Jeannine Szostak, a former NIU student & Outdoor Adventures staff member, shares her knowledge about taking advantage of life's experiences.
She obtained her bachelor's degree in psychology while working full-time in college. Jeannine worked in food service on campus and at Outdoor Adventures, which was called the Office of Campus Recreation at the time. She became secondary treasurer of Rock and River Outdoors Club which was when she gained experience caring for equipment and leading trips.
Some of Jeannine's favorite OA memories were stargazing in cornfields and horseback riding, but the one that stood out was her journey to the Grand Canyon. They stopped in Pima and Flagstaff, AZ on the way. The group camped on the side of the road with mountain people and used solar power showers. The location was so remote that only four-wheel vehicles can access it.
She enjoys reminiscing on this special time by looking at her journal and photo album from the trip. The group took night hikes under the moonlight. They climbed over cable-foot bridges, went on 12-mile hikes, and survived off of rice and oatmeal for nourishment. Despite the fear, exhaustion, and long days Jeannine endured, this was better than any other job to her.
Jeannine has used these outdoor skills to make camping a tradition within her own family! Outdoor Adventures taught her to coordinate trips, repair equipment, and survive in the wilderness. With her two sons away at college, she and her daughters carried on the tradition by taking a road trip to Bighorn Canyon, Montana, and Badlands, South Dakota.
Not only did she learn outdoor skills, but she also learned how to have courage. The greatest lesson Jeannine has learned from her time at Outdoor Adventures was to "show up and do it. Don't let fear get in the way. Get out and try the trip. Learn new things, meet people, and you will make friends." Her best advice is to have fun and experience everything life has to offer!
The outdoors feel like home to her. It's her place to recharge and clear her mind. Jeannine was terrified to go on her first trip, but she put her mind to it, and she did it. This is the philosophy she uses every day.
In fact, Jeannine drove to Canada alone and hiked in the dead of winter a few years ago. Nothing stops her. Once she puts her mind to something, she will always do it. Jeannine has also earned three master's degrees at NIU and is currently the Director of Society Operations of Sigma Tau Delta of the International English Honors Society
Jeannine wants others to stop and soak it in the next time they're surrounded by nature. "Look around and see the amazingness." She is so happy that she took photos and journaled because these memories will last a lifetime.
Outdoor Adventures brought her experiences she would have never done alone. It's safe to say we could all learn something from Jeanine. Plan your next endeavor today!