Alex Sward of Hurley is a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering at the Jackson County Campus. Next year, he will be part of the Engineering on the Coast program offered at the campus through a partnership with Mississippi State University.
Having the opportunity to work at MGCCC’s Estuarine Education Center has been awesome for me. I love the EEC and the Jackson County Campus. I feel lucky that I have a place like this so close to where I live where I can come and enjoy nature.
An avid climber for many years, Alex recently took a trip with friends to Yosemite National Park to climb El Capitan. At 3,000 feet above the floor of Yosemite Valley, the rock formation is one of the most well known climbs in the nation.
“It was an exciting trip, for sure,” he said. “We didn’t actually climb to the top. We took the trails, which are still very steep to hike. It took us about five hours to make the hike.”
He said that his first experience with the world of higher elevations was a zipline in Gulfport. After that, climbing became a huge part of his life. He travels to Sand Rock and Horse Pens 40 in Alabama, Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas and many other regional spots well known in the climbing community.
Having access to the indoor climbing wall and the ropes course at the EEC is what keeps him going. He’s a student worker at the center and is a certified ropes facilitator. Part of his job is to help visitors by belaying them on climbs, encouraging them and making sure they are being safe. He also takes people on kayak and canoe tours and trains them on how to use the equipment.
“I can’t go on trips to the mountains all the time, so being able to use a facility like the EEC is great,” he said. “Working there gives me something to look forward to each day. I hope all the students and employees at the college recognize what a beautiful place they have that is completely free for their use. I know I love it.”