The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Emily

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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My next guest on the series is the very first person I met when I arrived in Manhattan to start my freshman year at K-State (well, other than my student visit as a high school senior.) I vividly remember walking in the front door at the Smurthwaite Scholarship/Leadership House for Women with my Dad and being greeted by Emily’s friendly smile. I also remember after my Dad said hello, he added “what the hell is that sound out there?” …It was August in Kansas, so the cicadas were in full force, but we don’t have those in the Pacific Northwest and didn’t know what they were. I was completely embarrassed but Emily was pretty amused, so I guess I didn’t ruin her first impression of me 🙂

I share that partially because it helps to paint a picture of how warm, friendly and lighthearted Emily is. She really looked out for me especially during my first semester as I navigated being an out of state student, for which I will forever be so grateful for. Even though she ended up transferring schools after my freshman year (which was a really brave decision!), she certainly left an impression on me in many ways. Emily is compassionate, fun, creative and shares my love for a good story. She has a lot of lessons and experiences I think many can relate to and appreciate, so I hope you enjoy hearing her story!

-Amanda 

Name: Emily Snell
Age: 28
Hometown: Ellinwood, KS
College: Lipscomb University and Kansas State University
Degree(s): Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Graduate Certificate in Conflict Management
Current Location: Nashville, TN
Current Job: Team Assistant at The Upper Room

College

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
K-State: Smurthwaite Scholarship/Leadership House – regular house activities plus serving as Outreach Recruitment Chair, copy editing and writing for The Collegian, campus ministry, volunteering in my church’s nursery
Lipscomb: internship at United Methodist Communications, lots of part time jobs – student worker in the university business office, nanny, freelance writer for United Methodist Communications, managing editor & then editor-in-chief for the university’s student news website Lumination Network

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
After sophomore year, I decided to move to Nashville and transfer schools. I loved K-State, but I felt a calling from God to go to Nashville. So, despite the fact that it was very out of character for me, I went. Transferring to a new school and moving to a new city where I knew only one person was a big adjustment. I had to pay my own rent, so it was difficult at times to manage multiple part-time jobs while also going to class and doing homework. And living off campus and having so many responsibilities didn’t leave me with a lot of opportunities to meet other students or find new friends. I wasn’t involved on campus much except for my participation in journalism activities. I had great friends within the department, but otherwise, I felt a little disconnected from the rest of the student body. On a small campus, that feels strange. But I was grateful for my small circle of good friends, and I’m still connected with those people today.

Another challenge came at the very end of college. I loved my time at Lipscomb, and I’m so grateful for the way it has shaped my life. But I did have to grieve some when the reality hit me that I would never be a K-State alum. I grew up in a family that, as we like to say, “bleeds purple.” When I came back to Manhattan in May 2012 to watch some friends graduate, I felt genuine sorrow that I was not on the stage with them. As much as I loved Lipscomb, it didn’t quite feel right to know that K-State isn’t my alma mater. I’m proud of Lipscomb and the good work they do in the Nashville community, and I’m thankful for the people I met there who have helped shape me. My diploma may not come from the university I dreamed about, but it’s from a place that I love and appreciate. Sometimes the real picture of life doesn’t turn out the way we imagined, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful!

 

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Be flexible with your future job expectations and be creative about finding ways to do what you love. Your “dream job” may not appear immediately, so identify what you’re passionate about and what brings you joy and then create a way to implement that in your life, even if it’s not an income-producing opportunity right away. And as you carve out a path for your career, try to be patient with the journey. In my experience, figuring out a meaningful work life can take time, and just like a real journey, the path may not be straight forward.


Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
When I graduated, I didn’t have a job lined up, so I kept nannying and freelancing while I interviewed for positions at various companies. After a few months, Lipscomb’s Business Office (where I had worked as a student) contacted me about an opening. I thought it would be something to keep me afloat for a few months, but it turned into something I really enjoyed. I worked there as cashier for a year and then was promoted to Student Accounts Representative. I held that position for 3 years and really expanded my knowledge and skills. I grew in ways that I didn’t expect. Serving in that role pushed me to improve my math skills, my leadership abilities, and my capacity for dealing with conflict. Collecting money is not easy…

During my time at Lipscomb, I also worked as a freelance journalist. Freelancing gave me an opportunity to pursue my passions for writing and storytelling. I wrote regularly for Interpreter magazine, the publication for The United Methodist Church, and also wrote two cover stories for Sisterhood magazine. Working for Sisterhood gave me the chance to interview Mandisa and Kari Jobe, two Christian musicians that I love. It was really fun and a special privilege!

This fall I began a new job at The Upper Room. Though my time at Lipscomb was wonderful, I had begun to feel that I needed a transition if I was going to continue learning and growing. And I wanted to do what I really love and more fully embrace my gifts and my journalism/English degree. I now serve as Team Assistant for our Administration, Interpretation, and Development team. In this role, every day looks different – sometimes I’m processing invoices or coordinating logistics for meetings; other times I’m proofreading website content; other times I’m acting as a sounding board for our publisher’s latest ideas; other times I’m calling donors to thank them for supporting our work. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet with our books & marketing team to select covers for new books we’re publishing, and I’ve worked with the editions team on selecting meditations for our daily devotional guide. Regardless of the specific tasks, each day I know that I’m a part of an organization that makes a difference in the spiritual lives of people around the world. That brings me a great sense of satisfaction.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
My internship, campus publication experience, and freelance opportunities in college really served me well with finding more freelance jobs after graduation. I think my ability to maintain multiple jobs while also being a full-time student during college prepared me for balancing a full-time job and part-time job as an adult.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
Insurance – Why is health insurance so complex and confusing?? I never feel very confident that I’ve made the right choice on the best health care plan! I need a health advisor, please.

Budgeting – I’m bad at this game. Life is just too fun and too full of opportunities, and my bank account is always resisting my urge to enjoy! 😉 Let’s hope that before I’m 30, I learn how to balance my finances more strategically.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
Anticipating needs and meeting them thoroughly/efficiently

Connecting with people and building relationships

Editing – If there’s a typo, I’ll find it. If you need something proofread, I’m your girl!

Organizing

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
Make a thorough to-do list

Take a walk

Practice some deep breathing

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?

Read

Journal – Pen to paper continues to be one of the best ways for me to know myself and feel grounded in life.

Walk – It’s amazing how a little time on a nature trail can restore me.

Spend time with friends

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
Conflict Management certificate – During my time in the Business Office, I realized that I needed to gain some knowledge and skills around addressing conflict. No one in my office seemed prepared or certain of how to handle the difficult conversations we had each day. So, I decided to take advantage of Lipscomb’s Institute for Conflict Management. I took 15 hours of graduate coursework, earned a certificate in conflict management, and then put those skills to work in my daily interactions with customers. I also did my best to share that knowledge with my team so that we could all do better and feel more confident.

