April 26, 2013
OSWEGO, N.Y. – Ted Winkworth is the alcohol and other drug program coordinator at Oswego State. He is a graduate of the University at Buffalo with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a graduate of Syracuse University with a master’s degree in community mental health counseling. He even studied psychology at Oswego State for a year during his undergraduate studies. Now he is about to begin a journey that will be a new and exciting departure from the norm.
As the alcohol and other drug program coordinator, Winkworth works with the Lifestyles Center in drug and alcohol prevention at the university, and has been doing that for about three and a half years. However, Winkworth will be leaving his position at Oswego State after the end of this semester in order to embark on an intercontinental motorcycle tour.
This new adventure that Winkworth is about to embark on started out in a normal way, but after some thought on his part, turned into the exciting journey that he is now planning.
“I originally had applied to a Ph.D. program in Seattle, because I wanted to move to Seattle,” Winkworth said. “I thought it might be cool to get there on a motorcycle, and I said okay well I’ll just sell all my stuff and that way it will be easy for me to get there on a motorcycle. But, as I caught myself daydreaming, I wasn’t daydreaming about going to school; I was daydreaming about the trip to get there.”
“I thought to myself, I am going to be 30 years old in June,” Winkworth said. “I thought, we’ve all got this limited amount of time on this planet, and if I’m daydreaming about riding around on my motorcycle, why would I go and get myself locked into six years of school? Maybe I can make something out of my life that involves doing the things that I daydream about rather than just doing what I’m supposed to. So that’s what it is: I am going to try to make a go of it and see if there’s something out there for me that I can get hooked into.”
The idea for the journey that took the place of just going to graduate school came to Winkworth a few months ago.
“The first thought of it came to me in January. I was sitting on a beach in El Salvador (I was actually on an Alternative Break trip),” Winkworth said. “And I was looking around at all these great things people are doing in all of these different places, and thinking about all of the places I would still like to see, and all the good I’d still like to do.”
“I thought to myself, I could do this all the time,” Winkworth said. “And that’s what I plan to do; I plan to bounce around and volunteer at different places and help people farm, and help people build houses—basically wherever anybody will have me.”
Winkworth says his inspiration came from a transitional phase that he went through.
“We all go through these transitions, for a lot of people it is graduation, and the thought entered my mind for the first time in a few years: what am I going to do with the rest of my life?” Winkworth said. “And, I had that thought while I was sitting on a beach, watching waves roll in.”
“I thought to myself, there are no limits on what a person can do,” Winkworth said. “We get this idea of what we’re supposed to do, but why? And, I had to really ask myself what it is that I want. What I want is to travel, and I want to meet people, and I want to learn, and I want to inspire people to make their lives better. And, I think that I can do that from the back of a motorcycle.”
Winkworth started a website, ‘In Every Direction’, and uses it as home to his blog, résumé, the sales for his belongings that he is getting rid of, and a place where people can donate, if they choose to.
“… I am going to take photos of cool places, I’m going to talk to them about different places they might want to travel to, and I am going to talk about the experience. The blog and the project are all about helping people understand that there is more out there that they can get connected into, if they just let go of their plan for a little while,” Winkworth said. “The goal is to say, hey look, I’m not going to pretend I am any sort of travel guru, or Zen master, or anything like that. But, as a normal human, I’m selling all of my stuff, and trying to be okay with that, I’m putting myself on the back of a motorcycle, and trying to be okay with that, and I am venturing into the unknown, without a job.”
“And, if I can pull this off, and it comes off in the way I want it to, I think that could be a message to a lot of young 20-somethings that are trying to figure out what to do with their lives, to hopefully ease some of their anxieties,” Winkworth said.
“We have been told from the time that we were kids, you have to go to school, well then what? You have to go to college, well then what? Either get a job or get a Master’s degree. Well then what? There’s always this ‘then what?’ Then you talk to somebody and say, well what would you do if money were no object? And, they say ‘oh, I would love to travel. But, I can’t do that; I have got to make some money before I do that!’” Winkworth said. “I really want to go out on a shoestring budget, and say, ‘hey college kids who are broke: you can do this.’ You might not be staying in five-star hotels, and you might have to be a little creative, but you can go out and you can get thing things that you want without having to get locked in to all of this other stuff that you are told you are supposed to do.”
“And, eventually you are doing to find a way to contribute to the world,” Winkworth said. “Eventually you are going to find the way to be your best self, but chase those dreams, don’t let them die. Don’t wake up one day when you are 40 or 50 years old and say ‘why didn’t I do that?’, because you convinced yourself that it was beyond your reach.”
Winkworth’s departure from his position on the Oswego State staff is not going to be easy for him.
“It’s super hard. I love this place. Our center is super fun,” Winkworth said. “We, I think, have reached a lot of students since I’ve been here. I love the connection that I have with the students here. This is the hardest job I’ve ever had to leave.”
Winkworth’s co-workers love him as much as he loves Oswego State.
“As AOD Coordinator in the Lifestyles Center, Ted Winkworth has been a proven asset to our students and within services provided at Walker Health Center,” said Elizabeth Burns, nurse practitioner and assistant director of Health Services at the Mary Walker Health Center at Oswego State. “He has excellent skill in compiling information from the research and real-world experiences. Ted easily relates to students and his colleagues and will be greatly missed. We wish him well in his next adventure.”
Shelly Sloan is the health promotion coordinator in the Lifestyles Center at Oswego State. She works side by side with Winkworth on a daily basis in the Lifestyles Center.
“Ted is one of the best co-workers ever,” Sloan said. “We have a lot of fun at work but we also get a lot done.”
Rebecca Burch also works with Winkworth.
“I have known Ted for almost a decade and he is one of my favorite people,” Burch said. “Actually, he is my favorite person. He has done an amazing amount of work and has had a huge impact on the campus. I think his new adventure is exactly what he needs to do, and even though I don’t want him to leave, I can’t wait to see what happens. It’s going to be amazing.”
“At the Lifestyles Center, we are a family. With Ted’s departure, we truly feel like we are losing a family member,” Sloan said. “We will miss him tremendously but wish him well on the next chapter of his life.”