PLATTSBURGH — After meeting Ryan Lochte and sitting a few rows behind Kate Middleton at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Plattsburgh State senior Emily Higgins was understandably a bit sad to leave London.
“It feels good to be home, but I am missing the bustling city atmosphere,” she said. “It was such an amazing experience.”
Higgins spent a semester abroad, studying at City University in London, and then worked behind the scenes at the Olympic Games.
She recently returned to Plattsburgh State, where she studies global supply-chain management.
Higgins completed an internship with United Parcel Service under the direction of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, learning the logistics of staging the summer’s biggest international sporting event.
It was an unforgettable experience, which Higgins said she owes to her Plattsburgh State academic adviser, Dr. Brian Neureuther, who helped her find the internship and put her in touch with Kelly Wilton at UPS.
“There was never a dull moment,” Higgins said. “There was always something going on and always something to prepare for.”
She was responsible for such tasks as getting bikes to the velodrome and ensuring massive amounts of media equipment were delivered on time.
She worked with UPS as part of Britain’s effort to oversee 26 Olympic sports, 20 Paralympic sports, 14,700 athletes, 21,000 media members and10.8 million ticket-holders — the equivalent of staging 46 world championships simultaneously, according to the Organizing Committee website.
“The three weeks leading up to the Games were the most hectic,” Higgins said. “We answered questions about shipments coming into the Games. You really become familiar with all of the different rules, as far as Customs are concerned, because you are dealing with shipments from around the world.”
She especially enjoyed working in the Athletes Village.
“You could see the athletes walking around in their kits (outfits), but you didn’t really want to bother them because it’s their time to relax. You could see how dedicated and focused they are.”
Higgins helped the world-class athletes move their baggage and equipment all over the 490-acre Olympic Park and other venues.
“You really learn to prioritize,” she said.
But some of her favorite memories were made as a spectator, like at the opening day ceremony.
“The atmosphere was electric. It was really fun and uplifting,” Higgins said. “It really made everything real, and we were just excited to get the Games under way.”
She remembered feeling the same thrill seeing Princess of Wales Kate Middleton seated a few rows in front of her at a handball match.
“As soon as she entered the stadium, there was a buzz,” Higgins said.
Higgins was thrilled to run into athlete Ryan Lochte after work during the second week of the Games.
Celebrating his historic Olympic run, the gold-medal swimmer posed for a picture with a beaming Higgins.
That same evening, she also got to meet Conor Dwyer, another American who brought home the gold in swimming as a member of the 4-by-200-meter freestyle relay team.
“They were both really nice guys,” Higgins said. “(Lochte) seemed relieved he was done competing, and he was just there to relax.”
She also enjoyed assisting with the Paralympic events.
“It was amazing to see how they were overcoming their disadvantages and competing at that level. They were so proud to be there.”
Higgins, who is a Plattsburgh native, said her stay in the U.K. taught her valuable life lessons while making matchless memories.
“Just being able to go to the Olympic Park each day was incredible,” she said. “I pinched myself every day. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime chance.”
Instead of managing Olympic deliveries and assisting athletes, Higgins now keeps busy on campus with her classes, her job at the Angell College Center information desk and sitting on various committees.
She plans to initiate a job search in the near future but has no idea where in the world her Olympic experience will take her.
“Being there definitely helped me immensely with the international aspect of my career, and I will be excited to use what I learned in the real world.”
She would not rule out job offers on foreign or domestic soil, should the opportunities arise.
“I would love to move back to Europe or maybe go to New York City or Boston,” Higgins smiled.
“I am really willing to go anywhere.”
Email Miranda Orso: firstname.lastname@example.org