When she left Washington Island, off the northern tip of Door County, Marina Swanson knew she was going to be a nursing major at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Little did she know the heights she would reach during her four years as a Blugold.
Swanson, who became a campus ambassador and ran in the Eau Claire Marathon, discovered a new passion during her junior year: rock climbing.
“When I first came to UW-Eau Claire I had no interest whatsoever in rock climbing,” Swanson said. “But last spring break I signed up for a trip through the Environmental Adventure Center. The trip was an exploration of Utah, and part of it was rock climbing.”
Prior to leaving, Swanson said the group met for an initial rock-climbing experience, and she is quick to point out it wasn’t what she called love at first climb.
“I actually really struggled with it,” Swanson remembers. “But when we got out to Utah, it was this beautiful area, huge red canyons, and we were climbing a beautiful slab rock with the Colorado River behind us. It was pretty hard not to fall in love with that.”
Now, despite her packed calendar finishing up her clinical rotations and preparing for May graduation, Swanson has still found time to take part in rock climbing competitions. She says her goal is to combine her love for nursing and climbing by working as a traveling nurse, and taking time to volunteer as a search and rescue medic at national parks in the Western U.S.
Watch the video above to hear more from Marina about how her Blugold experience helped her combine her two passions to fuel her dream for the future.