September 23, 2017

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Third-Year Medical Student Melissa Pavek: Hiking Adventures through Minnesota State Parks

Melissa Pavek, Third-Year Medical Student at ACMC-WillmarBefore starting rotations as a third-year medical student at ACMC in Willmar, Melissa Pavek had already spent some time in the Willmar area.  She and her family had hiked Sibley State Park many years before.

What started out as a family vacation quickly became a family affair for Melissa and her family.  It’s become a lifelong passion.

“When I was about 11 instead of a big family vacation, we traveled around to different state parks in Minnesota.  My sisters and I got bored so we pushed my parents to do something other than sitting around our campsite.  What better to do in a state park than hiking,” Melissa said.

That first trip quickly led to weekly family hiking trips.  It wasn’t long before they joined the Minnesota State Parks Hiking Club. By the time she left for college, Melissa and her family had hiked every state park in Minnesota and the entire Superior Hiking Trail.  Always the adventurer, Melissa’s even hiked a volcano in Nicaragua.        

“I love getting the chance to escape from everything and to connect with the nature surrounding me,” she said.  “There’s something about being outside of the comfort of your home, of your city and just getting to explore the area that I love.”

Melissa Pavek, Third-Year Medical Student at ACMC-Willmar

Melissa Pavek, third-year medical student at ACMC-Willmar, on a hiking trip with her sisters. Melissa is on the right.

As a third-year medical student, Melissa is always on the move, whether studying for boards or making rounds on her third-year rotations.  Hiking often takes a back seat.  So when she gets the opportunity, she takes it although winter’s weather has made it difficult to hit the trails.  That’s why she took up cross-country skiing this year—as way to get outdoors and enjoy the winter landscape. Now that spring is slowly making an appearance, Melissa is looking forward to getting outdoors again to reconnect with nature and the trails she loves so much.

“Up until now, I’ve lived my whole life in the Twin Cities and hiking was my only real way to enjoy the beauty of greater Minnesota,” she said. “My medical rotations in Willmar have allowed me to take in more than just the natural beauty of the area.  It’s given me a connection to so many wonderful people I’ve been lucky enough to work with and to experience what life could be like practicing health care in greater Minnesota.”

As her most recent adventure with her third-year rotations come to a close, Melissa is excited for what lies ahead.  Until then, she’ll continue to explore medicine—and maybe even some local trails—right here in Willmar.