Wildcat Tracks: Suzanne Weston ’10
Whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and maybe even a snowshoe trek are all in a day’s work for Suzanne Weston! Weston serves as the Program Coordinator for Peak 7 Adventures in Seattle, WA where she lives with her husband, a student at the University of Washington Medical School. Peak 7 is a non-profit organization providing a first-rate outdoor adventure experience that engages youth spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally to help them realize a greater potential. “I started off as a volunteer for Peak 7 leading backpacking trips for underserved youth in the Seattle area,” Weston says. “I fell in love with the mission of the organization and decided that this was where I wanted to be! With a little work and a bit of luck, I got the job as the Seattle program coordinator,” Weston explains. “My day-to-day responsibilities vary depending on the time of year. It’s great because I get the best of both worlds: half my time is spent in the office calling prospective organizations that would benefit from our programs, and I spend the other half rock climbing, whitewater rafting, snowshoeing, and backpacking with the youth. It is so rewarding to see the look on kids’ faces when they finish a rock climbing route, make it through a rough rapid, or get to the end of a long hike. I love what I do, and I am blessed to be a part of a company that puts the mission of serving youth by sharing the beauty of God’s creation at the forefront.”
Weston’s time as a student at Westminster laid the foundation for where she is now.
I realize how lucky I was to go to such an amazing school where my teachers took my education seriously and wanted me to succeed.
“I work with underserved communities, and it has made me so grateful for the education that I received at Westminster. My favorite teacher by far was Ashley Woodall: she was my geography teacher in 7th grade, my softball coach in high school, and a friend throughout. Ms. Woodall was humble in her leadership and truly cared about her students and players. I was extremely lucky to have her as a teacher and coach!” Weston also credits a certain high school opportunity with starting her on the path to where she is now. “One of the most meaningful experiences that I had at Westminster was Summer Seminar. It certainly contributed to my passion for the outdoors and carries into why I do what I do today in the workplace.”
Working with youth who may have never left the city where they live, let alone had an extreme outdoor experience, is both humbling and inspiring. Weston truly enjoys joining the groups on their adventures. “I really enjoy our backpacking trips because we get to spend an extended time with the youth instead of just a few hours. Some of the most transformative experiences happen in these settings. Being in a new and sometimes scary environment without the comforts of home can really bring insecurities and fears to the surface. Our goal as an organization is to encourage the youth to push past their perceived limits and realize their greater potential,” she says. “One story that comes to mind involves a teenager from a psychiatric treatment facility who, after whitewater rafting, said that it was the first time he experienced a high that wasn’t from drugs.”
Weston has the chance every day to make a difference in a child’s life, and she doesn’t take that lightly. “After a snowshoeing trip, a teenage boy said that the trip was the most fun he had ever had in his entire life. This particular kid was a refugee from the Middle East whose family had been shattered by war in his country. I have learned so much from the youth that participate in our programs. Just another day of snowshoeing for me was the best day of this kid’s life. What we take for granted every single day can be such a life-changing experience for someone else.”