Going to New Heights with Syracuse

Meet Cassie Cooper ‘20
Health and Exercise Science
West Monroe, NY
High School:
Altmar-Parish-Williamstown High School
Syracuse University Outdoor Club, Commuter Organization Group

Health and Exercise Science has brought a world of opportunity my way. This past semester, I interned at my former high school helping with indoor and outdoor track and I’ve been able to study in the human performance lab on campus. However, my absolute best experience was spending three weeks trekking to the Base Camp of Mount Everest.

Getting there

The trip started off when my flight to JFK got cancelled. We sped down to NYC and got to the airport with 15 minutes to spare. Our first flight was a 14 hour flight from JFK to Abu Dhabi. We were delayed and missed our connecting flight to Kathmandu. So we stayed overnight in Abu Dhabi, which was fantastic.

Once we arrived to Kathmandu, we met with the Calgary, Swedish, and University of Michigan teams who were joining us and took another flight to Lukla – which has one of the world’s shortest runways. Hold on!

The journey to Base Camp

Our trekking days were long as we went up and down dirt paths. All the locals were incredibly fit and would lug housing materials on their back while wearing flip flops. Meanwhile, we were in hiking boots, using poles, and trying to catch our breath as they sprinted past. At night we stopped at lodges to acclimate. On those rest days, we explored the towns, went shopping, and played cards.

It took us about two weeks to trek up to the Base Camp. I was surprised to see snow on the ground in June! As we passed Gorak Shep to Base Camp, we saw a pack of yaks come through – they’d run into you if you didn’t get out of the way! When we arrived to Base Camp, you could see the Khumbu Icefall and there were tons of prayer flags. We all cheered and took dozens of photos. I went down to the glaciers and stood by one – it was massive. To get down to the glaciers, you’d have to slide through the rocks, but the views were incredible.

Taking a class at 17,000 ft.

Every rest day, we had a lecture. Topics ranged from decrease in oxygen pressure at high altitudes, to the role genetics might play in altitude sickness, to muscle fatigue. We also learned a lot about the culture in Nepal. To be able to see and interact with the culture firsthand was life-changing. With this trip, we experienced firsthand what we were learning. With the oxygen pressure difference, it wasn’t just learning about it but also having to deal with it as you hiked.

What’s next?

I initially thought about being an athletic trainer. But after this trip, I’m thinking more about being a paramedic or first responder for outdoor adventurers.

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Falling for Fall at ‘Cuse

One of the many great things about attending Syracuse University is getting to experience four seasons and the fun activities that a new season brings.  Growing up in Connecticut, I have fond memories of apple picking with my family, carving pumpkins with friends and going to haunted houses every weekend in October. When I was a freshman, I worried I was going to miss out on all my favorite fall activities. However, I quickly discovered that Syracuse University, and Central New York in general, is the perfect place to be for fall fun.

For anyone who loves fall as much as I do, here’s my personal Syracuse autumn bucket list.

1.)  Go apple picking: Apple picking season runs from mid-August to mid-October, so you have plenty of time during first semester to pick your own healthy and delicious snacks. New York is one of the top five apple-producing states, so if you love apples, it’s certainly a great place to be. There are three apple orchards within a 20-minute drive from SU, and the Department of Recreation Services hosts a weekend trip to Abbott’s Farm apple orchards in September. How ‘bout them apples?

2.)  Get lost in a corn maze- There are several farms in Onondaga County that have annual corn mazes in the fall. Get a small group of friends together one weekend to have a great day outdoors. Want to make it more of a challenge? Shut off your phone so you’re not tempted to GPS your way out!

3.)  Take a hike to see the fall foliage – The rolling hills and dense forests of Central New York offer some great hiking destinations. My personal favorite is Tinker Falls in Tully. I’ve hiked the trail in the spring and fall and had A popular hiking destination among Syracuse students is Green Lakes State Park, just a 20-minute drive from campus. Don’t have a car at school? No worries! The Department of Recreation Services offers a day trip to Green Lakes, so be sure to sign up!

4.)  Go to a haunted house- If you’re like me and love a good scare around Halloween, Syracuse has plenty. From haunted houses to hayrides, Central New York has it all. Orange After Dark, a series of late-night programs and events for SU undergrad students, offers a bus trip at the end of October to Fright Nights at the Fair. Students only pay $3! Check out to get information on other haunted attractions.

5.)  Go to a pumpkin patch: Want to pick your own little pumpkin for your dorm room? Visit a local pumpkin patch. You can paint or carve a pumpkin to spruce up your new dorm décor. SU offers shuttles to local pumpkin patches in October. If you have access to a kitchen, try baking pumpkin seeds. It’s a delicious snack!

