Voices of Alumni: Victor Medina

This LEAF alumnus continues to challenge himself and climb to new heights.

Where are they now?

Check in with Victor as he works toward his goal to climb the world's highest peaks.


He has three majors at SUNY Albany. He's a dance instructor and president of the university salsa dance club, an active member of the Student Association Senate - and a globetrotting mountain climber. And if all that wasn't enough, he's also running the 2011 ING New York City Marathon with Team Nature. "Over-achiever" doesn't even begin to describe a kid like Victor Medina.

Support Victor as he trains for the marathon!
"Through the LEAF program, I took my first step beyond the limits that had been set for me."


You have a lot on your plate – all good things – and at the same time, you’ve already accomplished so much. What are you most proud of?


On a personal level, I’m most proud of my summer weight loss of 60 lbs. (April-August) and my summit of Mount Marcy. Both of these are tied to my exposure to the outdoors, which occurred during the LEAF Program. I have also taken up cycling all trips that are less than 15 miles, weather permitting, which is a result of my fitness goals as well as an attempt to reduce my carbon footprint. On a professional level, I was very happy to be elected to the Student Association Senate. I’m also proud of my two consecutive acceptances to the National Hispanic Environmental Council’s (NHEC) Regional (2009) and National (2010) Institutes. My acceptance is, without a doubt, directly tied to my experience gained through the LEAF program. In fact, it was the follow-up program introduced to me by Bridgette Griswold.


What impact has the LEAF program had on you and the choices you’ve made in your life?


In all truth, the LEAF program opened my eyes to the possibility of working in an environmental field, primarily in the area of Environmental Economics/Sustainable Development. LEAF exposed me to a world of new environmental issues that I had not previously conceived of. Through my experiences as an intern, I was able to take an active role in environmental issues as an individual – allowing me to not only walk away with a feeling of accomplishment, but with the knowledge that individuals can leave a lasting impact on the condition of the environment in which we live. Through the LEAF program, I took my first step beyond the limits that had been set for me. But, most of all, I grew as a person. I no longer allow the bar to be set for me. I have learned that only I can set the bar, and I shall always set it higher than the world expects me to set it. I dare to step off the trail – and, instead, make my own!


Speaking of trails, you have some pretty ambitious outdoor goals. Can you tell us about them?


Next year, I plan to participate in the NYC 5-Borough Bike Tour and Climate Ride 2011. I also plan to hike the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu and climb Huayana Picchu. I want to be the first NYC Latino under 25 to complete the 7 Summits Challenge: Kilimanjaro, Denali, Mt. Vinson, Mt. Everest, Mt. Elbrus, Cerro Aconcagua and the Cartenz Pyramid. By September, I hope to have already climbed both Pico Duarte, the tallest peak in the Caribbean, and Mt. Washington, the tallest peak in the Northeast United States.


You’re very ambitious! Looking ahead, what do you hope to do after finishing college?


I plan to earn a Masters of Professional Studies in Natural Resource Management with a focus on Human Impact and continue to work for the National Park Service/Department of the Interior. My ultimate goal after graduation is to complete a successful two-year tour with the Peace Corps and then work for an international conservation organization.


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