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Cara Orbell ’22 interviews her guest Matt McDonell. McDonell, a veteran himself, is the founder of Next 18, the organization that provides golf camps (with holistic life and mental health resources) for veterans.

Cara Orbell ’22 is Going Places

Cara Orbell ’22 started a podcast series that she's kept going through this strange COVID-19-influenced school year. She thought her series was going to be about travel. But in the podcast process – and, simultaneously, through the pandemic – she realized there are all kinds of ways to get where you want to go.

When the pandemic hit, Orbell had already made a few episodes of Going Places, which was at this time a strictly travel-centric podcast. As she prepared to move forward, the direction shifted and she began to focus more on how people found what they love to do and the stories about their journeys.

“I’ve interviewed community leaders, entrepreneurs, veterans, authors and experts who tell fascinating stories and give amazing advice,” Orbell says in the introduction to an episode.

Guests of the podcast for previous episodes include the Iowa-based band Citrus Sunday and Orbell’s high-school Spanish teacher.

In October of 2020, Orbell published a short, special-edition episode covering her experience in COVID-19 isolation during the fall semester. The episode encompasses the spirit of what Going Places became after Orbell switched directions: a podcast focusing on experiences, stories and advice.

At the end of an episode, Orbell asks her guests a typical travel question with a clever spin. Instead of the place the guest most wants to visit, Orbell forces them to get creative.

goingplaces_inline210.jpgIf you could go anywhere in the world, where would you not go?” Orbell asks. 

Orbell has grown in her podcast hosting skills since the early episodes, and the podcast itself has undergone a shift from her initial idea. The podcast guests share stories of their own growth into who and where they are today. The opening line of the podcast’s description encompasses this major theme.

“Going Places is a podcast for people who want to grow,” writes Orbell.

College, communio and conversation
The episode of Going Places released on April 13, 2021, features an interview between Orbell and a familiar face: her very own college president. The interview with President Brian Bruess ’90 centers around a discussion of communio, SNC and stories from the president’s own life and travels.

Several stories are shared during the podcast, including those of Bruess’ time at the college as a student. Some of them reference Carol (Sessler) Bruess ’90 and the pair’s early relationship. Most importantly, Orbell led a discussion about the college and its strength and campus culture.

“Boy, there’s never been a year, maybe one could say, where communio has been more evident than this year. The way students have sacrificed themselves and other things this semester to be successful and cared for each other ...” Bruess says about the 2020-21 school year.

Their conversation emphasizes the strength of the college community, with references to how the value of communio shapes campus and the students, and to the mentorship Bruess himself experienced at the college in his student days.

As an individual employed in higher education at his alma mater, Bruess, in discussion with Orbell, provides advice for college students based on his experiences and observations.

“So, if I could ever get students to know one thing, it's really immerse yourself [in college] ... that is the single best predictor and catalyst for your own human flourishing.”

While it’s difficult to take risks, Bruess says, and people bring worries and fears and anxieties to the process, “when we can liberate students to really explore, take risks, try new things and really immerse (themselves), when that happens, the magic of flourishing happens.”

As for Orbell’s final question, stream the episode to hear the rest of the conversation and where President Bruess would not like to travel.

Aug. 31, 2021