“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” – T. E. Lawrence
In this post, I was lucky enough to get an interview from the inspirational Omar Alberto Chavez!
I met Omar while I was in the UCC last fall and quickly realized that this was not his first rodeo… he had been traveling and working in some incredible places like Hawaii, Alaska, and Russia — and was going on to do some really big things!
Name: Omar Alberto Chavez
Hometown: El Paso, Texas
Current location: El Paso, Texas
Current job: Unemployed
Favorite comfort food: Flan
Favorite quote: “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” Oscar Wilde
What first inspired you to travel?
Geography books in grade school and National Geographic. I couldn’t get enough looking at the beautiful mountains, waterfalls, jungles and man-made structures from around the world. I always pictured myself exploring these wonderful places after high school.
What is the most amazing place that you’ve been or lived (or both)?
Toklat, Alaska is the most amazing place I’ve lived. It’s located at the mouth of the Toklat River inside Denali National Park and Preserve. Toklat was magical with all the wildlife and beautiful scenery you only see in books. At times I couldn’t believe I was living in a remote part of the country and sometimes you forget about the wildlife. One time, when doing laundry I stepped out of my cabin and I saw a brown spot in the corner of my eye near my roommate’s car. In the distance lay a male grizzly bear taking a siesta. My eyes saw it, but my mind couldn’t process the short distance from myself to where the wild animal was laying. Of course I slowly went inside my cabin and watched him with admiration. At this point I couldn’t care less if laundry was going to happen.
What’s the most interesting job you’ve ever worked?
I worked for three National Parks as an interpreter in Denali National Park and Preserve as a Park Ranger. Haleakalā National Park in Maui, Hawai’i with the SCA (Student Conservation Association) interpretive division. And, a volunteer position in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park in the Big Island of Hawai’i. All equally beautiful with amazing scenery engraved in my memory.
How did you get that job, and do you have any tips for anyone who would want to do the same?
A colleague of mine who worked for the university career center mentioned a really cool internship for the National Park Service. I applied for their recruitment event held at Acadia National Park. And a week later I heard back from the career center stating a young lady and I were chosen to represent the university at the event. The following summer I was hired in Alaska as an interpreter and the young lady was hired in Grand Teton National Park. The program/ internship, was STEP (Student Temporary Employment Program) a program to help students get a federal job for the summer. The program SCEP (Student Career Experience Program) provides experience related to the studies of the individual. The new program is called Pathways it replaced STEP and SCEP program and offers paid opportunities to explore federal agencies while completing their education. Here is a video for Denali National Park and Preserve. New Generations.
What’s the coolest skill you’ve acquired through your experiences?
I’m no expert, but learning how to interpret the national parks history and natural resources to large tour groups. Being an Interpretive Park Ranger helped me tremendously tackle my fear.
What was the largest challenge you’ve faced (or most memorable one)?
I was always timid growing up I never spoke in class mainly because I was afraid I would stutter or mince words and that was very embarrassing. Yes, I knew how to speak English, but wasn’t confident speaking it to a large audience. Before leaving my hometown I rarely spoke English at home. Many people across the country do not understand that you can live your entire life in a border town and survive speaking only in Spanish. If I ever spoke in English it was always with a small group of people I knew. Getting out my comfort zone made me realize how important it is to lose your fear and forget what people think and say about you.
What do you see yourself doing one year from now? What about 5 years from now?
In a couple of months I leave for Azerbaijan with the Peace Corps to teach English as a second language. In 5 years I see myself living in a Scandinavian country pursuing higher education.
How do you like to keep yourself entertained when you’re not working?
I read, listen to music on the internet and go on hikes by myself. Other times I hang out with my close friends and sometimes I go outside and kick a soccer ball in my backyard for a while.
What are you most excited for in the coming year?
I’m really excited for the two year journey with the Peace Corps. Follow my journey at instagram.com/oachavez11
I don’t know about you guys, but I find Omar to be an incredible inspiration and I’m really happy he shared some of his story. Thank you Omar, you are amazing — and all the best of luck in your Peace Corps adventure!!
The two photos in this post are credit to Omar Alberto Chavez.
“Dream big and dare to fail.” – Norman Vaughan