Sara Gentzler loves the outdoors. Growing up in Nebraska with two older brothers in a house without cable, she credits climbing trees, playing sports and getting beat up by boys as the spark to her passion for nature.
“If there’s a chance to be outside, I’d so much rather do that than do anything inside,” Sara says. “It’s not so much what you are doing, but if I can just find an excuse to be out there, I’ll do it.”
Now, whether running a half marathon, studying abroad for a semester in Ireland, sea kayaking on a weekend trip to Lagos, Portugal or playing ukulele on her porch in Omaha, Nebraska, Sara chooses to surround herself with fresh air, always searching for a new adventure. In fact, last summer, when Sara and her roommate, Gina Gilson, found a homeless woman inside Gina's new car, they didn't run away screaming or give up on their plans to watch the Perseid meteor shower. Instead, they hopped in the car, drove to the nearest gas station and left $20 in the stranger's pocket.
"We got in the car and went over to Iowa anyways," Gina says. "We ended up going too far south on the interstate and sat on a gravel road, singing and watching the shooting stars."
For the past two summers, Sara has combined her adventurous spirit with her love of children while teaching swimming lessons in Nebraska and hiking through the bush of Uganda to produce and film a documentary through Creighton University’s “Backpack Journalism” program. This summer, however, she decided to do the same in a different landscape: New York City.
|Sara (right) while studying abroad in Ireland.|
“Coming here was a different culture shock,” she says. “From where I am in Nebraska, I can be bored and be content, and I could be bored and content in Ireland, but here it’s like there’s always something you can be doing. It’s bizarre to me.”
While in New York, Sara says she’s had to adapt to the rapid pace of the city and the masses of people. And since her background is in video journalism, she’s also had to learn the ins and outs of print journalism. While interning at Parents Magazine, Sara's had the opportunity to pitch and write blogs, even sharing her cousin's emotional story. Above all, though, Sara says she loves the magazine's staff.
“It’s incredible the amount you can do in just one day,” she says. “And I enjoy every single task I’m given. I haven’t had one tedious or boring task.”
Gina, Sara’s best friend at college, isn’t surprised by Sara’s flawless adjustment this summer. In fact, she says her friend does great things simply by feeding her own passions.
“She is fun-loving with an insatiable sense of adventure and an enthusiasm for life that is rare in most people her age,” Gina says. “She is so eager to experience everything about the places she goes and the people she meets.”
In five years, Gina sees her best friend working for a family magazine while living close to nature (so she can feed her adventurous spirit on the weekends). She sees her somewhere like Denver, but Sara isn’t quite ruling New York City out of the picture. She says she loves the flat plains of Nebraska and the mountains of Utah, but she also likes the beaches in New York. On a day trip to Fire Island this summer, she says she found her much-needed escape with nature.
“The first time when we to the beach, it was like ‘ahhh,’ you know?” she says. “It’s even just nice just being able to see nothing, being able to look out into the ocean and see nothing was kind of comforting because everywhere you go here you’ll see people and it’s beautiful, but it can also be exhausting,” she says. “It’s something I’ve actually come to love over the summer.”
Just as Sara has adjusted to cultures and people across the world, immersed herself in new field of journalism and learned to appreciate the obstacles of New York, Sara’s genuine love of life and passions will take her far. One thing’s for sure, Sara will be smiling no matter where she ends up.