While spring semesters are winding down across college campuses nationwide, guest blogger Brett Carroll reminisces on how a postcard caught his attention an ultimately led him to Utah. Brett developed his passion for skiing on the icy hills of Southern New England before migrating to Salt Lake City to attend Westminster College. While he grew up a racer, he has shed that label in favor of powderhound and backcountry enthusiast.
I still vividly remember the first time that I heard about Westminster College and their Winter at Westminster program, a study abroad alternative for students looking to get a good education and also explore their passion for winter sports and the outdoor industry in general.
The brightly colored post card stood out within the deluge of college-related junk mail pouring out of my mailbox. I rescued the card from the flood and immediately had my eyes drawn to the picture of a snowboarder slashing a turn through what appeared to be bottomless powder, with the caption “Around here, we call this a classroom.”
Starry-eyed, with visions of mountains and powder swirling in my head, I dashed to the computer to do a little more research. Clicking through the Westminster College website only enhanced my fantasies, as I scrolled through pictures of a beautiful suburban campus, descriptions of strong and respected academic programs, and overviews of generous scholarship offerings, all accented by the lofty mountain peaks looming close behind the campus. I was sold.
Arriving on campus for first-year orientation I quickly realized that I was among a group of passionate, like-minded people, who had also sought out that elusive combination of strong academics and outdoor opportunities. In fact, I felt like the entire city was one big ski town. (I always enjoy telling people that professional skier Wiley Miller is the first person I met on campus.)
An October storm gave me my first taste of what was to come, as I made the 30-minute drive up to Alta to ski some early-season powder with my new friends. Lapping the first 18 inches of the season whet my palate for what would be the greatest ski season of my life.
With Winter at Westminster, I was a participant in a program that gives students the ability to ski all nine of the ski resorts around campus (7 within 40 minutes, 9 within 90 minutes), go on the Ski Utah Interconnect Tour, take a level 1 avalanche class, rip around on snowmobiles, ski out of a backcountry yurt, and so much more. As the semester wound to a close, I started looking for ways that I could remain involved into the future. I saw that a position with the Westminster Outdoor Recreation Program had opened up, and jumped at the opportunity to give back to the program that had given me so much.
At the beginning of the next winter I was sitting on the other side of the figurative desk, welcoming in a new group of students bubbling over with excitement. I’m sure I was still bubbling over too, but this time as an employee of the program ready to provide these students with a semester full of face shots, massive smiles, and friendships to last a lifetime.
I'm sure that Brett was pretty stoked that Westminster College landed that postcard in his hands a couple of years ago. Safe to say that Brett has adapted to life with Utah powder. Here's his season edit from 2011-12.