Leadership in Business Office – Though I was one of the youngest employees in the office, I had more experience in the office than many of my coworkers. (The stress of the job leads to a lot of turnover, so several employees came in after I started.) These coworkers looked to me for leadership and support, and I did my best to, as one of my professors would say, “lead up and lead out” with those in my office.

Mentoring college women – I love college students, and I consider it an honor to be a mentor in the lives of several young women at Lipscomb. Being with them brings me joy and teaches me about the many opportunities we have to learn from one another.

Freelance work – especially my interviews with Mandisa and Kari Jobe

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
The Contributor – On Saturday mornings, I volunteer at a local organization that provides economic opportunities for homeless and formerly homeless people in the Nashville area. These men and women teach me so much about determination, resilience, and positivity.

Ethos Church – I’m really involved in my church, serving on the set up team, participating in a house church (small group), and offering leadership & insight & support wherever I can.

Being an aunt – I have 3-year-old nephew Walter and an almost-1-year-old niece Elanor. They are precious, and being their aunt is so fun!

Compassion International – I sponsor 3 children with Compassion International. Being connected with these kids and their families reminds me of the similarities among people all over the world. Their letters make me smile. Sponsoring them helps me know that I’m doing something meaningful with my life. I’m participating in something bigger than myself and spending my money in a way that makes a lifetime impact on these kids and their families. In 2014, I was able to travel to Burkina Faso and meet Veronique, my sweet little girl there. It was an amazing experience that continues to shape me!

What path are you looking to take next? Any long-term goals?
Becoming an editor in the publishing world or working in communications/marketing/development for a non-profit… I’m 28 and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life!

Even though I’m type A and a chronic overachiever, I’m actually not much of a goal-setter. I prefer to pay attention to what’s happening in the here and now and be open to opportunities as they come my way. I trust that as I say yes to what seems right in the current season, it will lead me toward a good path for the future. Maybe that’s foolish. But I think, for me, it’s a healthy balance of being proactive while maintaining open hands and an open heart.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?

Coffee + a little time to sit quietly in my recliner reading and enjoying said coffee 🙂

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
Spotify – must have music!

Good pens

Post it notes

What does it say about me if my vices are post-it notes and good pens? I’m a nerd, but I’ve learned to embrace it!

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
Professor

University president

CEO of a startup

COO at a tech company

Boss lady at a New York fashion mag

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
I miss the freedom of pre-adulthood… plenty of independence but few real responsibilities like paying bills or choosing health insurance

Living with my best friends and always having someone to hang out with

*****

Emily took me to my very first K-State football game during my freshman year in 2009. Look how little we look!

Emily, thank you so much for participating as a guest on my series. Hoping my plan for a trip to Nashville next year works out!

Cheers!

Life at Random

Reverse Bucket List

Today the Momfessionals blog is hosting a fun topic, talking about “Reverse Bucket Lists” on her “Show and Tell Tuesday.” I think bucket lists are important to have because they make us think about what we want in life and what it might take to get there. But personally I have always clumped bucket lists together with goal setting. Sure, its important to dream and take the time to write down your list, but I think it is so easy to never get past that step if we don’t set goals and think through the actions we need to take to get us there.

Anyway, I love the idea of celebrating and highlighting a reverse bucket list because I do think it is easy to look at other people’s lives (especially on social media) and feel negative toward your own life experiences and accomplishments. I’m all about looking ahead to what’s to come, but I think its important to remind ourselves how far we’ve come too.

As I was writing this, two things stood out to me:

  1. I included some things that weren’t necessarily on my bucket list or a particular goal before they happened, but they are significant parts of my story that I am proud of.
  2. As I browsed around for pictures to use and to help spark ideas for what to include on this post, I was reminded that though everything might not be a “bucket list” caliber item, I’ve lived a pretty awesome, fun and love-filled life so far, and that thought really made my day.

 

reverse bucketlist
via

— Going to and graduating from an out of state college —

DLC Photography.

Graduated from Kansas State University in 2013 with a bachelor of science in agricultural communications and journalism, and was recognized as the Outstanding Senior in my department.

— Serving on the National AFA Student Advisory Team in college —

Not sure I would call this a bucket list item, but more of a “I don’t have high hopes, but I don’t have anything to lose by applying” that turned into one of the most important experiences of my life thus far. A year of traveling with these 8 other college students to plan a student conference and learn about agriculture and careers, has shaped me personally and professionally in a way that is beyond measure, and brought so many wonderful people into my life. And more importantly, years later it is a network that continues to push me and support me in so many ways.

— Traveling internationally —

Thailand in 2017.
The Philippines in 2017.
Guatemala in 2015.
Mexico in 2012.

For three of those I have my job to thank. On those trips I got to do some pretty cool things like boat on the Andaman Sea, ride an elephant and hike a volcano! Obviously there are a LOT more places on my list to check off…with Greece and Australia at the top!

— Building a career I love —

I started out my career in the pork industry in Kansas and now I work in the wheat and trade industry just outside of Washington, D.C. On one hand I know that I am extremely lucky for the opportunities that have come my way and the people who have supported me along the way. But on the other hand, I do feel very proud of myself for the hard work I’ve put in to get to where I am only 5 years out of college. I’ve wanted to be a communicator for farmers for as long as I can remember, and that’s exactly what I am doing.

— Moving to Washington, D.C. —


I often tell people the story about how I went from randomly finding out about this open job position on January 9, accepting it on February 9 and starting in on March 9 (all in 2015). And that all included picking up and moving from Manhattan, KS, to Arlington, VA, a place where, once again, I didn’t know anyone, and was WAY different than anywhere I lived before. Looking back, I really do often think, “who the heck does that??” People have asked me whether moving here was a dream or goal of mine, and for the most part, the answer is no. I visited D.C. four times throughout middle school, high school and college, and have always been fascinated by it, but never thought too seriously about moving there. As I finished college, I looked for jobs in Kansas and the PNW (where I grew up.) I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to make another life changing move ever again and I was happy with those two areas. So when I decided that I was ready to move on from my first job, those are the areas I looked again. Yet, less than 12 hours after stumbling across this job posting on Facebook I called my parents to tell them that I had this really strong gut feeling that this was what I needed and wanted to do next.

— Attending an inauguration —

I could (and maybe should) do a post just focused on my “living in Washington, D.C.” bucket list and reverse bucket list.  But once I moved here and knew that I would probably be here at least a few years, attending an inauguration in person was definitely at the top, regardless who ended up as the President. For me, I just just excited to be experiencing a part of U.S. history in person.

— Getting a sister tattoo —


While the other major things on my list above are accomplishments and great experiences, this is more of fun to-do that my sister and I talked about for a long time before we finally decided what we wanted to get and followed through on it. Tattoos aren’t for everyone, but this is extra special because not only it is our last name, but it is written in our mom’s handwriting.

