STEP was not what I expected. To be honest I signed up for STEP because I was under the assumption that it meant “Second Year Transfer Project” and that it was focused on transfer students. I expected it to feel more like a club, where attendance was optional but everyone wanted to be present. Since I was transferring to main campus I figured this would be a great way to meet new people. It was soon after that I got an email telling me how by joining this group I had the opportunity to earn $2000 (I had no idea how, but it got my attention). A while later I received another email telling me that I could also earn a free IPad, and while my STEP grant was then demoted to $1500, I managed to get a free IPad! When we finally met our cohort at the beginning of the year, I was surprised to find out how dedicated our professors were to helping us better ourselves. As the year went on we got to learn about each other and what each person was hoping to do with their STEP money. I initially had no idea what to do with my STEP grant, Study-Abroad would be enlightening, however $1500 wouldn’t take me very far for very long. I then looked at Internships but heard that if I were to accept a paid internship, I wouldn’t qualify for the STEP grant and in my major of Construction Systems Management, unpaid internships are almost non-existent. After panicking for a few months I met one-on-one with my STEP advisor, Amy Barnes, who convinced me to look into the Leadership aspect of STEP. After carefully looking into Leadership, I began to have my heart set on a 28 day backpacking expedition trough California. While I had never been backpacking before in my life, I was ready to challenge myself. The trip took place this past June-July. The trip in its entirety was an indescribable experience valued well over $2000. Out in the wilderness among the mountains, you discover who you truly are and where you want to go. I never thought I would be traveling farther than I ever have been from my home to traverse over 134 miles and climbing Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, all while carrying 40 pounds of gear and making friendships that will certainly last a lifetime. I wasn’t always thrilled to wake up and go to my STEP meetings every Monday morning, but I’m thankful that I was given this opportunity to challenge and make myself a better person. Had I not taken this challenge, I would have not discovered my overwhelming love and appreciation for the outdoors.