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Alumni Profiles

50 Years on the Road: Mark Walker’s Journey from Peace Corps Volunteer to Author 

A old photo of Mark Walker in Crested Butte.

Mark Walker’s journey isn’t like most people’s. As a young man attending Western Colorado University during a time of turmoil and protests, it was easy to be tempted not to stay focused on his studies. Thankfully, Mark majored in History and met two of his most influential professors, Duane Vandenbusche and Abbott Fay. Vandenbusche was demanding and gave him rigorous course work, while Abbott Fay exposed Mark to the greater world and encouraged him to go explore. 

“My experience at Western felt personal and I created ongoing relationships with my professors, which allowed for more success in my life. I attended Western during a very challenging period of time, there were lots of distractions but was still able to focus on completing a degree.”

-Mark Walker

With the influence of his professors and the possibility of being sent to Vietnam, Mark ultimately decided he wanted to travel and help people in need. Immediately after graduating in 1971, he joined the Peace Corps. An avid traveler with a passion for helping people, Mark spent 50 years working with organizations such as CARE International, Food for the Hungry, Make-A-Wish International, and Rotary International where he received the “Service Above Self” award. He was also CEO of Hagar International, where he fought against human trafficking. 

Cover of Mark Walker's book "My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road"

Today, Mark is an accomplished author. His first book, “Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond” was recognized by the Arizona Literary Association and he received a Solas Literary Award for best travel writing. Mark has also written articles for Ragazine, WorldView Magazine, Literary Yard, Scarlet Leaf Review, and the Crested Butte News.  

Mark’s latest publication, “My Saddest Pleasures”, is a reflection on his fifty years of travel and what can go wrong. Inspired by “The Tao of Travel” by Paul Theroux, Mark takes readers on a journey that demonstrates the differences between traveling alone and traveling with family, and highlights that the most memorable moments when traveling are often those moments of miscalculation and disasters. 

“The worst things that can happen in travel is what can make you appreciate other countries and learn about other cultures.”

-Mark Walker

The book is also a commentary on how travel can open one’s mind and change your perspective on global issues. By being exposed to different cultures and by experiencing difficult and sometimes dangerous situations, one is often forced to rely on the resources at hand and to shed the preconceived ideas one arrived with. In the words of Paul Theroux, “travel is the saddest of pleasures, it gave me eyes”.  

Mark now lives in Arizona and is working on his next book called “The Guatemala Reader”. 

Mark Walker is also president of Million Mile Walker. A platform he created to share his works with the public. Here you will find articles, reviews, videos, photos and so much more. Visit www.millionmilewalker.com and get to know Mark a little better. 

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