It was late May, but the morning air was frigid on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I was excited but nervous about what lay ahead of me. Our challenge: hiking from the south rim to the north rim in one day. I had trained hard but knew 24 miles and over 15,000 feet of elevation change would be a test of both physical and mental fortitude. Nonetheless, my father, older brother, and I had looked forward to this challenge and were glad to be experiencing it together.
10 hours and 38 minutes later, we finished. It wasn’t until the ride home that I realized that without us doing this together, it would have been challenging to finish. We each brought something different to the hike, whether it be my brother’s enthusiasm for what lies ahead or my father’s tenacity to finish. These individual attributes encouraged me and enabled our group to complete the grueling hike. In the end, successfully navigating the Grand Canyon rim to rim gave me the ability to face challenges even when they seem daunting. It also gave me the tools to face uncertainty head on and showed me the power of a team.
Fast forward 15 years and I still realize how overcoming challenges to hike the Grand Canyon with my dad and brother provided an immense sense of accomplishment I continue to value today. The Fellowship at El Pomar Foundation, a touchstone in my life, has provided the same opportunity. The hands-on experiences that the Fellowship offers put Fellows in situations that push our limits and skills. Like the Grand Canyon experience, I am not alone in this challenge; I am surrounded by 10 other young professionals going through the same uncertainty and growth. Whether it is Fellows stepping up to help on programmatic assignments or filling in when somebody is sick, someone is always there to lend a helping hand. While my time here at El Pomar has finished, I know that El Pomar will always be a part of who I am. The experiences, skills and friendships that I made here will follow me wherever I go. In the end, the El Pomar team not only gave me the courage to face challenges head on but the skillset to be successful when I do.