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Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 3:45pm

One Saturday in late September, 46 Mercy freshmen and six guides stood 5,344 feet above sea level at the summit of New York’s highest peak, Mount Marcy. Although cloud cover masked the views, no one regretted the trek to the summit. Everyone knew that this hike was about much more than that.

At dinner that night, students reflected on the resilience, adaptability, and conviction required to climb the mountain. The group had entered the trailhead at six o’clock that morning and spent seven hours trekking through rain that became snow as the elevation increased. The terrain was slippery and steep at points. And a few students wanted to give up in exhaustion a few hundred feet from the top. But in the end, every single hiker reached the summit. Professor Charles Garcia—who organized and led the hike for freshmen in the Honors Program at the Mercy College School of Business—recounted, “Students said: it was hard, it was difficult, it was taxing. And then: when’s our next mountain?”

Professor Garcia teaches leadership studies and serves as the director of the undergraduate Honors Program at the School of Business. After a successful career on Wall Street, he joined Mercy’s faculty in 2013. He is also an accomplished mountaineer and has climbed mountains around the world, including Mount Kilimanjaro and the Andes. He sees a parallel between his career and his passion for mountain-climbing: “To climb a mountain, you set a goal, you take one step a time to get to the top, and you can't do it alone. Mountaineering is a metaphor for how we climb our careers. I want my students to bring this metaphor to life on an actual mountain. You can only learn so much in the classroom.”

His method seems to work. Many Honors students in the School of Business class of 2017 cited either Mount Marcy or Mount Washington—the sophomore-year hike—as one of their most memorable moments at Mercy. As they headed out into the world to begin their careers, experiences like these hikes ensured that they appreciated how much resilience, adaptability, and conviction was required to succeed.