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As I sat in my college dorm room during my senior year, fueled by the restlessness of impending graduation, I found myself consumed by a whirlwind of internet searches and emails. My passion for the outdoors was undeniable (I was about to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Adventure Education) yet I grappled with the daunting task of choosing a career path within the vast expanse of the outdoor industry. From eco-tourism to conservation efforts to wilderness expeditions, the options seemed endless.

Amidst the chaos of uncertainty, one goal remained crystal clear: I wanted to empower young girls through outdoor adventures, fostering their self-confidence and instilling in them a love for nature. But how to achieve this amidst a sea of possibilities?

It was in this moment of uncertainty that fate intervened, guiding me towards a life-altering opportunity. The day after my college graduation, I embarked on a journey from Vermont to North Carolina, a 900-mile drive fueled by determination and excitement for my new future. The destination? SOAR’s Balsam Base, nestled amidst the tranquil beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

As I navigated the winding gravel road a voice inside my head said “I have got to be lost.” But as a friendly face greeted me under the glow of a headlamp, I knew I had found my place. SOAR represented more than just a job opportunity; it was a community where I could pursue my passion while being valued as an individual.

My journey with SOAR began with a Skype interview with Laura, the former Director of Programs. I felt a connection and knew that this was where I belonged, this was a place I would be respected and empowered. Unlike previous experiences in the outdoor industry, where sexism was all too prevalent, SOAR embraced diversity and challenged me to grow.

Starting as a Field Instructor for North Carolina Expedition, I embarked to lead 18-day journeys. The following summer, I returned as the Florida Keys Activity Specialist and Assistant Course Director, further solidifying my commitment to showing youth the power and beauty of nature.

Taking a brief hiatus to recharge, I returned to SOAR in 2021, this time as part of the administrative team. As I reflect on my journey, I realize that every twist and turn has led me closer, whether I knew it or not, to my goal of inspiring the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts. SOAR provided not only a platform for personal and professional growth but also a supportive community where individuals of all backgrounds are welcomed and valued.