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Choosing adventure

Choosing adventure

Rosa Malloy-Post (Cellular & Molecular Biology, ’17) re-enrolled at FLC while looking toward life beyond a paralysis diagnosis.

Rosa Malloy-Post (Cellular & Molecular Biology, ’17) came to Durango from New York in 2009 to work as a wilderness guide for Outward Bound and a counselor at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. Three years later, she enrolled at Fort Lewis College to take nursing school prerequisites.

On May 4, 2013, Malloy-Post was climbing in Utah’s Indian Creek, ascending Bridger Jack Mesa, when she fell. Malloy-Post knew immediately something was wrong; she couldn’t feel anything below her belly button. She remained conscious throughout the several-hours-long rescue process and helicopter flight to Grand Junction, Colorado. Surgery repaired the fractured vertebrae, and Malloy-Post spent the next two and a half months recovering in a Denver hospital.

Fort Lewis is a special place to find a high-caliber academic experience. It’s such a gem.

After the initial days of extreme pain, nausea, and confusion, Malloy-Post started looking toward life beyond a paralysis diagnosis. While in the hospital, she observed the daily practices of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Malloy-Post found herself drawn to the work of the doctors who treated her and thought, “I’ve done some hard stuff in the last year; maybe I can do organic chemistry.”

By the fall of 2014, Malloy-Post was ready to return to FLC. She enrolled full-time, intent on earning a Biology degree and meeting medical school requirements.

Rosa Malloy-Post does a wheelie in her wheelchair, with a city skyline and blue sky in the background.

“At Fort Lewis, I had great mentorship,” she said. “There was no situation where I was told I couldn’t do things or that there weren’t opportunities for me to try and participate in certain projects. Everybody in the Biology and Chemistry departments was universally strong, exciting, and helpful; I feel so grateful for that experience.”

Rosa Malloy-Post in a green adaptive ski chair, with poles and ski gear, on a snowy path.
As a former volunteer with the Adaptive Sports Association in Durango, Malloy-Post was determined to relearn how to ski and bike within a year of her paralysis diagnosis. “I knew my life would look very different, but I could still express myself and do everything I wanted to do. Seeing people with disabilities move outside and already be integrated with that community gave me hope.”

Beyond her studies, Malloy-Post gained real-world experience as a medical assistant at Mercy Hospital and Four Corners OB-GYN. She graduated in May of 2017 with a degree in Biology and enrolled at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 2018, confident her FLC education prepared her well.

“Fort Lewis is a choose-your-own-adventure college: you have so much opportunity if you’re motivated, work hard, and genuinely interested in pushing yourself,” Malloy-Post said. “I went to medical school with so many people who went to these big-name research institutions or expensive private colleges and had to hustle harder to get a seat at the table for [undergraduate] research. Fort Lewis is a special place to find a high-caliber academic experience. It’s such a gem.”

Malloy-Post graduated from medical school in 2022 and is finishing up her first year of residency in emergency medicine in Charlotte, North Carolina. She hopes to return west as she pursues her medical career–and her passion for the outdoors.

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