Meet Travis Long
Travis Long, a senior Midway Honors Scholar, transferred to ETSU from Walters State Community College with an associate degree in business administration and certificate in general education. The management major with a concentration in general management commutes to ETSU from his home in Morristown, where he works full time at Carousel Pets as a shift leader. Long enjoys being active in a variety of leadership roles on campus, and talks about everything from pets to improving the ETSU experience for transfer, adult and commuting students in this Q&A.
Dog person or cat person?
Dog. With cats, you have to deal with cat hair and litter boxes, which I can’t stand.
What drew you to work at Carousel Pets?
One, I was in need of a job, and two, I love animals. I’ve loved animals since I was small. I’ve owned all kinds of animals. At one time, my partner and I owned more animals than the pet store ever thought about owning. I think we had over 400 animals in our house, everything from rabbits to chinchillas, hamsters …
Tell us a bit about your early life.
I’m a product of a single-parent home. My father was never around. My mother pretty much raised my brother and me. I was born in Hamblen County but grew up in Bulls Gap, a very rural town. I definitely wouldn’t say I was privileged – I’ve had to fight for everything I’ve earned. But coming from that background, I’m able to reflect and see where I’ve come from, and it makes where I’m at and where I’m going that much more important to me.
What led you to choose ETSU after earning your associate degree at Walters State?
My original school was the University of Tennessee, which I think had to do with my mother and stepdad’s involvement with football, but it was also closer. But when it came down to the time and money crunch, ETSU offered the Midway scholarship. Since being here, I realize I made a very wise decision, because the College of Business and Technology is among the small percentage of schools in the United States with AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation. So I’m glad I chose ETSU. Plus, I didn’t want to be in classes with 500 to 600 students. Coming from Walters State, where we had a more personal student-teacher relationship, I wanted to continue that as well.
How would you describe your transition from community college to university life?
It was very hard. I almost quit my first semester. At Walters State, I was president of Phi Theta Kappa, vice president of Kappa Beta Delta, member of Xi Beta, treasurer of Word Up (a student organization in English at Walters State). I knew all the administration and faculty, and was on several different boards. I was very involved and knew everybody. So I pretty much went from being “the face of my school” to being “nobody,” and it was a very rough adjustment getting on that same level with my professors. But after the first semester, it improved greatly. I probably would not be here if it had not been for ACTS (ETSU’s Center for Adult, Commuter and Transfer Services). Jennifer Rice and Carla Warner saved me. They asked me to be an inaugural member of the Transfer Student Advisory Council for ACTS, and that gave me a way of fitting in with other college students.
What are some of the accomplishments of the new Transfer Student Advisory Council, and how is that organization paving the way to an improved experience for current and future transfer students at ETSU?
We look at different ways of including transfer, adult and commuter students, because it seems that they sometimes “fall through the cracks,” as opposed to traditional students starting out as freshmen. We’ve had a movie night out by the Basler Center for Physical Activity, and last year, we had people from the Storytelling Program come out and tell ghost stories by the campfire and roast s’mores. We look at the ACTS web pages to make sure they’re user-friendly, and try to help improve them. Overall, the main purpose is to reach through to those particular students who might “fall through the cracks,” make sure they feel welcomed and help them find their spot, even if it’s not directly with ACTS. We try to promote all aspects of campus life.
You are also president of ETSU’s Beta Tau Chapter of Tau Sigma honor society for transfer students. Tell us about some of the things that organization is doing.
In Tau Sigma, we’re getting ready to do an event for National Transfer Student Week (Oct. 15-19, #transferstudentweek). We’re going to host a game show, “The Deal is Right” (Oct. 19, 6 p.m., 206 Brown Hall)*. Students can come and get away from the busy life of classes and the stress of tests and enjoy being around other commuters and adult students, and other students as well. It’s open to anybody. Students can win anything from a pack of Ramen noodles to a $50 gift card. But the main thing for Tau Sigma is to recognize transfer students for their academic excellence.
It’s a long drive from Morristown to Johnson City and back at least twice a week. Besides paying attention to driving, what occupies your time and thoughts during that long commute?
A lot of my time on the way here I spend going over my schedule for the day in my head, making sure I’ve got everything that I need to do down pat. For example, if there’s a test, I would normally go over some of the things for the test that I remember right off the top of my head. If it’s meetings, I try to prepare, to know what I’m going to say, or what my response would be to questions. On the way home, I process and reflect on the day to make sure I’ve met or exceeded my expectations. I use it for personal time, “me time.” The world is so hectic that sometimes it’s nice to just breathe.
What are your short-term and long-term goals for the future?
To complete my B.B.A., and get admitted for my M.B.A. while I continue to work, and just try to live my life to the point of being happy internally and hope that resonates externally into other people’s lives to help cheer them up from time to time. My long-term goals are to attain my doctorate in international business and work for five or 10 years, however long I need to invest enough money to comfortably retire and to give me the means to accomplish my mission in life. I know I’m supposed to change the world. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to change it, but I feel like I have the ability to have a dramatic impact on the world in some positive shape, form or fashion, whether that be through a non-profit organization or motivational speaking or consulting. I have no clue where life will lead me. I’ll know when I get there.
Between that long commute, your studies and working full time, you surely don’t have much spare time, but in those rare moments when you do, what are some things you enjoy?
Close friends and family mean everything. That’s the world. Without close friends and family, you really would be alone in this world. Nature – I enjoy nature. Anything having to do with nature, anything outdoors. That’s how I recharge. When my soul feels drained or stressed, I just go out in nature and let it absorb my problems as I absorb its calmness.
*NOTE: Additional National Transfer Student Week events at ETSU include D.J. Trivia Night on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. on Court 4 at the Basler CPA and a Campus Services Fair on Oct. 18 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Quad. To learn more, contact Adult, Commuter and Transfer Services at 423-439-5641 or firstname.lastname@example.org. ACTS is located in room 104 of the Sherrod Library.