— A few others —

– Keeping up with this blog, even if it has seen some hiatuses 🙂
– Building genuine, lifetime friendships and relationships with my family
– Finding a church community I am comfortable in
– Traveling to all 50 states… I have 35 done (plus Guam) and 15 left to go!
– Buying a DSLR camera
– Visiting NYC
– Watching Independence Day fireworks on the National Mall and at Mt. Vernon
– Taking my sister to Vegas for her 21st birthday
– Learning to crochet
– Becoming a Lifetime Member of the K-State Alumni Association
– Becoming of a AFA Lifetime Alliance Member
– Traveling to watch K-State play in a bowl game (done this twice in 2014 and 2015)
– Rushing the field and the court as a college student
– Attending a game of every major pro team sport (covered football, basketball, baseball and hockey, missing soccer!)
– Too many bucket list concerts to count…and so many to go!

Cheers!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Megan

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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If you read this blog even occasionally, then you probably already know who today’s guest is. But in case you don’t… I met my best friend Megan at the beginning of my freshman year at K-State when we both lived in Smurthwaite Scholarship House. We quickly became inseparable and the world hasn’t been quite the same since (dramatic I know, but we are the first to admit that we can be pretty obnoxious together).  We lived together for 4.5 years,  and even as we’ve “grown up” and I moved across the country again, we’ve been really fortunate that our friendship has only grown and evolved to best fit where each of us are at in life. Most of my best memories since 2009 involve this gal.

But this post is really about Megan and her story. First and foremost, what you need to know about Megan is that she has such a kind, thoughtful heart and she REALLY loves food. She has a loud, but warm and contagious personality that makes people feel welcome and like an old friend. She is naturally curious, fiercely committed to what is important to her and isn’t afraid to own who she is, mistakes and all. Because we are so close, I have had a backstage pass to every part of Megan’s life, and I am honestly so proud of who she is and what she has accomplished so far in life. I know I am a better person because of her.

-Amanda 

Name: Megan Torline
Age: 27
Hometown: Derby, KS
College: Kansas State University
Degree(s): BS in Food Science
Current Location: Wichita, KS
Current Job: Research and Development Food Scientist at BlendTech, Inc.

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a vet. I was always the animal lover of my family and asked for a dog for every birthday and Christmas. In high school, I worked at a vet clinic my junior and senior year. This gave me a bit of experience in the environment and as my mom put it, “made sure I could handle blood.”

When choosing a college, K-State appealed to me because it had a vet school. There were a lot of perks of doing my undergrad there, plus in-state tuition made a lot more sense to me. My first semester really dove into animal science courses that exposed me to the agriculture industry that I really knew nothing about. Growing up in a more urban area, a lot of the concepts that were part of growing up for most people in my animal science classes were brand new for me. (Amanda here… pretty sure it was studying for ASI 102 our first semester that really solidified our friendship!)

I took a food science course as an elective thinking, “I like food,” and it really opened my eyes to new career options that I didn’t even know existed. I swapped my major to Food Science/Pre-Vet and continued to take more food science classes. Eventually, I dropped the Pre-Vet all together and stuck with Food Science.

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I had various jobs all through college, so I feel like my involvement in college groups was significantly less than it would have been otherwise. I lived in Smurthwaite Scholarship Leadership house with Amanda for my freshman and sophomore year of college. Smurthwaite had a lot of house activities that kept us busy and we also had various events with the men’s scholarship house, Smith House. I met some of my closest college friends through time spent in the scholarship houses.

Right before my last semester of college, I interned at BlendTech Inc., a spice and seasoning blend company, in Wichita, KS. As a research and development intern, I helped develop seasoning blends for various companies within the meat industry. This internship was a great fit for me and at the end of the summer, I was offered a full time position after I graduated that next December. I was extremely lucky in that I went into my last semester of college with a job already lined up.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
I think one of the biggest struggles for me in college was saying no to the fun activities like spending time out with friends, tailgates or hanging out in Aggieville. I think there are definitely times I would have been significantly less stressed, if I had just stayed home and worked on homework or caught up on sleep. I was also (and still am) a fairly good procrastinator. When I wasn’t feeling like doing homework or studying, I was very good at finding any sort of distraction to do instead (which let’s be real, what college student isn’t?). Again, I know that if I had just buckled down and done the work, I probably could have saved myself from a few more late nights and stressful weeks.

I don’t think I would have it any other way though. I know that a large part of all that is just my personality and isn’t really something I could change anyway. But I also think that by choosing to spend an afternoon at a tailgate or staying up a little too late on a weeknight chatting and hanging out with friends, I really cemented in some of the friendships I still value today. And in the grand scheme of things, what’s a few stressful semesters compared to some lifelong friendships?

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?

