In December 2007, Ben Gajewski graduated from Geneseo a semester early with a degree in sociology and a minor in environmental studies, though his graduation only closed the first chapter of his Geneseo odyssey.
Gajewski immediately jumped into a full-time job at the Genesee Valley Conservancy, located at the corner of North Street and Main Street. North Street has been Gajewski's home since his later years in college; he continues to reside there in a recently purchased house, part of which he leases to students to help pay the bills.
Gajewski was equally active during his time as an undergraduate - the bearded nature-lover is a former photo editor for The Lamron and joined the Geneseo Pep Band in its formative year, eventually cheering his way up to vice president (and trumpet-player). His legacy as photo editor can still be seen in the pages of The Lamron today: The Photo Page began under his tenure, although he admits it wasn't his idea.
"I cannot take credit for The Photo Page - it was my father's idea," Gajewski said. "The daily paper that he got as a child growing up in Buffalo had a photo page; just sort of random photos from around the community, something that didn't get covered in a story, and he would always look at that page." He continued, "So he mentioned it to me one time, and I thought it would be a great idea because I would go out on the weekends and take photographs of a sunset, or of interesting buildings or things on campus, and they would never fit in the paper because there was never a story about sunsets in the paper."
Photography is still a passion for Gajewski - he works part-time doing odd jobs as a freelance photographer, even taking photos for a handful of weddings.
Gajewski said it took him a day or so to prepare for his first wedding gig, practicing and making sure he had a spare camera in case anything went awry. "The first [wedding] I was really nervous, actually, because that's sort of a big deal; you miss a photo and you can't really set it up for the next day again," he said.
Gajewski even has a Web site set up for his freelance work, complete with a portfolio of his past work: Northstreetstudios.exposuremanager.com.
The outdoors are Gajewski's true passion, however. He can be seen hiking in Letchworth State Park, biking around Livingston County or, more recently, running in the 2009 Niagara Falls International Marathon, in which he placed 79th.
"It was appealing to me for a couple reasons: One, it was close by, which was convenient," Gajewski said. "But I also liked the idea that you start in Buffalo, then run across the Peace Bridge and then finish in Canada. So the idea of running across the border intrigued me, it's something you can't normally do."
Gajewski said he trained for 12 weeks in preparation for the marathon, and hopes to compete in a triathlon sometime this year.
In the meantime, students and locals alike can look for Gajewski running, biking, swimming or hiking around Livingston County. They should start looking early, however - the ever-active Geneseoan says he usually wakes up at 5 a.m. each day to squeeze the most out of life.