Susan McBeth: a guide to reaching dreams

Susan McBeth: a guide to reaching dreams

by Alumni Codices

Inspired as a young girl by books that swept me away to exotic destinations, I often hoped that someday I could actually travel the world about which I had only previously read. This was a bold wish indeed, because I grew up in a working class family where the expectation was that I would graduate from high school and immediately join the work force. So it is no surprise that I did not share my ambition with anyone but, trust me, it never wavered.

So how can a child of humble roots achieve a reality such as this? Well in my case, I have San Diego State University to thank. You see, I did what was expected of me, graduating from high school, getting married, getting a job. In fact, I got a series of jobs, since I married a military man whose orders took him all over the country with me and our children in tow.

During that time, I tucked this dream safely inside my brain, but it was not permanently buried. I picked up one job after the other, with whatever organization would hire a young woman with transient roots and no college degree, but they were not jobs that lead me down the path I so desired. I knew my time had come, however, when our military orders moved us to San Diego, and I learned about the affordable educational opportunities at SDSU, and that a 40-something mother would be welcome amidst a thriving commuter student body.

Unsure of where to start, I chose a business management major, which seemed like the most versatile choice for someone like me who wasn’t quite sure how to manifest my dream into reality. During my last semester before graduation, I took an English Literature course with an inspirational professor, Dr. Clare Colquitt, who convinced me to pursue a master’s degree in literature.

SDSU once again was a valuable resource, because by then, my two children were also attending college, and I didn’t think we could afford three simultaneous college tuitions. Not only was my Comparative Literature Master’s Program affordable, but I was fortunate to have three outstanding advisors, Dr. Colquitt, Dr. Kristen Rebien, and Dr. Don Shojai, to guide me along the way.

I was so proud to become the first college graduate in my family, and it was only then that I dared to vocalize my dream for the first time. I took a job as a bookstore author events coordinator, but it wasn’t long before the travel bug started gnawing at me once again. Through a chance encounter with Frances Mayes, the New York Times bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun, I realized that I could combine my passion for books and travel by bringing literature to life through unique events and travels with authors.

I founded Adventures by the Book in the spring of 2011, and made it my mission to create worldwide opportunities for readers to connect with authors and their books through unique, interesting, and adventurous events and travels. And my first travel, you may ask?  Well of course it was an Adventure Under the Tuscan Sun to meet up with the delightful Frances Mayes, and since that trip, I live my passion every day.

I hope my story inspires others to reach for their dream. Even if you come from humble roots, and no matter what your age, San Diego State University makes it possible, and I for one, will forever be grateful to my alma mater.


Susan McBeth graduated magna cum laude in 2001 with a B.S. in business management and returned to get her masters in comparative literature in 2010. She is now the founder and owner of Adventures by the Book.