Hang in there!! It’s so easy to get caught up in the “almost done” mindset and focus so much on being done that you don’t even enjoy parts of your senior year. My last semester of college was definitely stressful, but it was also included some really fun classes. I wish I had spent a little less time focusing on how stressed I was and more time focusing on the enjoyable classes I got to end my college career with and the great people I got to live and hang out with.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
I have been at the same job since I graduated college almost 4 years ago. I work as a Research and Development Food Scientist at BlendTech. BlendTech is a spice and seasoning blend supplier. We work primarily within the meat industry and supply dry rubs, marinades and injects food companies across the country. We also work some within the snack food industry, supplying seasonings to sunflower seed, chip and other snack food companies. My average week consists of a couple of meetings with current or new ingredient suppliers to stay up to date on ingredients that are currently on the market, developing and testing new seasoning blends based on customer request, current market trends or my own creativity, and creating and updating technical documentation for each of our blends for our customers. I have been extremely lucky to have a job that is always challenging me and every day is different than the one before it.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
In college, I was convinced that once I didn’t have classes, homework or studying to do, my life would be so much easier! I’d have plenty of time to do all the things and my stress levels would be practically non-existent. Adulting is hard. And I know people (jokingly or not) say this all the time, but I never really understood it until I graduated college. I also believe this is something that no matter how prepared or experienced you think you are, it will always throw you for a loop, because you just don’t know until you experience it. There have been many other challenges along the way, but the biggest challenge that I wasn’t ready for has been learning how to deal with new stresses and to sort of figure it out as I go.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
I actually don’t use a ton of new and exciting technology at work besides my email. Outside of work, the calendar on my phone is the only way I can keep track of anything. Player FM podcast app gets me through my commute. I also use a meditation app daily. My current favorite is Stop, Breath, Think.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
I am a rock star at forming habits. Whether it’s remembering to take my vitamins, sticking with my bedtime or maintaining a workout schedule, I know how my brain works and what steps to take to cement them in for good. However, I’ve always struggled with managing my time. The main cause of this is a combination of thinking things will take much less time than they actually do and trying to switch from project to project, which makes everything take longer.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
I’m a pretty big fan of to-do lists. When things get crazy or stressful, the first thing I like to do is get organized. I prioritize my things to get done, I try to minimize potential distractions (lately that means putting my phone in airplane mode so notifications don’t even show up), I pour myself a cup of coffee and pick out some jammy music. I’ve learned that a positive work environment is crucial to getting me in the zone to get stuff done.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
One of the main things I have really stuck to my guns on since graduating college is leaving work at work. I don’t bring my work home with me in the evenings and I don’t check my work email at home. Of course there are always the exceptions (waiting for an important email to come through, or on a work trip and work carries into the evening), and sometimes when there is a ton to get done or I’m behind, I’ll stay late or go into work early, I don’t mind that, sometimes it has to be done. But my line is drawn at working on work projects in my home. For me, that gives me permission to shut my work-brain off and enjoy my evenings. This gives me the space I need to do things that I love like yoga, hanging out with my friends or having dinner with my family. As long as I’m making time for these things, I feel like I’m much less likely to get burnt out at work.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
Earlier this year, I started a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training to become a certified yoga teacher. I started doing yoga more seriously in college, not necessarily because I loved yoga, but mostly because I knew I needed to be doing some form of physical activity and the thought of cardio and weightlifting sounded terrible. After college, I joined a gym and kept up with the yoga practice and eventually grew to love it for more than just the physical benefit. Starting the training at the beginning of this year has proved to be a huge, unexpected learning experience. Yoga helps me to clear my head and get grounded. It challenges me to focus on myself and my practice and not compare myself to others. The training has been a huge time commitment and a lot of hard work, but so worth it! I’ll finish my teacher training in October. The plan is to find someplace that I can teach others a couple pf evenings a week. I love the idea of introducing people to yoga and sharing the benefits and the joy that I get out of it. It also feels like a great way for me to give back and help me spend a little more time doing something I love.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
Life consists of a LOT of yoga (see above question – 200 hours is a lot). Other than yoga, I spend a lot of time with my boyfriend and his 4-year-old daughter. Hanging with a 4-year-old means I get to release my inner child and do things like play on a playground and build blanket forts to watch Disney movies in. My two dogs, Luna, a 3-year-old Corgi, and Ned, a 9-month-old German Shepherd, also do a pretty good job of adding to the chaos (and fun) of life.

I also just started my own blog as well, called Her Inspired Adventure!” My 27th birthday this month marked the start of My Year of Mindfulness. I am using this year to approach all aspects of my life in a mindful and curious way. My goal is to dig deep and really figure out what it means to live an authentic life and speak my truth. As a way to document my year, I started my blog. I’m really excited to dive into this new adventure and see what this next year has in store.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
During the summer months, I start my mornings by walking a couple miles with the dogs. This does all of us some good by getting us out of the house and getting our blood pumping to start the day. In the winter, that’s a little harder, because it’s so much darker in the morning and I’m not about to willingly spend time outside in single digits. Winter mornings usually include dog cuddles on the couch under a big warm blanket instead. Coffee is also involved somewhere in the morning process too. But starting the day with two happy pups has become an essential start to my morning.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
Coffee is always a must. I get THE WORST caffeine headaches without it. Yes, I do realize that means I have a problem.

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
All limitations aside, I would be a Pinterest tester. Which technically I think is a thing. I think people are probably out there making a living off of testing ideas and things on Pinterest. I feel like that gives me the option to do so many different things. I could test recipes, do craft projects, clean my house, workout, DIY all the things, travel, pick up new hobbies…the possibilities are endless!

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?

  • Aggieville, the food, the people, the hilarious stories…
  • The fact that everyone around you REALLY FREAKING LOVES K-State.
  • Living with my best friends and having late night life chats that cause sleep deprivation.

*****

Thank you Megan for sharing your story! I am so thankful for our friendship and excited to follow along on your own blog (Because obviously I don’t get enough of you out of our bi-weekly 4 hour long phone calls. 

Cheers!

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 25

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my not-so-glam 20-something life. See past posts HERE}

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Gearing up for Fall…

I am usually annoyed at people who proclaim September 1 as the first day of fall. But I am just SO READY for it this year! I will also never understand why being obsessed with fall seems to infect ALL WOMEN, but it does, it really does. I’m basic, and not even ashamed.

Sawyer June

Sorry for the spam of baby pictures but Sawyer June is growing so fast and I miss her so much!

The Teacher

I shared this on my Facebook a few weeks ago, but I just had to include it again. If any regular readers still don’t know why I fell in love with Manhattan, KS, just read this.

Bill and I actually have something in common, because my first visit was also on a cold December day and the kindness of the people I met is something that has always stuck with me. I left knowing that it was where I needed to be.

At the very least, if you are a sports fan, this is still worth your time to read.

Article here —> https://www.theplayerstribune.com/bill-snyder-kansas-state-the-teacher/amp/

In Case You Missed It On the Blog in August

  1. Love Letter: To Those With Hometown Roots and Wandering Souls
  2. #MeganFINALLYGoestoOregon Part 1: Hermiston
  3. #MeganFINALLYGoestoOregon Part 2: The Cabin
  4. Summer 2017: Top 10
  5. Best Day Ever – Show and Tell Tuesday

Eagle Creek Fire in Oregon

Saved this as a screenshot from Facebook… but I can’t remember the source. Sorry!

Not to downplay anything related to Hurricane Harvey and Irma, whatsoever, but fewer people are aware that Oregon is hurting quite a bit too lately (as is much of the west!) because of a fire in the Columbia River Gorge that now covers an estimated 37,500 acres and is only 13 percent contained. The fire has changed the landscape of so many beautiful natural landmarks and treasures, some to the point that they will never again look the same during my lifetime.

Its been a rough couple of weeks all around, folks.

Motivation from Filly Flair

Growing up with a grandma and mom who own their own business, I have always had a special place for women entrepreneurs. Maybe a little less than a year ago, one of my friends told me about an online clothing boutique out of South Dakota, called Filly Flair, that I should check out. I am now a super fan and customer, but lately I also started followed the company’s owner on Instagram and have really enjoyed her overall message and transparency. So I wanted to share a little video that they recently posted about her and the company. I’d recommend it if you need a little motivation today. And no, this is totally not an ad of any kind, but hey Filly Flair hit me up! 🙂

K-State Capital Area Alumni

Recently I joined the planning committee for the K-State Capital Area Alumni group and my new job is handling social media (big surprise there!) We just kicked off our football watch party season, so I’ve already been all over our Facebook page and also started up our own Instagram account. We’re at @kstatecapitalalumni if you want to check it out.

But really though, making images with K-State purple and football? That will never get old.

