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Meet Sydney Jackson-Clockston of Sydney Starr Travel in Greater Denver

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sydney Jackson-Clockston.

Sydney, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
As a kid, my family had this topographic globe in our basement. I remember that I would give it a good spin and stop it with my pointer finger. The location my finger stopped on would be the location I would go on a make believe adventure too. I loved reading books about faraway and magical lands and I loved watching shows like “Where is Carmen Sandiego” and reruns of Indiana Jones.

When I was in high school and given the chance to travel I jumped at the opportunity. I remember that I had a teacher who put together a trip to Italy and Spain. Due to cost, we started off with close to 15 interested kids and by the end, that number dwindled down to two. I myself wouldn’t have been able to go if weren’t for my Grandmother pulling money out of her retirement. My classmate going on the trip also found a large scholarship and out of the kindness of her heart split it with me.

It was such a blessing for me to go on that trip. The one word I would use to describe my time traveling is transformational. For two weeks I was able to discover another culture. We traveled over the Easter Holiday and I was able to see the various ways different regions celebrated. This trip helped me develop self-confidence and independence.

Because of this experience, I grew brave enough to travel to new places and embrace new experiences. I lead an Alternative Spring brake voluntourism/ecotourism trip to Colon, Panama while in college. I lived on Hilton Head Island, SC and worked as a seasonal Activities Director which gave me first-hand experience of beach tourism and a chance to learn about a whole new ecosystem. I lived and worked in Grand Lake Colorado at Grand Lake Lodge working as a seasonal Wedding & Event Coordinator creating memorable experiences for my clients. I have even worked at the historic Georgetown Loop as a seasonal Mine Guide helping to educate tourists on some of Colorado’s history.

Tourism is also ingrained in my educational background. I went to college at Colorado State University and received both my Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism (14’) and Masters in Tourism Management with an emphasis on sustainability(15’).

Has it been a smooth road?
There are many challenges I have had to face in life. One of the biggest challenges has been my learning disability. I have dyslexia and my form of dyslexia affects my ability to spell and write. Before being diagnosed in elementary school my educators assumed I was lazy when it came to spelling and writing, especially because I loved to read and my reading level was always above perficient. My mom tried everything to support me. She would review my spelling with me and she even purchased “Hooked on Phonics”. I remember that I would end up in tears of frustration because I could read I just could not get the spelling of my words correct. I was also embarrassed at school. Some of my teachers would play spelling games for prizes and no matter how hard I tried I could never win.

Finally, around 3rd grade, I had a teacher who spoke with my mom and shared that she thought that I had dyslexia. My mom advocated for me to have testing done right away. Since then I have had to learn how to advocate for myself and compensate for my disability.

Even though I advocate for myself it is difficult having a “hidden” disability. Because my learning disability is hidden it’s a challenge for some people to process and understand. This has been especially true within my professional career. Our society equates spelling, reading, and writing skills to class and intelligence. Because I have spelling errors I have been looked down upon several times and seen as unprofessional. I have even overheard co-workers makings fun of my spelling behind my back. What’s interesting is that if you look at me as an individual I excel in so many other areas. I am a very personable and caring person who is easy to get along with. These character traits have always won my clients over, more so then spelling ever would.

My experience in the “professional” world is one of the biggest reasons I took the leap to start my own business. If other dyslexics like Richard Branson, Whoopi Goldberg, Jamie Oliver and Steven Spielberg can excel and succeed so can I.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
In a world so full of sadness, fear and anger I love creating positive and lasting memories for others. At Sydney Starr Travel I am more than your typical travel agent and event coordinator. My goal is to work with clients as their Adventure and Experience Consultant in sustainability. Sydney Starr Travel is built on a foundation of sustainability, integrity, equity and accessibility. With these principles, I am transparent with my clients and have a strong belief that communication is vital when working together. I can do just about anything with travel but I personally enjoy working with groups on items like Retreats, Destination Weddings, Fait Based Tours, Hobbies, Reunions, etc.

From my experience sustainable travel is usually viewed as a luxury experience. My goal is to make sustainable travel accessible and create sustainable travel experiences all while keeping my clients budget in mind. One simple way that I have started to do this is by automatically charging clients a fee for carbon offsetting (usually $10 per person traveling).

I am also a really big advocate for accessible travel. I am a Certified Accessible Travel Advocate with Special Needs Group. I am among an elite group of Travel Professionals who understand the scope and importance of the accessible travel/special needs market. My goal is to provide individuals with special needs, intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities opportunities to explore the world around them. Being both sustainably conscience and accessible not only sets me apart but makes me very proud of the services I can provide.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I feel like Denver is a great city for a business like mine. As a Denverite I know that folks love to travel, I also know that Coloradans are fairly open to sustainability as well. I think like most cities there is always improvement that can be made on the advocacy for special needs. The greater Denver area is a hotspot right now for solopreneurs/entrepreneurs. I enjoy working from home but if I wanted to I could easily find a coworking workspace.

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