Golden Eagle Travel

Tennessee Tech alumni experience the magic of Africa through Tech-alumna owned safari company 

travelers in Tanzania

A group of Tennessee Tech alumni recently returned from an African safari in Tanzania. The travelers describe the adventure as an experience they will never forget, and one of the best parts was traveling with fellow Tech alumni and a Tech alumna-owned safari company.

Melisa Cansado (`05 world cultures and business and `08 MBA) co-owns Trailblazer Safaris and partners with her alma mater to offer custom-made safaris for Tech alumni.

“For me, it’s an honor to work alongside Tennessee Tech,” Cansado said. “It’s a very reputable institution, and I have such great memories from my time there. I feel like I can give back by helping alumni, faculty, staff and students experience Africa and create amazing memories there.”

Susan Martin (`69 health and physical education) traveled with her son Ross and says it was the adventure of a lifetime.  

“Two things on my lifetime bucket list were to see ‘big animals’ in their natural habitat and go up in a hot air balloon,” Martin said. “I saw the trip in The Alumnus newsletter and thought ‘check, check.’”  

John Burch (`88 mechanical engineering) traveled with his wife Jeanne, and says an African safari was on their bucket list as well.

“Since Jeanne was a child, she has wanted to see the animals of Africa,” he said. “We did not, however, know anyone who had been on a safari, and we were uncomfortable picking a company without some sort of recommendation. We saw the notice for the Tanzania trip in The Alumnus newsletter and thought it was the perfect opportunity. We liked that a Tech alumna owned the company because it gave us a sense of confidence that the trip would be as presented. The trip was wonderful – better than we had imagined. Our safari guide instilled in us complete confidence. He was knowledgeable and congenial. The accommodations ranged from luxurious lodges to rustic tent camps in the Serengeti which still had all the amenities and excellent service. The animals were truly amazing, and our guide was able to get us very close to many of them.”

Cansado says she enjoys speaking with the alumni travelers and watching them bond with one another over shared Tech experiences.

“They tell me about their time at Tech, and it makes me relive all my years there,” Cansado said. “It always puts a smile on my face!”

Originally from Argentina, Cansado came to Tech to play tennis. She says the university gave her the opportunity to play the sport she had loved since she was a child and earn an education at the same time. And Cansado says that education has been invaluable.

“Tech gave me the foundations to run a business more professionally and be more organized,” she said. “I learned about market research, basic accounting, finance, marketing and many more tools that I can apply to my own business. At Tech, I felt the faculty genuinely cared. I wasn’t just another student.”

Tennessee Tech and Trailblazer Safaris will offer additional trips for alumni and friends May 25-31, 2025, and Sept. 7-13, 2025. For more information, visit or contact

“Africa is truly magical,” Cansado said. “We get a lot of feedback from our guests saying that going to Africa changed their lives. It’s hard to explain the essence and beauty of Africa. You really have to experience it for yourself.”

Travelers at Serengeti National Park
Travelers in a hot air balloon
animals in the Serengeti
a lioness in a tree
an elephant in grass
a lion cub in grass

Crawford Alumni Center

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