The Power of Rituals and 6 Other Ways to Get in The Zone

My Shine Texts are always on the money for what I need to hear, EVERY SINGLE DAY. Habits and routines that help my productivity and focus have definitely been a struggle point for me for a while. This article lays it all out in a way that makes sense to me. Now to just better implement those things…

Article —> https://advice.shinetext.com/articles/7-ways-to-guarantee-youll-have-a-productive-day/?utm_source=Shine&utm_medium=BroadcastMain

Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.

My Life in Memes

Memes that are speaking to me right now… both thought provoking and just plain funny.

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So, There’s That.

Cheers!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Nicole

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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I definitely had a different blog post planned for today, but when Nicole sent me her profile back, I knew I needed to get it posted as quickly as possible. It definitely made me laugh, and even made me tear up a little. This gal has such a GREAT story to share, and I hope after you read it you will understand why I basically want to be her when I grow up. Nicole and I often joke that we practically have the same life story, and while we do have quite a few similarities, it would not be fair to leave it at that. Nicole is talented beyond her age and experience, is a social media guru, puts 110% into everything she does and is often my go-to when I need a creative boost. What I love about Nicole is she really GETS people and the VALUE of relationships. She has a great laugh and I can always count on my conversations with her to be real and fulfilling, whether we are talking about communications strategy or our mutual infatuation and homesick longing for Tillamook Cheese. 

This is a good read folks, through and through.

-Amanda 

Name: Nicole Lane Erceg
Age: 24
Hometown: John Day, Oregon
College: Kansas State University
Degree(s): Agricultural Communications & Journalism
Current Location: Wooster, Ohio
Current Job: Producer Communications Specialist

Background Story:

I was raised in the Strawberry Mountains of Eastern Oregon where I fell in love with rural life, agriculture and the stories of the people who produce our food. Growing up 2.5 hour drive from the nearest Walmart wasn’t easy, but it did build character. My desire to share the stories of agriculture led me to Kansas State University where I earned my degree in agricultural communications and journalism with a focus in animal science. Why would a girl who loves mountains move to a state rumored to be flatter than a pancake? It turns out, I’ll go just about anywhere with the promise of a great story, adventure and learning more about ag.

When I left my tiny hometown in Oregon bound for Kansas, I was riding shotgun in a little red car next to a boy I’d convinced to come with me. When he agreed to switch colleges and come along for the ride he made me promise he could pick next. His choice? North Carolina. We’ve lived in Raleigh for the past couple of years while he finished a Masters in Swine Nutrition and coached the livestock judging team. Meanwhile I worked from home as the Social Media Director for a livestock marketing and advertising agency.

We planned to stay in Raleigh for the next few years while he finished a Ph.D. program but… I’m writing this from Wooster, Ohio. We didn’t plan to move around the nation so much, but our shared love of agriculture has taken us from one end of this country to the other — from small rural towns to an apartment in the city and back to rural life again. I am one of the few people who understands the pain of living somewhere too remote to get high speed internet and pleasure of living somewhere so urban, I can get Taco Bell delivered to my door.

Currently, I’m learning to call Ohio home while working for the Certified Angus Beef Brand and running my own communications and consulting business on the side.

College:

How did you choose your college and your major?
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve told this story…

I had my heart SET on Purdue University. I knew I wanted to do Agricultural Communications and Oregon State didn’t have the major so even though I’d been raised to be a beaver, I knew I was going out of state. I applied to several of the big ag schools like Texas A&M and Oklahoma State but really wanted to go to Purdue. I honestly can’t tell you why, I just really wanted to be a Boilermaker. Kansas State wasn’t even on my radar until we took one of those college tests in class. You know, the kind that is supposed to tell you the PERFECT school for you after answering a million questions? All my friends got pages of lists of hundreds schools for them. Want to know how many showed up on my list? One. Kansas State.

My senior year of high school, I was elected to serve as an Oregon FFA State Officer which required me to defer college plans for a year. I contacted Purdue to let them know I wasn’t coming and asked to defer my admission and if they could hold my scholarships. All I got back was a cold email saying they couldn’t help, wouldn’t defer anything and that I could reapply next year.

Then I let K-State know I couldn’t make it in the fall and asked the same thing. Could they hold my scholarships and defer my admission for a year? Not only were they happy to do so, I got a HANDWRITTEN NOTE from a past Kansas FFA Officer congratulating me and letting me know they couldn’t wait for me to come to Kansas when my year of service was through. I had never been to the state of Kansas but I knew I would be going to school there.

When I attended National FFA Convention that Fall as a state officer, I knew I had to seek out the K-State booth. Amanda and I had barely crossed paths as FFA members from Eastern Oregon and I recognized her. So I walked up to her at the booth and said “You don’t know me, but I know you and I’m from Eastern Oregon and want to go to K-State and study Ag Comm like you do.”

And that’s how I became a Wildcat and friends with Amanda. 🙂

(Amanda here: I TOTALLY remember that vividly!)

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I was involved in everything, which I don’t necessarily recommend. I’m not saying that to sound cool, I really did go overboard. I was president of my sorority (Sigma Alpha), president of the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow Chapter (loved it), was an Ag Ambassador, involved in a program called Student Foundation and helped plan the K-State Proud Campaign. I got to help teach an agricultural advocacy class, I started my freelance business, I served as editor of our college of agriculture magazine, I travelled abroad twice, I did six different internships. I packed a lot into the 3.5 years I was at K-State and loved it, but I wish I’d had the ability to make hard choices about what to invest my time in and when to say no. Saying no is sooooooooooooo hard. Sitting down with leadership of organizations to say “I quit” is not easy but it’s so worth it. It also would have prevented me from disappointing people when things conflicted or I really just couldn’t do it all. Pick 2-3 things and do those things well. But always do the study abroad trips. #worthit.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
I don’t think there’s a lot that I would change, other than narrowing down what to be involved in earlier. I would have liked to stay the full four years instead of rushing into the professional world, but I don’t regret saving a semester of out of state tuition. I think if I was to tell my Freshman self anything it would be to be NICE. These people around you aren’t competition. In four years they’ll be your coworkers. Become friends now. It’s better that way. And I know a lot of college kids aren’t this way, but I would tell myself to not take everything so seriously, to go to Aggieville more, take ALL of the human development classes (they are so cool, don’t wait until your last semester) and start making student loan payments now.

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Go to Aggieville. Hug your friends. Wear a lot of purple. Buy football tickets. Use the rec center. It’s free. That’s amazing. If your career is in agriculture take more ag econ courses. Do it. Do it now. Understand the markets and what influences them. I don’t care if you are studying herbology, want to work for an ad agency or be in beef genomics. If you want to be in ag, take MORE ag econ. Stop reading this right now and go sign up for more ag econ courses.

