Stories from the Road
For the first time in several weeks, I am writing this blog post not on an airplane or in a hotel, but from the comfort of my own desk in Nashville. That’s right, 93 high schools and 13 college fairs later, another travel season is in the books, and I am ready to start reading the magnificent applications that are already coming in from highly accomplished students all over the country.
But first, we want to take a moment to breathe and reflect on our travel adventures before settling back into our daily routines. Below you will find a collection of several of our admissions counselors’ favorite stories from Travel Season 2013. We hope you will take a breather of your own to enjoy a sampling of these moments that make our jobs truly a pleasure, and certainly never boring!
John Nesbitt: Hands down the highlight for me was getting invited into the homes of Tour Guide Pranjal Gupta’s family in Bangalore; and when I say family I mean everyone – aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. It was fascinating to learn so much more about the Indian home, its food, customs, and family life. This was an unforgettable night with strangers who quickly became family.
Lindsey Holden: While driving through Northern Indiana, I accidentally drove into Michigan after taking a wrong turn. I also forced myself to run along Lake Michigan in Milwaukee even though it was so windy I could barely run, just to say I had done it.
Julianna Staples: This year was my first recruitment trip to West Virginia. I know one person from West Virginia, a former Vanderbilt student and tour guide, and I got to meet up with him while there, which is definitely my most fond travel season memory this year. We spend a lot of time on our own in new places, and it was very nice to have a Vanderbilt connection in West Virginia. My host also told me to look at the Pittsburgh Airport for a tribute to the two most revered historical figures in Pennsylvania (see photo). Who do you think should win?
Sarah Quin: My last visit was the best – I was at a high school in Pennsylvania talking with students in the auditorium. A photography class shut the lights off completely in the auditorium and the whole place went pitch black. Good times!
Jessica Forinash: I would say that that my favorite moments from travel season include declaring to a room filled with over 50 boys at a school in Michigan that the SEC is the best athletic conference in the country… and using statistics as proof to shut down their protests. I also found my boyfriend Jesse Pinkman’s house in Albuquerque when I was visiting schools there. Man, I miss Breaking Bad.
Jan Deike: I was at a fair in Port of Spain, Trinidad, when three students I had spoken to earlier came back to my table. They wanted to make sure that I had the chance to try some of the local food…Bake and Shark, Doubles, Corn Soup, Roti, and KFC Trini-style. All were delicious!
Mary Beth Tift: I think my funniest moment of travel season was the flat tire experience from my Road Show week with Niki Molina as we traveled from Nashville to Memphis in August. First trip of the season and we had only been on the road for about an hour, driving through pouring rain, when we ran over something that flew off an 18-wheeler in front of us. We started travel season by spending a few hours on the side of I-40, waiting for AAA, hoping the rain would slow down. Not the best way to start the trip or season, but it was the beginning of a very nice and fun week of travel with a great co-worker. It also reminded me of how grateful I am for AAA!
Julie Chapman: My most memorable moment this fall was while I was in New Zealand during the traditional welcome ceremony. As part of a Powhiri Maori welcome tradition, we touched noses with everyone who was part of the welcoming ceremony. Definitely memorable!
Mary Stevens: At the end of a 6-hour fair in eastern Tennessee, as I was loading my materials into the trunk of my car and reflecting on just how easy it would be for my rental car keys to fall in and then how exactly would I be able to get them out… I slammed the trunk shut and thought, “shoot!”
Jason McGrath: My favorite moment was meeting an administrator at one of my schools in Miami who actually lives in my neighborhood south of Nashville. It’s complicated but true. Our world is so much smaller than we think!
John Gaines: The best travel season moments occur when you meet a student on the road at their high school, then they show up in our office on a visit a couple of weeks later. Makes me think I really did have an impact!