Attending the University of Mobile was one of the best decisions I ever made. Through the opportunities and experiences I gained as a student, I grew as a person and a leader. I developed skills that have prepared me for my future. The greatest of these, I believe, was the opportunity to travel for two years with the Winter Jam Tour Spectacular. Over 18 years ago, the Grammy-nominated band Newsong had an idea that would revolutionize the Christian music industry forever. They wanted a place to combine multiple bands with a large number of people for one big event in Greenville, SC. Not knowing what to expect, and having never come close to a sell-out for a Christian event in Greenville, they decided to give it a shot.
“The night of the concert, when they finally closed the doors, they had to turn 2,000 people away,” recalls band member Eddie Carswell. “The place was jam-packed – it was an unbelievable night.”
Needless to say, the concert was an absolute success, birthing the start of what we know today as the Winter Jam Tour Spectacular.
Almost two decades later, the concept is still the same. In fact, the concert not only sells out arenas and turns away thousands each year, but does so with record attendances. What once started as a vision one night in Greenville, SC has now become the No. 1 concert tour in the world for three consecutive years, outperforming names such as Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Brad Paisley and Maroon 5 in first quarter ticket sales charts.
As part of UMobile’s goal to become a nationally recognized institution, the university is not only an exclusive tour sponsor but also the official college sponsor of this 58-city tour. UMobile has a presence both on stage and off stage at every arena throughout the tour – and students are now recognizing the name of the University of Mobile and what it stands for all across the country.
For the past two years, I had the privilege to be one of the two representatives on the road to help recruit students to the university. What an incredible experience! For three to four months we were assigned a spot on one of the 10 tour buses that carry 140-plus personnel from city to city.
While it was a lot of hard work, we did manage to have some fun along the way. We handled all of the setup of the UMobile booth; meeting and recruiting students before, during and after the concerts; presentations on stage; and contact with youth pastors across the country. When time allowed, we even had the opportunity to see some of the major city attractions and, in one instance, play a little basketball with Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley.
As I look back on my experience of these last two years, I am blown away at the opportunity I was given. Not only did I get to represent my university on stage in front of 1.1 million people and share why this place is so special, but I was able to do it in a way unlike any other. Getting to be on the road with artists that I have grown up listening to such as Lecrae, TobyMac, Matthew West, Sidewalk Prophets, Newsboys, Tenth Avenue North, Jason Castro, Colton Dixon, Passion, Crowder, Newsong, and many others has been a once-in-alifetime experience. The connections and relationships I formed have lasted way beyond the time we spent on the road together.
As I look back on the last two years, I often tell people I lived a dream. Without a doubt, it all goes back to the opportunities and investment that people made in me here at the University of Mobile, and I am proud to now be working full-time in Campus Life to help other students’ dreams come true.
Every student at the University of Mobile has opportunities for “The night of the concert, when they finally closed the doors, they had to turn 2,000 people away, the place was jam-packed – it was an unbelievable night. “Eddie Carswell experiences in leadership, service, travel, missions, internships and much more. Encourage your friends and family to visit UMobile – and attend a Winter Jam concert near them to see what the University of Mobile has to offer.
The University of Mobile is the official Winter Jam college sponsor for the 2014 West Coast and the 2015 East Coast Tours. For concert dates and locations, visit jamtour.com. To schedule a campus visit at the University of Mobile, go to umobile.edu/visit.
D.J. Giaritelli, originally from Portland, OR, is a recent graduate from the University of Mobile who majored in communication. He is currently a campus life coordinator in the Campus Life office.