Post Grad:

Tell us about your career so far?
I was really fortunate to land a job right out of college that allowed me to work remote from home. This let me live in Raleigh where my husband was attending school and continue the freelance business I started in college. I absolutely loved getting to work in the digital media space helping farmers, ranchers and western lifestyle brands harness the power of social media.

When I was in college, I interned for Certified Angus Beef and to say I loved it wouldn’t be the right choice of words. I feltat home, like I had found my fit. Telling the stories of the beef community for such an incredible brand was like my puzzle piece had found it’s place. When a position came open on the team I had interned and freelanced for, I knew I had to apply. Ohio was never in the plans for us, but I am so fulfilled getting to help teach ranchers about high quality beef production both in the digital and print space. Bonus, is that I continue to freelance and consult, always keeping things interesting and it allows me to live out some other passions like my love for wheat farmers.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
I know it’s so cliche but it’s really all about who you know. The relationships I built in college through friends, my department, being involved in organizations, internships and attending conferences have been the biggest factor in setting me up for success. Honestly, I paid a pretty penny for my degree (#outofstateprobs) but the PEOPLE I met through my degree program are more valuable than any classroom experience and totally worth the college debt I’m paying off right now.

These people have become my coworkers, my freelance clients, and all around rockstars to have in my life. They are cheerleaders and problem solvers and world changers. I’m really lucky that I actually work for one of the company’s I interned with in college and I get to freelance and work with many other people I met or worked for in college.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
Losing your people is tough. In college you go from a life surrounded by friends who have become family and a support system of mentors and teachers and life coaches and then you move away. It’s hard. It gets lonely sometimes. Also, when someone figures out the whole making good friends as an adult thing, I’ll pay to take that class. Notice how both of these answers are about people? People are the best part of college and the hardest part to lose. They are also the most challenging thing about work and the only way you’re going to get through it. People matter. More than skills, more than resumes, more than experience, more than anything.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
I’m one of those people that thinks I’m a hot mess and other people think is crazy hyper-organized. I’m a big fan of Asana for task management and am now a firm believer in living that #inboxzero life. I’d be lost in this world without sticky notes, podcasts, the GPS on my phone and the app TapeACall. Also, Freshbooks. Cloud accounting software made for creatives. If you freelance and you are creating your own invoices, stop that nonsense immediately and pay for accounting software.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
Ooo deep question.

Strengths:

  • Knowing my stuff. I spend a lot of time staying up to date with what’s going on in the world of digital communications, media, the world and my craft. I’m good at what I do, knowing the cutting edge stuff and I’m always working to get better.
  • Asking tough questions.
  • Storytelling across all platforms from a 2,500 word print story to a 140 character tweet.

Weaknesses:

  • Being comfortable in my own skin. I really wish I didn’t have to say that at this age. I wish I could say I confidently slay all the time, but I don’t. Often I need affirmation from others to go forth and do the bold thing I want to do but am far too afraid to do. Sometimes that “bold” thing really is something out of the box and innovative and some days it’s talking to a coworker instead of sending an email.
  • Man I REALLY wish I didn’t have to say that one. I overestimate what I can accomplish in a day. I need deadlines and I need help with deadlines. I’m not saying I can’t meet them, but I struggle being realistic when setting them for myself.
  • Expecting perfection. From myself. From others. I’m working on this big time right now. Give grace. We all could use some.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
Oh I’m the last person you should ask about work/life balance. I LOVE what I do. It’s part of my identity and who I am. I was created to be a workaholic. I haven’t worked just one job since I was a freshman in college. However, I’ve learned the hard way that my type A, over achieving, do it all personality is at a high risk for burnout. HIGH RISK y’all. This means when I burn out, it’s not like I just fizzle out of energy, I crash and burn. There’s flames. Big ones. And I’m not the only one that gets torched in the fire. Coworkers, friends, clients, my poor husband — they all have to deal with the repercussions and that’s just not something I’m okay with anymore.

Right now this is a major focus area of my life. I seriously had to set goals and hard boundaries for myself. I have goals around when I will leave work and when I can bring my work laptop home and when I can answer work emails. My supervisor knows this and knows if I break my own rules. Does this sound overboard? Maybe. But I can tell you I am a completely different human now that I’m working from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. five days a week. I have time for things like working out and cooking dinner and I’m even thinking about starting to watch Game of Thrones. Nicole a year ago had to be dragged away from her computer at 11:50 p.m. every night. I worked weekends. I answered work email as soon as it came through. I never shut off.

Don’t be that person. It’s not healthy and it’s not getting you ahead. I’m not saying don’t go the extra mile. Just be the person that does more in their 8 hour workday instead of the person that works 17 hours a day.

Hannah O’Leary Photography

Just For Fun:

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
My freelance work. This might sound crazy but it’s the first thing I do when I get out of bed. I go straight to my home office and crank out the first chore of the day. It also makes me feel amazing that by the time I head off to my “day job” I’ve already put in a couple hours of work while everyone else was sleeping. Also, then when I get home in the evening, I don’t have to continue working and can just relax.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
Um… caffeine. In the past it’s been Diet Pepsi. I’m really trying to cut that out or at least reduce my intake but I used to basically drink it like a fish breathes water. So right now it’s Crystal light with caffeine. I can give up the soda, but not the caffeine.

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
This is tough because I truly believe I’m doing what I was made to do. I was born to be a writer. I was made to tell stories. I’m passionate about digital media and how we can use it to build common ground. I love agriculture and believe there is not another industry whose stories need so desperately to be communicated and that if they are communicated effectively have the ability to create immense positive change for our nation and our world.

If the ag thing didn’t work out, all limitations aside, I might have gone into journalism for one of the major news organizations or I’d be in D.C. telling the stories of politics. I love D.C. and politics and my husband refuses to live there. He also could care less about policy. However, either way I’d be living out my truth that stories have this insane power to create change and I want to be one of the lucky ones wielding the wand.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
Brooke Harshaw. The color purple. Limestone. K-State Football and Bill Snyder folklore. Raspberry Black Bean Chipotle Dip. Rent being only $375. The Thurston House. The Claflin House. The way people celebrate Kansas Day like it’s a national holiday. The people. Feeling at home.

*****

Nicole, I am so, so, so very thankful for our friendship and that I always have someone to chat with that totally gets it. Thank you for sharing your story on my blog. I know that others will appreciate it as much as I did. #westcoastbestcoast

Cheers!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Logan

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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First off, welcome back to this series! It has been long overdue! If you missed my post about bringing the series back, you can read that here.

