• Find Your Summit

This summer, Southwestern University is looking forward to the beginning of a new school year and other fresh starts during the Find Your Summit campaign. From August 1 to August 10, 2021, President Laura Skandera Trombley will be leading SU students, staff, faculty, administrators, and friends in a community event that encourages participants to set goals, make progress, and celebrate their achievements wherever they are, while providing an opportunity to support SU students.

On August 1, Trombley will be challenging herself by embarking on a strenuous 63-mile hike along the picturesque John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s a stretch of the trail that she’s attempted four times before, but injury, snow, and altitude sickness have prematurely ended the trek in her past efforts. The president admits that turning 60 this year and having recently recovered from hip-replacement surgery have made the itinerary a bit more daunting as well. Still, Trombley looks forward to another go at hiking all of the five mountain passes, all of which approach or exceed 12,000 feet above sea level. Modestly describing herself with a laugh as “not the best backpacker,” she has been training assiduously by walking and hiking, engaging in Pilates classes, weight training, and eating a primarily plant-based diet.

“Carrying 30 pounds and walking eight hours a day at altitude requires significant physical preparation,” Trombley explains, “but staying mentally tough is the real challenge when taking on a formidable wilderness hike like this.” She notes that limited oxygen and isolation while traversing difficult terrain that is inhabited by wildlife such as mountain lions and bears have triggered hallucinations and other symptoms of high-altitude psychosis for some climbers. “This is why I always travel in a group,” she adds reassuringly.

Find Your Summit is an inclusive event; although Trombley’s goal will be a literal mountaintop, Southwestern community members can set goals of any kind. Some will choose to train for and run a 5K. Nonphysical activities will abound as well, from completing a class on how to code to putting the finishing touches on a screenplay that’s been on the backburner. For others, the “summit” will be applying for a dream job or reaching out to an old friend. The only limits are that progress toward the goal must be made during the 10-day event. Participants will post updates on social media about their progress and achievements using the hashtag #FindYourSummitSU.

While Find Your Summit challenges the SU community to set goals and celebrate accomplishments, this event is also an opportunity to support Southwestern students. Participants can make gifts to help equip all SU students for the Southwestern journey, contributing to scholarships, emergency aid, or another designation of their choosing. President Trombley will be raising money to support the high impact experiences that are essential to the Southwestern Experience

For more information about how to participate in the Southwestern’s Find Your Summit event, please visit southwestern.edu/summit. All participants will receive a commemorative decal, while those who make a gift of $63 or more (to match the 63-mile length of Trombley’s planned hike) will receive a Find Your Summit SU challenge coin.

Make a Gift to Support SU Students