Journey of a lifetime: JMS Alumnus Mark Orwoll shares his global adventures as a travel writer

Thursday, March 21, 2024
Orwoll celebrates making it to Machu Picchu.
Orwoll celebrates making it to Machu Picchu.

Most people dream of getting paid to travel the world. For JMS alumnus Mark Orwoll ('78), that dream became a reality as he crisscrossed the globe working as a travel writer. Orwoll recalls that his interest in the craft began when he was young.

“I was always interested in writing. From the time I was in high school, even before then, I was told by my teachers I was a good writer. And I knew that was something I wanted to do.” 

Although he knew he wanted his career to revolve around writing, Orwoll wasn’t aware of the opportunities in journalism when he started at SDSU.

“Initially, I came as an English major and took creative writing classes, which were great and I admire people who do that. But it was shortly later that I realized, you know what? If you get a job at a newspaper, you can actually write there, too,” said Orwoll.

Orwoll credits the JMS program for “changing his life” by inspiring him to consider journalism as a career path. He expresses immense gratitude for the journalism professors who shared their knowledge and provided mentorship.

“I had some wonderful instructors, people who knew the business and that was the most important thing,” said Orwoll.

While at SDSU, Orwoll joined the Daily Aztec. During his time with the DA, he fulfilled various roles including writing, reporting and editing, ultimately becoming a news and copy editor. 

“The things I learned while being an editor and reporter on the Daily Aztec are still with me today. It was a really formative experience in my life,” recalled Orwoll.

Following graduation, Orwoll proceeded to contribute as a writer and reporter for numerous news outlets. However, he is most proud of his work as a travel journalist and editor for Travel + Leisure. Orwoll chose to dive into travel journalism as it is a real “person to person sort of writing” and believed it would be a great fit for him.

Since commencing his career in travel journalism in 1987, he has traveled to over 80 countries and continues to do freelance travel writing today. 

When it comes to his favorite place he’s been to, Orwoll says that “it’s always the most recent one I’ve been to, or the next one. I like to travel to places I’ve never been before.”

For current JMS majors, Orwoll has some advice based on his own experiences.

“Look at the people that you're working with in JMS because they're going to be, if you play it smart, the people who will be there to support you and advise you for the next fifty years.”

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