Tyler Lee is on two journeys.
One is the kind you plan for. The other is the kind you can’t.
Lee, a 2013 UNO graduate (BS in Education, emphasis Exercise Science), is chronicling an 80-day trip across Europe on Instagram and taking the UNO Alumni Association’s Show the O campaign to a new level.
The campaign provides alumni with UNO flags to show school pride while traveling. Most people just send in a photo or two. Lee has taken dozens. From the Leaning Tower of Pisa to Stonehenge, the settings are nothing short of stunning. But what’s even more remarkable is the path that has led Lee to this trip and turned him into the Maverick he is today.
“UNO is more than just a school to me.”
- Tyler Lee
Writing from a Rome hostel, Lee explained his relationship with UNO started at an early age. He fondly remembers attending basketball camps on campus while growing up. When he was fighting a brain tumor in eighth grade, UNO student-athletes came to visit him.
“UNO is more than just a school to me,” Lee said. “It’s the place that gave me the opportunity to shape my future.”
When Tyler and his family lost his older brother Trever, they started the Trever Lee Memorial Scholarship for College of Business Administration students interested in studying Investment Science.
It should come as no surprise that UNO is where Lee chose to pursue a degree. But after graduating, the job search proved difficult. Lee had the credentials to reach his dream of becoming a personal trainer, but he believed something else was holding him back: his brain tumor had left him with left facial paralysis. He decided to go through facial reconstruction surgery.
“It involved taking a piece of my own thigh muscle, implanting the muscle into my cheek and reconnecting nerves and blood vessels,” Lee said. This would let him smile.
As he recovered from two separate procedures, Lee talked with a world-traveling friend about going on an adventure of his own.
“Never did I actually expect to go on a big trip, but here I am.”
By the time Lee’s journey is over, he’ll have been in 12 countries.
Two friends he’s traveling with helped him come up with the idea of taking flag photos throughout the trip. His best advice for others planning to “Show the O”: keep your flag accessible. That’s a lesson he learned on his first night in Glasgow, Scotland.
“I was on top of this hill in a crazy graveyard called Necropolis that overlooked a gothic-style church. I scrambled through my day bag looking for the flag. It was freezing.”
Talking with his friends, he realized he needed to keep the flag handy for other scenic locations. And just like that, the idea came together.
A few weeks and more than 40 photos into the journey, Lee says the flag has received fun reactions.
“Most people just look perplexed. Others have commented how cool of an idea it was and a few of the street performers who wanted to pose for a photo with me and the flag have said things like ‘I better not be advertising anything bad,’” Lee said.
The mission ran into a bump in Paris, when security guards at the Eiffel Tower had Lee empty his pockets and took the flag.
“They were looking at it weird and talking in French. I couldn’t explain what it was since we spoke different languages.”
Fortunately, they returned the flag.
With a few weeks left in his trip, Lee is looking forward to taking more photos in incredible locations.
“I want to show my school pride everywhere I go.”
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