Meghan Finnerty | March 30, 2021
Original Offices: Mike Starke’s Traveling RV
Remote learning allows teaching from anywhere. Mike Starke ’14, a nursing instructor, has successfully done it since 2019.
Mike Starke ’14, a nursing instructor in the RN-to-BSN program and a SUNY Brockport alum, has an original office unlike any other. It travels with him wherever he goes.
Starke has worked from coffee shops in Nashville, TN, to an array of short-term apartments, and he currently teaches from a 30-foot RV parked in Houston, TX.
His setup is simple with a plastic desk and chair, but the views out of his office window are ever changing.
The fully online RN-to-BSN program allows him the flexibility to teach from anywhere as his wife, Amy Starke, picks up new contracts as a travel nurse.
“We love it. We originally thought we would do it one to two years, and now we’re two-and-a-half years in and we don’t have an end goal or end time,” he said.
They started traveling in January 2019 but didn’t buy the RV until May 2020.
When Amy Starke landed a new contract, they first needed to secure short-term, fully furnished housing, “which is really hard to find when you need to be somewhere in a couple weeks,” Starke explained.
And after about a year and a half of Airbnbs, they decided to buy their traveling home.
“We take our home with us, and wherever we end up it feels the same,” he said. “You still feel like you’re home.”
It’s been an adventure. When they aren’t working, they take short trips, including visiting 17 of the national parks. Along the way, they collect stickers and coffee sleeves.
“We’ve been able to see God’s creation in all different manners. We’ve done snorkeling in Florida to the sand dunes in Utah,” Starke said. “We love being able to see how the same country lives so differently,” he added.
For the Starkes, traveling and teaching has given them a different appreciation for their profession. Amy Starke explained that while medical care stays the same, the patients and cultures are very diverse at each stop. For Mike Starke, he sees diversity inside his classes. All of his students, who are all working nurses, demonstrate great variety in skills and experience. “Just being able to see how the nursing profession all works together for the common goal of patient care is something that I really enjoy about my job,” he said.
Describe your office setup.
“A simple four-foot plastic table, a plastic chair, with a secondary monitor. Nothing fancy!”
Your office design aesthetic in one word?
Favorite thing about your office?
“That in an already limited space, (being an RV), it is a separate place from the rest of the living space. Doesn’t feel that I work and live in the same area. Also love the little window next to my desk.”
Best window office view?
“El Centro, CA. Our first assignment with the RV we could see the mountain in Mexico.”
Favorite place you lived and worked remotely from?
“My favorite place (though my wife has her own favorite) has been Nashville, TN. It’s a bustling city, with several unique neighborhoods. It was fun to be able to bring my laptop to different coffee shops all throughout the city to get work done.”
Favorite things about Brockport?
“The small-town vibe that makes a huge impact. Everybody who has gone to Brockport loves it. Very happy to be among the BAWAFAS (Brockport Alumni Who Are Faculty And Staff)!”
How many places have you been in while teaching?
“I was hired to Brockport in the fall of 2018 and began traveling in January 2019. I wanted to be able to have a successful onboarding and have support close as I started my position. We’ve been gone for almost two-and-a-half years now and have had assignments in Stuart, FL, Nashville, TN, Charlotte, NC, Phoenix, AZ, El Centro, CA, Sacramento, CA, and now Houston, TX.”