Four hours into day four of my leg of SNHU’s #SeeYourselfSucceed cross-country journey and I already feel like I have been with this dedicated group of people for much longer than that. Actually, the last couple of months have had a one-long-day feel to it—mostly because it’s been such an intensive dive into this initiative encompassing so many different components. When I say one long day, I mean that entirely in a positive way.
There’s been a consistent flow to almost every bit of work that I’ve done over the past two months that easily transitions into my time away from work, too. Actually, there’s very little time away from work. I find myself drawn to the social media elements 24/7, wanting to follow up with every comment, every ‘like,’ every share and every question regardless of the time of day/night. It’s fascinating stuff and everyone is working extremely hard at this. As much effort as I’m putting in, there’s many others doing double that and more. This isn’t work—it’s passion for everyone.
Five of us journeyed down to Tampa at the same time on the same flight on Friday—two advisors and two other staff members. Everyone was excited to get involved and prepare for a big event down in Clearwater Beach for our students, alums, their families and our faculty. We hustled around a bit after our arrival, checking in at our hotel, picking up others at the airport, getting helium for balloon prep, and more. It was muggy as all get out, and I swear that I didn’t feel hydrated again until later in the afternoon the following day. It took about eight glasses of ice tea to achieve this.
You never know what’s going to happen when you plan an event. I’ve been at the helm at countless events both professionally and in my personal life and that deep sick feeling in your stomach just before it starts is a a mix of excited anticipation and ‘what if no one shows up?’ But they did, and it was pretty amazing to meet so many students. I had an opportunity sit down with quite a few, and their families, to find out why they chose SNHU, what they hope to do with their education and just learn about their backgrounds and what their own journey has been. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people over the years, and it’s always a privilege when someone is willing to share their story with me—and everyone has a story, even they don’t think it’s all that compelling. I guarantee I’ll find something special in what’s been said.
The weather was gorgeous and a slight breeze kept the humidity at bay on Saturday. I had a very light cover-up on over a SNHU tank top, and fortunately did not roast. It was a welcome surprise. Having never been to the Tampa/Clearwater/St. Petersburg area prior, I quickly fell in love with the white sandy beaches and warm water. Everyone has been super-nice wherever we’ve gone and it’s been a fabulous experience so far.
We had some downtime yesterday, which the majority of the crew was very much in need of. They have been on the road for two weeks, and as much as they love what they are doing, it takes its toll—long hours of travel, not a lot of sleep, irregular schedules, differences in eating habits, humidity and high temperatures; they wouldn’t trade what they’re doing for the world, but sometimes you just need a bit of rest and the chance to recharge energy levels.
Given that I’m a newbie to the journey, I wasn’t in that same position, but I needed some time to catch up homework, work on a paper draft and touch base with home. My family always has a lot going on and just a few days away guarantees a ton to follow up on or find out about for the first time. My daughter remarked that every time one of us goes away, especially me, that it’s like she just knows they are far away and misses them more. I agree. Every time one of my kids went away on a field trip with school or a business trip now, I may not even be going to see them for several days if they were at home, but I start missing them immediately. I think her ‘mom’ instincts are already kicking in.
I’ll admit that it was hard to focus on homework knowing it was beautiful beach day and I haven’t been in the ocean once this summer yet. I found myself looking out the window enough that I finally moved to the bed (and closed to the curtains). I’m distracted enough these days, and have a hard time working without a monitor when I’m doing a paper. I like to be able to write and look at a different screen for my resource material. I did eventually get to the beach for a short while—long enough to acquire a fast sunburn on my lower legs—and successfully managed to not get stung by a stingray. When I saw the caution sign, I was sure I would somehow encounter a stingray. Apparently my shuffling skills were better than I thought.
So today, we’re on the bus, on our way to Pensacola, which is going to be a haul for most of the day. For me, it’s a chance to catch up on email that I may have missed, spend some focused time on this initiative without interruption (something that could never happen in the office) and really accomplish a lot. I love road trips, although this is the first time I’ve ever done one in a bus quite like this. While it sounds ultra-glam to be in this sleek tour bus, I imagine it wears on you after a bit.. There’s still a bus-like feel (which makes sense), but it is definitely far more comfortable than any bus I’ve been on previously. I like looking out the front window, reading road signs for places I’ve never been and taking in local roadside scenery.
I have no problem living out of a suitcase, going from one location to the next—there’s an innate gypsy within that thrives in this type of environment. The past few days have been very cool, but I’m looking forward to what’s to come. Stay tuned.