Molloy College MBA Alumna Reaches New Heights
Joanna Sadowska,'15, a graduate of Molloy's Business Division, shares with us some insights on how she undertook and succeeded in climbing and reaching base camp of Mount Everest.
What did you do to prepare for this undertaking?
I have always been physically active, but before my trip I focused much more on cardio exercise. There really is not much you can do to prepare for high altitudes while living at sea level. It is true that fit a person will handle the hike up the mountain better than a couch potato. It's like climbing the stairs... a healthy and fit person can go up without losing their breath and having sore muscles the next day. One month before my Himalaya trip, I went to Colorado to hike in the higher elevation. I have been at high altitudes before, but I have never hiked there or stayed there for more than a day or two. I wanted to see how my body will respond to that. I did not handle that well. I overestimated my readiness and picked a far too difficult trail. I did not adjust to altitude properly and basically wanted to do too much too soon. After the experience in Colorado I got a little nervous and wondered "what if I can't do it?"...but it was a great lesson and motivated me to work harder.
What motivated you to try this?
I have always been an adventurous type of person. I love trying new things. I am passionate about traveling, near and far. Even though I love being pampered at the beach resorts, the idea of getting out of my comfort zone and constantly exploring has always been exciting to me. I think placing yourself in extreme situations is the best way to get to know yourself and others.
Did the knowledge and skills you gained while earning your MBA contribute to your success in this endeavor?
Yes, but not directly. The CAPSTONE seminar would be one of many examples here...our group was comprised of different personalities with different work ethics and different ideas and perspectives. The lack of proper communication between group members caused a complete failure on one part of our CAPSTONE project. We had no other choice than to learn from our mistakes. We learned that 'more sometimes means less'. We had to work harder to overcome our obstacles and to ultimately achieve success. Moreover, public speaking and presentations were always challenging for me.
With great guidance from Prof. Maureen Mackenzie, and with the support of my teammates, I learned to speak at the advanced level. Our team was even invited to speak at the Northeast Business & Economic Association conference and presented to a major non-profit organization on Long Island. I have learned that any goal can be achieved, if I only focus, prepare and rehearse even the easiest parts of what I am doing.
My Colorado trip was my rehearsal for the trip to the Himalayas. I did not want to go there at first, I wanted to save time and money. But I am glad I did. It was a great lesson that stimulated me to work harder and achieve success in the long run.
How has this experience impacted your life?
It was definitely a two-part lesson about being humble. First, I always considered myself a fit person, determined and motivated, who could push myself to the limit thinking "no pain, no gain". Out there in Himalayas it mattered less...being arrogant, impatient and overestimating ones capabilities can have serious consequences, even death. Sometimes no matter how well I felt, I just simply had to patiently wait to acclimatize and make sure altitude sickness symptoms did not appear so I could continue my way up. It is not a race, just one step at a time. Secondly, it was amazing to meet local people so poor, but in the same time so proud and rich in kindness. I have met many other trekkers from all over the world...and in higher mountains everyone was equal. There are no 5-star hotels and even the wealthiest people may need to sleep in a sleeping bag on a wooden floor in a dining area because more desirable areas were already occupied by trekkers who got there before them. This is part of the adventure. The altitude sickness symptoms "hit" EVERYONE sooner or later. There is very little we can do about that, but what we can do is control our attitude regardless of how we feel. Out there people just needed to look after each other. It seemed to be so simple and yet so hard at the same time to understand that who we are, what we have or where we come from has nothing to do with being just kind to one another.