6.) Experience the Rocky Horror Picture Show: The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a cult classic and cultural phenomenon. When you go to see Rocky Horror around Halloween, don’t expect to just sit and watch- moviegoers are active participants in counter dialogue and scene reenactments, along with a designated reenactment cast. This year, SU drama students will be reenacting a performance at Schine Underground.

7.) Take a Ghost Tour: The Onondaga Historical Association offers guided tours of different locations in the area, focusing on local legends and haunts. This year, Ben Tupper, owner of Tupper Property Management, hosted free guided haunted tours of the university neighborhood the weekend before Halloween. Pretty spooky stuff!

8.)  Sign up for Run of the Dead: I discovered Run on the Dead freshman year when I was researching fun stuff to do around Halloween in ‘Cuse. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, this is the place to find it. Run of the Dead is a 5K obstacle course run that features “zombies” chasing participants through the course. Runners wear flags and dodge zombies while navigating the obstacles (mud pits, tires, monkey bars, etc.). Think Spartan Race meets a haunted trail of terror. This is by far my favorite Halloween activity. This year, a group of friends and I ran as a team and had a blast!

9.) Volunteer: Giving back to the Syracuse community is fun and rewarding, and there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in the fall. I’ve volunteered at the Salvation Army and handed out candy to Boys and Girls Club members who trick or treat at dorms around campus. You can find volunteer opportunities on the Shaw Center website.

10.) Rewatch your favorite Halloween movie with your friends- Okay, so this one isn’t technically a Syracuse event, but this is something my friends and I do every October! This year, we watched Hocus Pocus to de-stress during midterms, armed with plenty of candy and popcorn. There’s no better way to relax during midterm madness!

This list is only a peek at some of the awesome things to do during the fall in Syracuse. Add your own!

Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.

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Six Tips for Staying in Shape in College

When it comes to fitness, the transition from high school to college can be challenging. In high school, everybody got their fair share of exercise between gym class, sports, and club activities. I myself was a three-sport athlete, so working out was planned into my everyday schedule.

As the “Freshman Fifteen” is a fear of many incoming students, here are a few tips from a former freshman on how to avoid it:

1.)  Plan it out: College schedules are a lot different than high school. My first semester freshman year, I was in class from 9 am to 4 pm on Monday and only had two classes on Tuesday. I found it very helpful to have some sort of calendar to help me visually see the windows of time I had to work out. Whether it be on a whiteboard, an agenda, or even your phone, having a calendar will help you know that some days you might be able to get a run in between classes while other days you will have to split up your exercise or wake up early.

2.)  Join a Club Team: There are over 40 club teams at SU, so if you miss playing a sport, club teams are a great way to meet new people and stay in shape. I joined women’s club lacrosse as a freshman, and I’ve met some of my closest friends through the team. If the club is a little too competitive or you want to try something different, get a group together and start an intramural team.

3.)  Use the Facilities: SU has seven gyms conveniently located around campus. There are plenty of machines, exercise rooms, and free weights for the workout regimen of any gym-goer. If you’re bored of the same old gym routine, try swimming laps in the Archbold Pool or shooting hoops on the Women’s Building basketball courts. As of this October, I can proudly say that I have been to every gym on campus!

4.)  Try a Fitness Class: Why not get a credit for working out? My Monday morning yoga class keeps me sane for the rest of the week–and it’s for credit! SU offers single-credit fitness classes, including yoga, kickboxing, boot camp, and much more. If a fitness class doesn’t fit into your schedule, there are plenty of paid classes that students can buy each semester. If you want to try a fitness class but don’t know what you want to do, the Department of Recreation offers a variety of free fitness classes on Mondays and Fridays every semester.

5.)  Enjoy the Weather: For a good chunk of both the fall and spring semesters, there are great outdoor areas around SU to exercise. Instead of doing squats and abs in the gym, find a spot on the quad and enjoy the fresh air while working out. The neighborhoods around campus are great for running. My favorite places to run are the trails on South Campus, which are also nice for mountain bikers.

6.)  Don’t skip out on meals: This was one of my biggest problems freshman year, but now, I always make sure to eat breakfast and snack so that I am fueled throughout the day. It’s tempting to skip breakfast when you have an 8 am class and want those extra 20 minutes of sleep. However, skipping breakfast can negatively affect your day and become a bad habit (as listening to your stomach growl mid-lecture can be very distracting). Breakfast fuels your brain and your body so that you’re on your A-game all day.

Start with these tips, figure out what works best for you, and you’ll be well on your way to maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle freshman year and thereafter.


Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.