T-Bird on the River

by Emma Livingston, Staff Writer

The Bolivian waveth not for me this summer (photo courtesy of pixgood.com)

The Bolivian waveth not for me this summer (photo courtesy of pixgood.com)

Summer break is upon us, and though I’ve learned so much at Thunderbird, and though I thoroughly enjoyed my module abroad in Europe and the traveling I did afterwards, I realized, as I came back to my hometown of Denver and as May slipped into June, that I am no closer to knowing what I want to do with my life and my career than when I started my MBA program. On top of that, my internship with the State Department that would have taken me to Bolivia to learn about a career in the Foreign Service, fell through.

Glenwood Canyon, site of my June rafting trip (photo courtesy of www.colorado.com)

Glenwood Canyon, site of my June rafting trip (photo courtesy of www.colorado.com)

So I was feeling a bit melancholy and lost the first week in June when I went up with my mom to the tiny Colorado mountain town of Glenwood Springs to spend the weekend. Luckily, we made an excellent decision: we decided to go rafting.

Glenwood Springs is at the mouth of the Glenwood Canyon, one of the prettiest canyons in Colorado, carved by the mighty Colorado River. The river was running fast and high the day in early June when we stopped into the Whitewater Rafting Company to pick up our boat and our guide for our three-hour trip. That’s where I met Bob Morse.

Bob Morse, Outdoor Specialist's business card (photo courtesy of Emma Livingston)

Bob Morse, Outdoor Specialist’s business card (photo courtesy of Emma Livingston)

Bob Morse is a longtime river guide and “outdoor specialist” (according to his business card). He spent many years leading 14-day raft trips down the Grand Canyon. He’s in his 70s, with “two titanium shoulders,” but all the time spent outdoors and being active keeps him looking pretty fit for his age. He is an excellent guide: As we floated down the river and navigated the rapids, he told us stories of the turbulent geology along the river, and the strange history of the settlers who came to this valley. He pointed out hidden arches and caves in the cliffs above us and recounted quirky recent history of the towns of No Name and Glenwood Springs.

Little town with the name of No Name near Glenwood Springs (photo courtesy of imfromdenver.com)

Little town with the name of No Name near Glenwood Springs (photo courtesy of imfromdenver.com)

As the rapids slowed and the sun sank lower on the river, talk turned to Bob’s adventurous, eclectic life. He told us that, aside from being a rafting guide, he teaches first aid classes, works as an EMT, and is a professor of German and French at the local community college.

I was impressed by his diverse skill set, including his language abilities, so I asked him, “What did you study in school?”

“Well, I went to a school that specialized in International Business…” he began.

“Oh, really?” I said. “I study international business too.”

“Which school do you go to?” he asked.

“It’s called Thunderbird,” I said.

Bob let the oars drop in the water and he reached over and shook my hand.

“That’s my alma mater!” he exclaimed. “I graduated in 1970.”

I was shocked that I had met a Thunderbird alum floating down the Colorado River in this tiny mountain town. It reaffirms for me that you never know where you’ll find a T-Bird roosting.

“Yeah, I tried international business for awhile” Bob told me. “I worked for an international company in Europe in a management position for a few years. But then the company got bought by another company, they laid everybody off, and I realized: maybe international business is not for me. I love the outdoors. And I’ve been making a living doing what I love ever since.”

Another scene along the Colorado River outside Glenwood Springs (photo courtesy of Emma Livingston)

Another scene along the Colorado River outside Glenwood Springs where Bob Morse guides tourists on raft trips (photo courtesy of Emma Livingston)

Although Bob has rejected the “international business” part of his Thunderbird degree, to me he seemed like the epitome of what makes a T-Bird: He is an adventurous, passionate person looking for the perfect niche that allows him to do what he loves while making use of his many talents.

Rafting down the river of life (photo courtesy of Emma Livingston)

Rafting down the river of life (photo courtesy of Emma Livingston)

Meeting Bob at this point in my summer was very important for me. First of all, he reminded me that sometimes life takes a very convoluted path before you discover what you should be doing and what really makes you happy. Second, he was living proof that a degree in international business doesn’t consign you to a life sitting behind a desk pushing paper. As a fellow outdoor enthusiast and lover of adventure, this was an exciting lesson for me. And finally, Bob showed me the value of being patient with myself. It took Bob three years after graduating from Thunderbird before realizing that a career in corporate management wasn’t for him. I don’t have to be despondent because I am halfway through my MBA program and am not positive what my career path should be. I will keep exploring, keep trailblazing, keep on floating down the river and navigating the rapids, and I trust that my purpose will gradually reveal itself like a beautiful view that opens up to you when you stop fighting the current and let the river take you round the next bend.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

*