Growing up the first-born son of two Haitian immigrants, I learned at an early age my circumstances were not my destiny. I also learned in order to succeed in life I must act in spite of fear. Fear often keeps many of us from reaching to the stars and climbing the highest mountains life puts in our path. When I saw the opportunity to literally and figuratively climb a mountain, I knew exactly what to do. Acting in spite of my fears, I applied to become one of the ten students at Georgia State University to attempt a summit of Washington state’s Mount Baker with President Becker and Touch the Earth Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Carson Tortorige.
On Sunday, March 1, I woke up to an e-mail from Carson extending me an offer to join the team of 10 Georgia State students who would be given an opportunity of a lifetime. Before I got a chance to accept the offer, I began feeling the same way I felt when I received my Georgia State acceptance letter in the mail that promised me if I was willing to work hard and stay focused, I would become the first in my family to earn an undergraduate degree. After being overcome with acute nostalgia, I gathered myself together and happily accepted the offer.
What happened after I accepted the offer can simply be described as hard work. During my time at Georgia State, I’ve learned that part of success is preparation. With approximately three months from our attempt at climbing Mount Baker, we had an initial meeting where we went over what it would take mentally, physically, financially, and emotionally to achieve a successful summit attempt. Icebreakers, a ropes course, and lunch, helped our team create a bond that will help make this an amazing experience for everyone involved.
As a team, many of have never hiked or climbed a mountain before, so we’ve hiked several trails at Sweet Water State Park and Stone Mountain exchanging three Sundays for all day training sessions that will make our summit attempt more enjoyable because we’ll all be physically ready for Mount Baker.
Personally, I feel as though I’ve grown as a person and a leader. I believe leading is not only the ability to lead others, but to know when to be led. Going into this trip, I know I am not the most experienced hiker, at all, so throughout our training sessions I’ve formed my own bonds with each of my fellow classmates; they’ve been willing to teach me something new about hiking, personal fitness, health and life, and I’ve been willing to learn.
That’s the best part about life–you never know what’s waiting for you on the other side of the mountains you climb, but as you climb you learn things about yourself that make each step worth it.