Tangible Memories from the Road, as Told by Senior Educational Leadership Consultant Nick Kobernik

When traveling as an Educational Leadership Consultant (ELC), men have the unique opportunity to drive across the continent, stopping in cities large and small. It is nearly impossible to be assigned a new region and not have at least one place you have never been before.

That new and exciting place could be far off the beaten path in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (home of Millersville University), or deep in the heart of the hustle and bustle of New York City (home of New York University). Along this adventure, some consultants choose to collect something from stops along their way. These collectables may be from special cities and towns that the consultant found interesting, or something to commemorate each university the consultant visits. Each collection is a personal memento which the consultant can ideally use to reminisce on his time on staff for years to come.

Consultants have been doing this for countless years, and collections have varied a number of ways. Some professional staff continue this tradition on to this day! Two key men in particular are Marcus Kelley, Associate Director of Education, and Allen Horton, Alumni Development Officer for the Educational Foundation.

When both of these men started on staff, they originally started as ELCs. Kelley traveled the Great Plains, Midwest, Rocky Mountains & West Coast, while Horton traveled the Great Plains and Colonial Regions of the United States. Both men have gone on to do great things for Lambda Chi Alpha, and they both occasionally visit a campus or chapter they hadn’t previously.

Just some of Kelley’s extensive collection.

Whenever Kelley visits a new campus, he purchases a magnet. If for some reason the campus didn’t sell magnets, he would buy a keychain to make one of his own! This may seem like a simple token, but to him each has a personal story attached in some way, shape, or form. Kelley has all of his magnets on a wall in his office at IHQ, where he can relive those memories each and every day.

Horton’s collection works a little bit differently. He collects golf balls, but he will not purchase a new golf ball unless he actually has the ability to work on the campus. This doesn’t occur as often now that he works primarily with alumni, but in the chance that it does, he is sure to pick up one. Horton keeps his collection in a shadow box at his home. He, too, has the opportunity to reminisce on the work that he has done, and the impact he has made every day.

Horton’s golf ball collection

When I hit the road at the beginning of last year, I knew that I wanted something to collect. It had to be something unique, but small; inexpensive, but personal. I spoke with other men on staff to get ideas, many wanted to collect magnets, a few just wanted a picture but neither of those felt like they fit me.

My first visit in the fall of 2016 was at Villanova University. I had some free time and perused the gift shop looking for something which may do the trick. I wanted something that didn’t just remind me of the school, but the chapter that I was working with. They were after all the reason I first stepped foot on campus. After looking for awhile, I finally decided on what I should pick up, a simple postcard. A postcard may not seem like much, but if you think about it, to this day it is considered one of the main trademarks of travel.

At the end of the visit, I pulled my postcard out during my meeting with the High Alpha (President). I explained to him my story of trying to collect something on the road, and how I wanted to add a personal touch to it. I then asked if he would sign and date the back. In my mind this was the perfect way to remember the visit. As I traveled throughout the Northeast last year, I found the perfect way to end my visit was to have the High Alpha sign my card. Sometimes he would add some extra message, sometimes it was just a signature. Either way it added an extra moment to the visit which I greatly appreciated.

When I finish my time on the road this spring, I plan on having my postcards professionally framed. Someday they may hang in my future office, or future home. Wherever they are, every time I look back at them, they will be there to remind me of all the fantastic memories that I made while traveling as an Educational Leadership Consultant.

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