Here’s my question – why hasn’t anyone else asked me about my travels for scholarship essays? I guess it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that when begging for money, it’s not wise to elaborate on my extensive world travels and adventures. Therefore, when submitting scholarship essays, I downplay my travels to only include mission trips to South Africa, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. But you asked for it, so hold on to your hats because this is going to be fun. Humor

My mother retired from the airline industry, as did her mother.  My first trip was when I was 6 weeks old and now I’m 19. I have visited 15 countries and 35 states with adventures including cliff diving in Dominican Republic, scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, climbing the Great Wall of China, exploring the Great Pyramids of Giza, floating in the Dead Sea, seeing the Great Buddha in Kyoto, ziplining through the canopy in Costa Rica, experiencing a Shuttle Launch at Cape Canaveral and more. Humor

Traveling the world non-rev was the #1 reason my mother chose to homeschool me until the 4th grade with monthly trips to zoos, museums, castles, and monuments. When I visited the Hearst Castle, I understood how someone who traveled the world at a young age, went on to achieve such greatness. When you see with your eyes, touch with your hands, and experience first-hand what the world has to offer, it broadens your perspective on the limitless possibilities. In addition, one gains respect for other cultures. Humor

Honestly, it feels bourgeois to brag about my global travel adventures, but it is challenging.  It requires patience, creativity, flexibility, resilience, spontaneity, thinking on your feet while you’re asleep, and (except for writing this essay) humility. For every story about adventure, I have two stories about the trials of getting there. Like the time I was stranded for 24 hours in Chicago because of a snowstorm, or the time my missed my flight caused me to miss a cruise, or the most recent of standing by for two days to South Africa which meant I was too late to accompany my family on a safari. Humor

In these events, my mom always makes it very clear what our plan of action will be.  With syncopated claps she enumerates all the things we’re not going to do “What we’re not gonna do is pay for a real ticket” (even if we all have to be back to school and work the next day).  “What we’re not gonna do is get a hotel if we only have 6 hours to wait” (even if it’s between midnight and 6 am).  And I can’t count how many times I’ve struggled to pack two weeks’ worth of clothes in my carry-on, because “What we not gonna do is check a bag.” And if all those “not gonnas” aren’t enough, I am REQUIRED to attend all family/friend functions including weddings, funerals, graduations and bar mitzvahs, and I am not even Jewish. Why not, after all, Mom says, “You travel for free.” Humor

All of my travels, with their glamour and hassles, have shaped the person I am today. Like William Hearst, my travels shaped my worldview and each adventure inspired me to succeed.  I was the first African American class president and valedictorian of a 100-year-old school.  I owe a debt to society so, to culminate my love for travel, my desire to give back, and my passion for medicine, I’ve committed to participating in Doctors Without Borders before settling down into my career as a pediatric gastroenterologist here at home. I count it a blessing to be born in the United States, with valuable resources such as education and medicine. As Uncle Ben said in Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” My responsibility is to use these resources and experiences I’ve gained to aid the world where such resources aren’t available. Humor


Joseph Smittick is a winner of the $750 #NonRevSpiritAward for the 2018 spring semester.

Joseph is Biomedical Sciences student at Oakwood University who not only travels the world for his own non-rev enjoyment, but travels to give back in places like the Dominican Republic, South Africa, and Costa Rica. The son of a Frontier Airlines employee, Joseph spent his homeschool years (until the 4th grade) utilizing the world as his field trip and textbook.

The first African American class president and valedictorian of a 100-year-old school, Joseph presses on to take all that he’s learned on his non-rev adventures (like patience, flexibility, and understanding) to change the world. We’re so proud of your commitment to participate in Doctors Without Borders, Joseph, we know you’ll rock the opportunity!

Author: Emily (@ID90 Travel)

Emily is the Content Marketing Manager here at ID90 Travel. An avid non-rev flyer (she grew up in the industry), and passionate private pilot, Emily can’t get enough of all things aviation. When not writing awesome ID90 Travel content she can be found on a Texas patio, being one with nature, or annoying her ID90T co-workers with her many, many, crowdsourcing questions.