This is the first time in three years I had time to send a holiday card, a fact I correlate directly with going through my doctoral program.
Because I enjoyed it so much, I am happy to continue the tradition with the 2015 version. Ten moments, highlights and announcements that made this year memorable. What would make your top 10?
In no particular order…
10. Dr. Josie Ahlquist
If you didn’t figure it out in the introduction, I successfully defended my dissertation and am figuring out what it means to have a Dr. in front of my name! To learn more about my dissertation, check out this post (here).
I was so touched to have my parents, brother Cody, and sister-in-law Suzi travel for my graduation, as well as be joined by a couple of my closest friends Ashley and Maisha. Lloyd lead the cheer-squad from the stands, without whom I never could have survived my program.
9. Epic Rap Battles World Tour
81 days, 16 countries, 52 shows. From August to November Lloyd hit the road performing to sold out crowds from Minnesota to Spain. From the tour, we even expanded our family of friends from the opening band the Jackpot Golden Boys, DJ Porchlight, merchandise manager Liam and tour manager Ed.
8. Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Josie
One of the joyous experiences this year was becoming an Aunt and Uncle to Satori Rose Ahlquist. This beautiful ball of adorable is just about the most perfect thing ever. We have even got to see her twice this year, and spoiled her like crazy at Christmas.
7. Josie’s Triple Threat: Speaking, Teaching & Writing.
It hasn’t taken me long since graduating to fill my plate with work. I teach for Florida State University in their leadership certificate program, developing a curriculum on Digital Student Leadership. I also taught classes for Azusa Pacific University, Loyola University Chicago, and this spring I will teach a course for New England College.
Because most of these courses are online, I have time to travel for my digital leadership speaking. A few schools that I have spoken to this year include: Texas A&M Kingsville, Cal State Fullerton and Dominican University. I even keynoted a conference called AIMHO. To get a sense of what the heck I talk about – here is a video from a conference keynote, called SA Speaks.
I also added another publication to my CV in a series called New Directions in Student Leadership, having been asked to co-edit and author a manuscript called “Going Digital in Student Leadership.”
6. epicLLOYD originals
Between writing, shooting and editing rap battles, Lloyd tries to release original music – as well as his successful series Dis Raps for Hire. Here is a song/video that he has been working on for years called “Pops over the falls.”
5. The Ahlquist Residence
Because we didn’t have enough going on this year – Lloyd and I purchased a new home! Three bedroom, two bath with a studio (aka man cave) in the back and what I am told is a dream kitchen (someday I will learn to cook). And of course we couldn’t just survive the stress of moving, we needed to live in construction for nearly two months – renovating the master bedroom and bathroom. All that to say – nine months later we are finally settling in – and can’t wait to host guests and gatherings for years to come.
4. Mr. & Mrs. Houdini
Epic Rap Battles have been in production for the last five years. 55 videos. Almost 13 million subscribers. And over 1 billion to views to date. 2015 marked a new milestone – my very first appearance in a video. Abracadabra, I give you Mr. & Mrs. Houdini!
The special coincidence is that Harry Houdini really did use his wife, Bess Houdini as his assistant. A funny thing happens when you appear in a rap battle – you appear on a fan page called ERBH wiki. Here is my page!
3. Where in the World are the Ahlquists?
This year took us all around the world. One of my favorite travel destinations is Hawaii – and I definitely needed it after graduating. Thanks to the ERB tour, Lloyd toured all over the US and Europe. I joined the tour a few times in the US (yes, I survived and actually enjoyed living on the tour bus!) and the last part of the tour where we explored Czech Republic (Prague), Austria (Vienna), Italy (Bologna & Florence), Spain (Madrid & Barcelona) and France (Paris).
2. Going Hollywood
This year Lloyd stepped out of the YouTube scene and onto the movie and TV screen. First was The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water – where Lloyd and Peter both appeared, and wrote the end rap battle song between the dolphin and seagulls. Check out the song below!
Rap Battles also made an appearance on the Late Late Show with James Corbin, performing a popular battle Mozart Vs. Skrillex. To watch the full episode, head to the CBS website (here).
1. Introducing Dakota!
Our family expanded at the very “tail” end of 2015 with the addition of a rescue pup Dakota. She was found in Downey with a broken leg and a broken heart. This year old shepherd mix was rescued by Wags and Walks over six months ago and had been looking for a forever family since.
We fostered her for a few days to see how our dog Parker would play together. It was obvious instantly they would be best friends! Adopted just in time to celebrate her first birthday and experience snowy Christmas in Northern Arizona with my family.
What’s Next in 2016?
Lloyd and I look forward to another exciting new year – minus a house hunt/renovations, completing a dissertation and dog adoption. I will be traveling a number of times for speaking engagements – even so far as Abu Dhabi!I co-authored a chapter in The Handbook of Student Affairs Administration that will be out at the end of January – then another book will be released in the Fall 2016 called Engaging the Digital Generation for which I am an author and co-editor.
Rap Battles heads back into writing February for their fifth season, but also stay tuned for other projects Lloyd is working on including a movie appearance, TV series and more original music.
This year has been beyond amazing. From simple magical moments to significant once-in-a-lifetime events. The most important are those shared with each other, our family and our family of friends.
From our corner of the world to yours,
Josie & Lloyd
Izzy, Parker & Dakota
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