Onwards and Upwards: Why the Himalayas?

Where to begin? When I was in fifth grade, one of our year end projects was to complete a book on our lifetime goals and aspirations. Little did I know when writing that book, how much influence it had on my later education and career aspirations. I had recently watched Gifted Hands, Dr. Ben Carson’s rise to fame, and was enamored by Dr. Carson’s ability to overcome economic, racial, and mental challenges on his journey to becoming a world renowned neurosurgeon.

Even as a fifth grader without much scientific background, watching his successful operation on the separation of conjoined twins was both captivating and inspiring. Thus in that goals book, I had written that I aspire to be a neurosurgeon when I grow up. I will soon be starting my fledgling medical career, but I will have to wait another decade to see if the original goal comes true!

The other lifetime goal that I wrote about was climbing Mount Everest. This was based on a Gordon Korman’s Everest book series that I was reading at the time — I loved to climb in the outdoors and Dominic’s (the main character) story really resonated with my persona. Ever since, I have done my best to get a taste for Mother Nature, including trips to Alaska and Philmont Scout Ranch (New Mexico) in the past few years.

When I started college, I loved hearing stories about other student’s study abroad experience, but never really pictured myself doing so — I was pretty immersed (and happy of course) in my classes, extracurriculars, and research, that I did not think I would have time. Then after meeting with my academic advisor last Spring, I found out that I would need to find additional coursework or programs during my Senior year as I was on track to finish my major requirements earlier than expected. I was perplexed, “Should I volunteer? do an internship? travel? studying abroad? the possibilities were endless!” But at the same time was I willing to give up the comfort of my home and miss out on senior year, I mean you are only a senior in college once? How would I deal with not being able to visit my family? No more research (well that’s not true), Steeler’s games, fish burrito Tuesdays, HOSA, intramural football, hanging out with the squad…

Well it has not been easy but I have realized that I can only grow as person when faced with new challenges in an uncomfortable environment. The Fall Pitt in the Himalayas program was the perfect mix of outdoor activities and self-realization, and I could not pass on this once in a lifetime opportunity that has been at the back of my mind for so long. Here’s to new adventures with new people in a not so new country!