Zachary Lee

I work for Crested Butte Mountain Resorts as a zip line guide. The mountain has been a great place to work while attending Western and it has been a great experience. This job embodies what I have learned in the Recreation and Outdoor Education Department within a professional job setting that caters to the local recreation community.

Western is the right choice. Western challenges me academically while offering me a unique learning experience in a great location. I have been fortunate enough to take field-based courses with Mark Gibson, Brooke Moran and Paul Tame in which I have studied in environments featuring frozen lakes, mountain peaks, and deserts.  The opportunity for experiential education is abundant, and I have learned as much about myself as I have about the philosophies of learning.

Western provides an intimate educational setting, and staying involved with campus activities is something that comes natural to me as a student.  I have organized and participated in multiple events such as Playing for Change Day and the First Annual Western State Colorado University Chili Cook-off. I have also been a member of the men’s soccer team and participated in the men’s soccer intramurals program.  Recently I was invited to join Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society.

When I’m not in class, I spend my time exploring the Valley. Every season has something different to offer, from hiking through the Fossil Ridge Wilderness in the spring, to riding mountain bikes at Hartman’s in the summer, to trekking through golden aspens somewhere in Washington Gulch in the autumn, to finally to shredding some pow on Mt. Crested Butte in the winter. Every day is an adventure in the Gunnison Valley.

My favorite thing about Western is the sense of community that I feel both as a student and as a member of the community. Western is a small school with small class sizes. I have built deep connections with the teachers and students that I have attended class with. The town of Gunnison is also very receptive to students and provides an overwhelming sense of hospitality.

As a transfer student from the state of Virginia, I took a gamble on Western. It paid off big time.  I couldn’t be happier attending a small school, with a small population of students, deep in the Rocky Mountains. The education, the location, and the overall amount of happiness I have experienced during my last two years here has proven to me that I made the right decision to load the wagon and head west.