jess jablonski climbing

Jablonski Achieves New Heights

By: Becky Watson
jess jablonski climbing

Saint Michael's Wilderness Program climbing instructor Jessica Jablonski climbs near Bolton, VT

A summer 2014 internship at the Pacific Northwest National 
Laboratory in Richland, WA gave Jessica Jablonski '16 opportunities to climb—in her pursuit of a research career and in scaling mountains.

It was a perfect fit for the organic chemistry student who is also an instructor in Saint Michael's Wilderness Program.

John O'Meara, Saint Michael's physics professor, suggested 
Jablonski look into the Homeland 
Security STEM program. She did, landing the internship that could kick-start her research career and help her achieve her long-term goal of becoming a college professor.

At Pacific Northwest, one of the top U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories, Jablonski researched how chemicals that are released are characterized for appropriate DOE responses.

A certified climbing instructor since her first year at Saint Michael's, Jablonski enjoyed living in high desert for the first time. In Washington, she climbed the basalt columns near the banks of the Columbia River, The Feathers, carved out by Missoula floods at the end of the last ice age.

A rock climber since she was 12, Jablonski says her climbing team coaches were more like mentors, teaching techniques and etiquette. Soon, she was teaching climbing for youth and home-school programs. "I loved being in charge of teaching new kids to climb," she says.

Hailing from Queensbury, NY, Jablonski chose Saint Michael's for its biochemistry program. "It's not a program that a lot of small schools offer," she says. "It's a quaint campus, and I love the campus. The profs are great, and this is where I wanted to go to school."

Widely recognized for its scope and quality, Saint Michael's Wilderness Program drew 665 participants—out of a student body of just under 2,000—during the 2013/2014 academic year.

As a junior, Jablonski is a land program coordinator, organizing trips and keeping her navigation and first aid skills fresh. She'll also work with Program Director Todd Johnstone-Wright, Assistant Director Eben Widlund and instructors-in-training as the instructor training program coordinator.

"I'd like to keep climbing and be an instructor after college," Jablonski says.

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