Freshman marches his education forward to the beat of his own drum

Nathaniel Socks
Nathaniel Socks. Photo by George Mason University / Evan Cantwell.

As a child, Nathaniel Socks said he was restless, and could often be found tapping his hands on nearby objects. His mom enrolled him in drum lessons in second grade, he said, which led to his favorite hobby—one that taught him valuable life lessons.

“I got to see how if you put in hard work and dedicate yourself to something really hard, how cool the product can be,” the incoming George Mason University freshman said. “That was one thing that really got me into drumming—you can see the progression of practicing.”

Socks said that lesson became more evident to him when he joined a community band and the marching band at Williamsport High School in Maryland, where in 2019 he helped his school win second place in the state’s annual marching band competition. He said he also excelled in his abilities playing for the competitive Old Line Independent Percussion ensemble, where he earned a spot as a bass drummer.  

Besides pursuing percussion, Socks was a legislative page for Maryland state senator Paul Corderman in 2020.

“The greatest takeaway from talking to the state senators and representatives, to the people who make the bills, to past legislative pages, is that everyone is a normal person,” said Socks, an Honors College student. “You don’t have to be a superhuman to make a change; you just have to want to make a change and drive forward.”

The conflict analysis and resolution major said he’s looking forward to using the lessons of he’s learned from drumming and being a page in his academic classes.

While Socks hasn’t figured out his exact career aspirations, he said conflict analysis and resolution felt like a good fit for him, as it combines his interests of history, sociology, and foreign languages, and could provide opportunities to work for government, nonprofits, or the corporate world. He said he’s also excited to join Mason’s top-rated pep band, the Green Machine.

“I’ve heard really good things about Mason’s professors and the classes,” he said. “I’ll also be going to a school where there’s a lot of different people, so that’s really cool to be able to talk to people, not just on campus, but in class discussions and get the different perspectives.”

Conducting research with impact should also be a highlight of his undergraduate experience, he said.

“The Honors College looks very accessible in terms of the freedom to research what you would like to improve upon [in the world],” he said. “Mason and the Honors College give you the tools and opportunity to better your education in ways you maybe otherwise wouldn’t have.”