BC team at Mt Everest base camp

Boston College students on Mount Everest in 2018.

Four summers ago, Kate Meyer ’20 was among 14 Boston College students who undertook a big—in every sense of the word—challenge: climbing Mount Everest.

“The whole trip took 11 days,” recalled Meyer recently. “Most who do the Everest base camp hike are usually couples or a small group of friends. But we became notorious along the route because we were known as this ginormous group of college kids. The mountains were extremely humbling, and they push you further than you think you can go.”

While the trip was enjoyable, it was about more than just fun. Meyer and her fellow climbers are among 156 Boston College students who, as undergraduates or alumni, have taken on challenges across the world—from Machu Picchu to Morocco—to raise money for charity. According to Choose a Challenge, the non-profit that organizes the trips, students from BC have raised more than $150,000 for organizations like Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mass Bay since 2016.

Returning to Boston College for her senior year in the fall of 2019, Meyer was so energized by her experience that she signed up to be a Choose a Challenge campus leader, organizing a trip to Peru to hike the Salkantay Bay Trail and see Machu Picchu. Meyer and other participating BC students spent much of the 2019-2020 academic year preparing and fundraising for the Be Positive Foundation, which supports cancer patients and their families.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic threw everything to the wayside.

“We were supposed to go just a few days after I graduated,” Meyer recalled. “I was trying to figure out the logistics of graduating, celebrating that, packing up my life at BC, and then getting ready to go straight to the airport. And then graduation got canceled, and my trip got canceled.”

Now, in what she describes as a full-circle moment, Meyer will finally head to Peru next month to finish what she started three years ago.

“What draws you in initially is that flashy ‘Go to Mount Everest’ or ‘Go to Machu Picchu.’ But the best part about Choose a Challenge is that you are doing good across a yearlong commitment. You’re putting in the effort to raise money in anticipation of this trip, so it’s a really great way to be grateful for it as well,” said Meyer, who brought in $5,500 for Big Brothers Big Sisters ahead of her trip to Mount Everest.

“It’s not something that you just book at the last minute and then go and come back. To prepare for it all year long physically, emotionally, and financially—it just makes you feel like you’re doing something a little extra than just for yourself.”

Dan Quille started Choose a Challenge with his college roommate after the two climbed Mount Kilimanjaro together and realized the potential for combining adventure and charity to make a difference. Since then, the organization has raised more than $25 million for charities around the globe. According to him, the Choose a Challenge trips “allow student travelers to stretch themselves with once-in-a-lifetime experiences and to boost the incomes of charities…For visitors, it is a powerful way to engage with cultures around the world.”

Meyer agrees. “Traveling in general is my favorite thing in the world. Getting to go outside your comfort zone and experience other cultures and sit there and learn from what you’re immersing in,” she said. “Doing that while fundraising for another cause? It’s just really amazing.”

Musing on her forthcoming trip to Peru, she added, “It has been a long time coming.”

Lucas Carroll '22 | University Communications | August 2022