Alumni Spotlight: Judson “Jud” Spencer ’76 – A Life in International Travel 

Alumni Spotlight: Judson “Jud” Spencer ’76 – A Life in International Travel 

As part of our Alumni Spotlight Series, Gill St. Bernard's recently sat down with Jud Spencer, a GSB Class of 1976 alum, whose professional path has taken him from imagining the world in Pat Gauch’s Creative Writing class to exploring it himself as an International Tour Director. 

How did you land at GSB? When did you start? 

I began my GSB adventure in my junior year, September 1974. With my parents unwavering support, I transferred from public schools to take advantage of GSB’s innovative educational curriculum.   

Do you have a favorite GSB memory?   

Several memories come to mind! Out of all of them, participating in the GSB Theater was the most wonderful. I was invited to act in Bells are Ringing as Doctor Kitchell, Taming of the Shrew as Lucentio, and I Remember Mama as the Father.   

What was your favorite class? 

Two classes tie for favorite: Calculus (college level) and Creative Writing.  

I’ve always had a mind for math and numbers, and Calculus was the perfect math capstone for my high school education. Creative Writing with Pat Gauch launched my life-long journaling effort along with my love for writing. 

How did GSB prepare you for college and the working world? 

GSB’s well-rounded approach to personalized education gave me a superior foundation for life-long learning.  

In everything I pursued in my life–four different careers over 47 years–was always with an eye towards excellence and adventure. From banking in Denver, Colorado, and the oil/gas industry in Utah/Wyoming to the high-tech rising in the executive suite and now my sunset career as a tour director, GSB’s influences are found in each stage along the way. 

Tell us a little about what you do now. 

Eleven years ago, I embarked on a journey (by accident) to become an International Tour Director.   

It is said that one conversation can make a difference … and in this case, it certainly was for me. Over a campfire while camping in a national forest near Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon, my friend, a serial entrepreneur, tossed out a business idea for us to be tour directors to wealthy southern Californians. We would start by getting certified at a prestigious tour director school and then leasing Learjets to take them to Europe. I lost him after Learjet.  

However, with more conversation, I had a moment of clarity about becoming a tour director–that part of his plan made sense for me! Within six months, I went to school, got certified, and began my career.   

I take my guests on vacation all over the world: Alaska, Hawaii, Europe, Central America, and North America, along with journeys to New Zealand, Australia, and South America. As a tour director, in addition to providing tour commentary, I also coordinate with all vendors, provide direction and overall management of the tour, ensure guest safety and enjoyment, and offer general problem solving and support information. I also teach and train new tour directors.   

What would be your advice to current GSB students be?   

“Do what you love, love what you do,” and as the adage goes on to say, “When you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” 

Indeed, for me, my love of tour directing and passionately sharing the world with my guests is a labor of love.   

I believe my four different careers along with GSB’s Italy “Renaissance Art History” class created the perfect culminative experiences for my tour director success. GSB presents opportunities for possibilities. See life as a journey. Embrace the possibilities. Be authentic to yourself. 

What are some hobbies you enjoy? 

I have four main hobbies: reading, writing, hiking, and travel. 


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