He shared his impassioned message with students in the first-year class by serving as an orientation leader over the summer. And when he’s not busy spreading the good word about Case Western Reserve, he’s devoting his time and energy to Greek Life on campus as a brother in Sigma Phi Epsilon and as vice president of service for the Interfraternity Council.
Learn more about the Willoughby native in this week’s five questions.
1. What are you reading—and how are you reading it (print vs. digital)? I am currently reading What Makes You Tic? by Marc Elliot, in good old-fashioned paperback. He talked on campus last year about tolerance and acceptance and his message really struck me. I just found out he wrote a book, so I picked it up.
2. What can’t you live without?
This is probably a bit cliché, but I honestly can’t live without listening to music. I’m always listening to something, no matter the genre, and I am constantly looking up new artists and whatnot. That, and fruit snacks. I love fruit snacks.
3. What’s your favorite spot on campus?
This is a tough one, but I would have to say Nord atrium. If I’m ever having a bad day on the quad I always walk in there and I feel there’s always someone there I know who I can talk to that will cheer me up—or vice versa sometimes.
4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Going back to the book I am reading, Marc’s message is simply to “Live and Let Live.” It’s a very simple piece of advice, but I have really taken it to heart. You really don’t know what anyone’s story is before you meet them, so the very least you can do is accept them even though you might not fully understand them.
5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?
Definitely the diverse group of people that goes here. I feel like I am always learning new things about the students who go here and their perspectives on just about anything—from little things like daylight saving time to some of the heavier topics like politics and religion. I never dreamed I could have met so many different people here, and I love it.