I am so excited to welcome the series back with one of my favorites! I can’t exactly remember when I first met Logan, but it was sometime my sophomore year of college, when he was an incoming freshman. He was in the same department as me (ag communications), eventually became a fellow ambassador for the College of Ag and worked for a while with me as a student at the IGP Institute on campus. I struggled a bit with how I was going to introduce Logan because he is such an all-around great guy. I’m not sure I know anyone that works harder than Logan, or that is as committed to the things that he is passionate about. But what will always stand out to me is how great of friend he is to others and how much he invests in those around him. I’m so grateful that I can always rely on him for a serious chat and an honest reply in return, but also for the perfect sarcastic reply when we are talking about basically anything else. He also loves K-State sports, good Mexican food and doesn’t believe in the Oxford comma… so really, there shouldn’t be any question why I’m excited to share his story.

He just finished up a year-long fellowship here in DC and it was so much fun having him around! But I believe Logan is one of those people that was meant to teach and share the love the learning and agriculture with others, so I am so excited to see him to continue working towards his goals as a Ph.D. student.

-Amanda

Name: Logan Britton
Age: 25
Hometown: Bartlett, Kansas
College: Kansas State University
Degree(s): B.S. in Agriculture, Agricultural Communications and Journalism and Agricultural Economics; M.S., Agricultural Economics
Current Location: Stillwater, Oklahoma
Current Job: Ph.D. student and graduate research and teaching associate, Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics

Background Story:

I hail from a small town of 80 people in the southeast corner of Kansas, which owes its existence to an agricultural cooperative. It wasn’t until I took agricultural education classes and engaged in FFA programs during high school that I realized the importance and reach of agriculture. Throughout my childhood, I aspired to be a math teacher and doctor, but FFA allowed me to explore career possibilities within the agriculture industry.

One of our high school’s agricultural education instructors and FFA advisors is a family friend and recommend I enroll in an agriculture course during my freshman year. He exclaimed it would help me immensely – how right he was. My mom called my guidance counselor to take me out of my agriculture class once she got my schedule in the mail. In her mind, I had no future in the agriculture industry. She later recanted after observing how much I grew from the experience. I was blessed with four FFA advisors during my time at Labette County High School. Each of these men taught me various aspects of agriculture and how to be a leader. Through their encouragement and coaching, I transformed from a soft spoken and timid freshman to a strong, confident person ready for the challenges of college.

During my time at K-State, I worked in the College of Agriculture and one of its departments. Seeing the other side of higher education through academic programs, I soon discovered a passion for academia. As a college sophomore, I decided I would become a professor.

Fast forward six years later, I’m currently a graduate research and teaching associate and Ph.D. student in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State

College:

How did you choose your college and your major?
Through FFA, I participated in the agricultural communications career development event as a sophomore in which I completed the design practicum. I enjoyed learning the material, and it was there my love for agricultural communications began. While practicing for the CDE, I turned to one of my advisors and asked if I could do this for a living. He introduced me to material about Kansas State University’s College of Agriculture and the agricultural communications and journalism major. During high school, I gained experience in this field by running the FFA chapter’s website and designing printed materials as part of my supervised agricultural experience program.

I’ve always had a fascination with numbers, so while in FFA, I competed in the farm business management CDE. To enhance my education at K-State as well as learn more about agricultural markets, I decided to declare a dual major in agricultural economics.

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I was engaged at all levels while at K-State – I actively participated in College of Agriculture Ambassadors, College of Agriculture Student Council, Alpha Gamma Rho and Student Governing Association. I also participated in Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Student National Agri-Marketing Association, Alpha Zeta Honor Society in addition to Agriculture Future of America.

As an undergraduate student at K-State, I held part-time jobs with the IGP Institute (where I first met Amanda!), the College of Agriculture Academic Programs and the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education. In my tenure, I completed internships with the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Kansas Junior Livestock Show and the National FFA Organization.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
One of my challenges was saying no. During the first couple years, I was definitely a “yes man.” I wanted to make the most of my college experience by learning and doing anything I had interests in. Eventually, I got to the point where I was stretched a little too thin. I wasn’t getting enough sleep and wasn’t always in the best of moods. Once I started lightening my plate, my attitude changed.

One struggle I had to conquer in college was depression. I think this topic is taboo, especially in our culture and among guys. As mentioned earlier, I let stress overwhelm me. It got to the point where I’d get anxiety attacks, wanted to sleep constantly and couldn’t think straight. If I were to go back, I would have sought help sooner or found a healthful avenue to release my stress. I let my pride get in the way because I didn’t want my family, friends or people I admire see me struggle. Yet, I learned a great deal about myself through the experience.

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
In college, we spend a substantial time learning course materials and objectives, but some of the best teachers are the people around you. Spend time getting to know more about them and how they developed their skillsets. Be in the moment, especially around your friends, mentors and professors. Time in college will fly by. As humans, we tend to remember negative experiences more than positive ones. Take pictures to capture these memories or write in a journal about the positive times you have.


Post Grad:

Tell us about your career so far?
After I finished my bachelor’s degree in May 2015, I stuck around for another year in Manhattan to finish my master’s degree through the concurrent B.S./M.S. program in agricultural economics.

Once I finished my master’s degree, I received a yearlong graduate fellowship with the U.S. Grains Council which was partially fund by the Kansas Corn Commission. While with USGC in Washington, D.C., I analyzed U.S. coarse grain trade and the benefits of U.S. free trade agreements as well as developed a long-term demand model to determine future growth of U.S. feed grains. I utilized both of my disciplines – communications and economics – every single day either writing an economic article for the weekly newsletter, editing content on the website or calculating feed grains in terms of value-added equivalents.

Currently, I’m at Oklahoma State where I hope to conduct research in the areas of consumer and food economics as well price analysis and forecasting.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
Being involved in several things across K-State and in the agriculture industry, I learned a significant amount about the expectations of others and how to work more efficiently. For example, if my boss wanted me to complete a task by the end of the week, I would attempt to get a first draft done a few days before so that I could receive feedback and make enhancements before the final deadline. Being in two somewhat different disciplines in college helped with approaching a problem from different perspectives, so I’m able to think from an economic lens and then from a communications’ one.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
I’m a Type-A personality right down to the letter. At K-State, I feel as if we were prepared to take on several responsibilities through coursework and extracurricular activities. I have always worked at a fast pace, so I hit a brick wall in the real world. I realized other people may not work on the same rate. This has helped prepare me for an academic setting, where decisions about programs and journal articles may take a rather long time.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
Google Calendar is a blessing for my Type-A personality. I’m able access it on my phone or through a browser as well as color-coordinate different events and create to-do lists. Google Calendar also has a feature called goals, in which it will continually analyze your schedule and find the best fit for the activity you want to complete, such as working out or reading.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
When I set forth goals, I’m adamant to accomplish them with all my effort. So, my drive and work ethic are important assets. Through my experiences and academic disciplines, I have developed well-rounded skills and can use both sides of my brain. My top theme in StrenghtsFinder is harmony, which means I enjoy bringing people together and steering people clear of conflict. I also am observant of others, so I attempt to understand them and learn about their preferences. On the other hand, I am quite the introvert. This may shock some of my friends, but it takes a great deal of my energy to talk with others. So, I usually don’t make the best first impression nor would I ever cut it in a sales role. It takes me a handful of interactions to warm up and truly trust others.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
My faith is an important piece of who I am. When I get down or need to re-focus, I think of the saints and other holy people who got through difficult times by God’s will and grace. I also think of people who have great expectations for me, either now, such as my family or role models, or those in the future, such as my wife and kids.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
As a graduate student, this is a must. I try to either incorporate workouts or times to read into my schedule or participate in social events through the department or the Newman Center at OSU.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
It’s difficult to pin down to one thing. I have accomplished many feats in my life with some daunting constraints and obstacles. My education has been important to me as a first-generation college student. Thus far, I have financed my degrees on my own with relatively low debt.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
I’m currently single and have no prospects in sight (school has been my main squeeze for a long time), so my hobbies and interests are mainly those any mid-20-year-old male would have. I’ve been a skinny kid most of my life with some athletic ability. Recently, I’ve been working out regularly and eating a more balance diet to gain muscle. I’m by no means an Olympic weightlifter or fitness model, but I feel like I’m making progress toward my fitness goals.

