Sarah Beth Tunnell first joined LeadAbroad as a student on LEAD Cape Town in 2012. She built such great relationships on her trip that two years later, in 2014, she hiked Macchu Picchu in Peru with an awesome group of young people (including our very own team member Carolyn) just for fun! Also that year, she recruited her younger sister, Natalie, to join us on LEAD Cape Town. It’s safe to say Sarah Beth lives a life full of adventure and encourages others to do the same.
Sarah Beth is one of our rockstar alumni in so many ways. She is passionate about service, which has led her to a rewarding career. She is such a lover of travel, which has taken her to so many cool places. And mostly, she has stayed in touch, which is just another example of how GREAT our alumni is and how much they have impacted and inspired our staff, our current students, and our prospective students.
Read our exclusive interview below to learn more about Sarah Beth!
LeadAbroad: Tell us about yourself!
Sarah Beth: I grew up in the panhandle of Texas: Plainview to be exact. (The name is very representative of what the town looks like.) Upon graduation, I was the only student from my graduating class that decided to head down to Austin to attend The University of Texas at Austin in August of 2009. These four years shaped me more than I could ever imagine, and LeadAbroad was a BIG part of that. Post-grad life has definitely presented itself with some challenges, but it has honestly been a blast. I would definitely say that what makes me “tick” is travel…just like every other 20-something out there. I enjoy exploring and learning about new cultures and being surrounded by natural beauty – there is nothing quite like it. These days, when I am not working, I spend my free time eating good food with good friends, reading, planning the next adventure, rock climbing, and to be honest, the occasional activity of watching Netflix.
LeadAbroad: What are you up to these days?
Sarah Beth: I am currently working for a ministry called Buckner International in Dallas, Texas. Buckner aims to provide holistic support through services such as Foster Care and Adoption, Humanitarian Aid, Retirement Services and more. I currently work for a project called Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls that provides humanitarian aid in the form of shoes and socks to orphans and vulnerable children all around the world. I am constantly humbled and inspired by the people I get to meet and know as well as the places I visit.
LeadAbroad: How did your experience abroad help you get to where you are?
Sarah Beth: I fully believe that my time in Cape Town helped shape the course of my life in many ways. Before Cape Town, I had never been out of the country, witnessed extreme poverty, or been in a new place with about 120 complete strangers. It stretched me. I was exposed to a world outside of my bubble, beyond what I could see or imagine. It spurred me to push forward and realize the bigger picture in life. My time in Cape Town equipped me with skills and experiences that are priceless and have helped get me to where I am today.
LeadAbroad: What is your favorite memory from the program?
Sarah Beth: Favorite Memory…this is so hard. I had many, MANY favorite memories while in Cape Town with instant friends that by the end of our time, felt like family. If I had to point out a favorite memory, it would be the last night of Adventure Week. This was the day that we had spent the morning going on a safari and spent the afternoon jumping off of a bridge. Needless to say, everyone was on a high and the mood was indescribable. We sat around a large campfire at our hostel and under the stars writing out our ultimate Bucket List. Great conversations and memories were shared on this night, and just like any good time, it ended in an ultimate dance party. I occasionally pull out my Big Blue Book and go straight to the page where I jotted down my Bucket List when I need a little reminder to get outside of my comfort zone.
LeadAbroad: What advice do you have for our current students?
Sarah Beth: Advice. Let go of the fear. Fear has a tendency to hold you back from really getting the most out of moments and experiences. Let go of the fear of the unknown, a new culture, a new country, new people, and new experiences. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t easy. Being a fearful person by nature, I definitely struggled with this at the beginning of my time in Cape Town. However, the more I realized that these fears were hindering me from stepping outside of my comfort zone and getting the most out of my time abroad, I realized it was time to let them go. It’s worth it.
LeadAbroad: What is your favorite quote?
Sarah Beth: “Admire as much as you can. Most people don’t admire enough.” -Vincent Van Gogh
LeadAbroad: What is your #1 song on your life playlist?
Sarah Beth: California (Cast Iron Soul) by Jamestown Revival
So what do you think, LeadAbroaders?! Get a group of friends together and go out for an adventure!! Sarah Beth shows us that anything is possible after your growth experience on LeadAbroad.
-The LeadAbroad Team