Suzanne Roberts is already packing her bags. Winner of the Next Great Travel Writer Contest, she doesn’t leave for her first assignment until July, but Roberts said the contest’s prize — a trip to Mongolia and the Gobi Desert — is exciting to the point of distraction.
“I was thrilled to get the call notifying me about the Next Great Travel Writer Contest. In fact, I jumped up and down and screamed, which has probably left my neighbors wondering,” said Roberts, a 38-year-old doctoral student of literature and the environment at the University of Nevada, Reno.
National Geographic Traveler magazine and Travcoa recently selected Roberts as the Next Great Travel Writer out of almost 500 students who entered their contest to find the next generation of travel writers. Roberts not only wins a seat on Travcoa’s “Mongolia & The Gobi Desert” journey in July next to National Geographic Traveler magazine Editor in Chief Keith Bellows, but also the opportunity to write about her experience for National Geographic Traveler’s Web site.
Roberts had planned on pursuing a career in travel writing after she finished writing her dissertation. “I often journal and write poems about my travel adventures, but I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with a wider audience,” Roberts said. “Being a travel writer, especially for National Geographic Traveler, has been a dream of mine since I was little. It combines the two things I love most in the world: travel and writing.”
Bellows will show her the travel writing ropes during their journey together this July. “Something in my gut told me Suzanne was our writer when I read her essay,” Bellows said. “Her story instincts were good, and that is something you cannot teach a new writer.”
Nine finalists were also chosen (in order): Christine Steele, Goucher College; Jaclyn Gereluk, University of British Columbia; Nicole Lunstead, Royal Roads University; Sarah Coury, Western Michigan University; Emma Cofer, Vanderbilt University; Jessica Goldberg, University of Michigan; Daniela Bloch, Northwestern University; Mackenzie Berg, University of Denver; and Christopher Baker, Louisiana State University.
“We were thrilled at the number of talented writers and passionate travelers who entered this contest. And we know Suzanne will find a magnificent story to tell in Mongolia,” said Randy Durband, Travcoa president.