I used to loathe reading thanks to Accelerated Reading in grade schools. Yet, with more free time and being more interested in learning, I’ve started to read again. Nothing too serious, but I mainly stick to books under the genres of theology, education and leadership.

I love sports, especially watching K-State play (Go ‘Cats), and spending time with friends and family.

What path are you looking to take next? Any long-term goals?
Hopefully I survive one more stint of school and obtain my Ph.D. in the next three to four years. The next segment in my journey through life will be trying to be hired as a faculty member at a land-grant university. Ideally, I would like to return to K-State; however, I understand that going elsewhere will only diversify my experience and make me a better teacher and researcher.

Just for Fun:

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
Either by eating a bowl of cereal or drinking a glass of orange juice.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
I need white noise to work. If I’m at home, I’ll watch TV or binge watch a Netflix series (Friends or How I Met Your Mother). If I’m in an office setting and it gets too quiet, I’ll put my headphones on and listen to my Spotify playlists.

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
If I could have muster enough courage and gained a stone-cold stomach, I would have been a medical doctor. I’ve always wanted to help people, so I’d either be in neurology, oncology or diagnostic medicine.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
I miss the proximity of friends. I know several colleges throw the word family around to describe the atmosphere. K-State is unique in which that mentality is engrained into students, especially in the College of Agriculture. It’s amazing to see what my friends are doing in this world and where they are currently. This also reinforces how well K-State programs train our students for the workforce.  … Also, I really miss Call Hall ice cream though.

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Logan, thanks for helping kick off relaunching this series. We miss you here in DC but are excited for your new adventure at Oklahoma State!

Cheers!

Love Letters

Love Letter: To Those With Hometown Roots and Wandering Souls

To those with hometown roots and wandering souls, this love letter is for you.

At my family’s cabin “The Diggins” in the Blue Mountains near Sumpter, OR. This post has a sign for every town that each of our family members are from. Mine is by far the furthest.

It’s been 8 years since I packed up my 18-year-old self and left Eastern Oregon for college in Kansas. And its been a little over 2.5 years since I packed up again and moved to Washington D.C.

I was visiting home last week and spent a little time with some family friends who have a daughter interested in attending K-State next year, so I answered all of their questions and shared a lot about my (awesome) experience. Toward the end, the mother asked if there was anything that I regretted. I said that I regretted never going on a study abroad trip and that I should have gotten season football tickets my freshman year, but no, overall I did not regret anything (well maybe a few nights in Aggieville that I wouldn’t mind forgetting.)

But leaving Eastern Oregon to attend Kansas State was the best decision I ever made.

Maybe it was because of our conversation, or maybe it was because I was home at my county fair, but it really made me reflect a bit on that decision and where it has led me. Over the years I have always had a small army of steadfast support, but there are still things I wrestle with. I hang on to a bit of guilt that there things that I inevitably miss out on and that maintaining relationships from a far takes a bit of extra work. It’s hard to be in an unfamiliar place where you don’t know anyone and constantly have to put yourself out there. And I still get questions from people who innocently just don’t get it.

It also made me think about other small town kids with the itch to wander.

I want them to know that having hometown roots and a wandering soul is possible.

I love my hometown. It’s a place where family businesses still reign and people give you the 2-finger steering wheel wave when you pass them on the road. It’s a place where teachers have taught multiple generations of students and where the community revolves around the high school sports schedule.  No matter how long I am away, there are Eastern Oregon sights, sounds, tastes and smells that are ingrained in my memory. Of course I miss it. It’s where my family is and will always be my home. But the world is a big, exciting place and if you are naturally curious like me, to not explore and experience it would be a crime. It’s hard to imagine that some of the people closest to me and some of my best memories wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t taken that leap of faith.

So to those with hometown roots and wandering souls, I want you to know…

You will cry more than you ever want to admit and you will want to give up many times. But you will eventually learn that that’s all OK. You are lucky to have people and places to miss and there is no shame in feeling sad or defeated from time to time. It reminds you that you are human.

Sometimes saying yes or no to things that come your way will be as easy as breathing and other times you will feel overwhelmed and challenged. Sometimes you are going to make the wrong decision, which you can always learn from, and sometimes it will take much longer than expected to reap the rewards of making the right decisions. And sometimes there is no right or wrong decision, so just choose one path and give it your honest best.

You are much braver and more resilient than you think.

You will be too much for some people. Those aren’t your people. Some of your people will be unexpected and some of your people will let you down. This is where you learn the art of giving and receiving grace. But I truly believe that you can meet great people wherever you go and that the further you wander the more interesting characters will fill your story and expose you to new things.

Sometimes you will embrace change and sometimes you’ll approach it kicking and screaming. Either way, it is inevitable, so rub some dirt on it and and figure out how you can respect the memories you have and find the positive in what is to come, because in my mind, the best is always yet to come.

As Logan Mize sings below, “You can lose a lot of things, but it’s hard to lose a hometown. Some things are bound to change but the sun still goes down just the same…”

Trust me, he’s right.

You will learn that you need to be more intentional and mindful of your words and time. You will also learn that a home and happiness are a state of mind that ultimately are up to you. Remember to respect that everyone is moving at their own pace and in their own direction, so what works you, might not work for them.

You will have a blast. I’m not saying that you can’t build an awesome life without ever wandering but exploring the world opens you up to new sights, sounds, tastes and smells that you can add alongside the hometown ones in your memory bank.

And most importantly, you can always come back home and the people who love you unconditionally will be there waiting for you.

Love, Amanda

katy