George Mason student Chris Mayernik, commonly known as the Golden Ninja on the Fairfax campus, has made a name for himself with his inspiring speech and gold-colored clothing.Photo by George Yanez

Many people on campus have met or at least know of Chris Mayernik. Some have seen him biking around; others just instantly spot him in a crowd. Tumblr even has a page dedicated to Mayernik sightings. Unlike most people on campus though, Mayernik has another name, a name more and more people are learning daily — Golden Ninja.

Whether it’s handing out golden coins to various charities in the Johnson Center or sporting a distinctive golden jacket and backpack, it’s difficult to miss him in a crowd.

“When I think about Golden Ninja,” Mayernik said, “the key words that come to my mind are a leader, not a follower, and young and fearless. It’s the kind of person trying to do great things that maybe other people are afraid to do.”

No stranger to adversity, Mayernik was raised as a home-schooled military brat before entering the world on his own at 18 after being kicked out by his parents.
“My family moved around a bit … because both my mom and dad were in the Navy,” Mayernik said. “I went from Seattle to Georgia, and then I lived on a sailboat when I was really young … I’d never gone to public school till [Northern Virginia Community College] and until now. But through these challenges I came up with the mindset of ‘never give up.’”

Anyone who has seen him walking around campus has probably seen his stereo backpack with those very words — “never give up” ­— displayed in gold on the back of it. It’s a motto Golden Ninja hopes to use to inspire everyone, not just here at George Mason University, but the whole world.

“I want people to believe in their dreams,” Mayernik said. “Yes, you’re going to fail, but the Japanese have a proverb … that means failure is the origin of success and they have another one … which means fall down seven times, get up eight.”

His nickname hasn’t always been there either.

“I wasn’t even sure I was going to be called the Golden Ninja,” Mayernik said. “But some of the names I came up with were really dumb. I had Golden Man, Golden Warrior, Golden Boy, and I thought those were terrible. Also, a lot of those were taken for the dot-com and that’s important for the future. Because what if you say, ‘Check out Golden Ninja. His website is’ It’s confusing.”

Creativity has always been the driving force behind everything Mayernik has done, even when he was just a kid.

“I started drawing and I wasn’t good,” Mayernik said. “I couldn’t even draw a stick figure. But those stick-figure fighting animations online, those inspired me. So, literally, I started drawing stick figures.”

So what’s in the future for Golden Ninja?

“The next thing is the more difficult thing,” Mayernik said, “because I got your attention. But now the next step is to hold [the] attention and grow your audience to a much larger audience. Because the more people I work with, the more people I inspire, then the more I can do. So it will kind of be me trying to build some kind of interactive online show where I go around with a video camera documenting the things I’m doing and finding other people doing inspirational things and getting them out there. And also to try and have fun.”