Life lessons from the climbing wall

MIT News

Charlie Andrews-Jubelt loves to climb. A rock climber since childhood, he finds that the sport can profoundly connect people, even those who may not seem to have much in common.

“On a fundamental level, we are trying for something very basic and human, which is to ascend a rock,” the MIT senior says. 

At its heart, climbing is also about looking out for our fellow humans.

“You save each other’s lives every time you catch your partner on the other end of a rope, and you go through this highly personal experience with them. When you step up to a climb that you are not sure that you can do, you may fail in front of them or succeed with their encouragement,” he says.

For Andrews-Jubelt, this “we’re in this together” mindset extends well beyond the climbing wall. During his time at MIT, the mathematics with computer science major has taken on multiple leadership roles to help empower his peers and foster a supportive community on campus.

Motivated by empathy

When Andrews-Jubelt first came to MIT, he had an injury that made it impossible for him to climb. He remembers feeling frustrated and confined, like someone who used to walk and was being asked to crawl again.

In retrospect, he says, this experience pushed him to become involved in activities he never would have had time for had he been training and competing as a climber. He started volunteering with Violence Prevention and Response (VPR) in MIT’s Division of Student Life, and the group Students Advocating for Education and Respectful Relationships (SAFER). He also became the CEO of Lean on Me, a text-based, anonymous, suicide-prevention peer-support network.

SAFER was an entirely student-run group that ran workshops on preventing sexual assault, and it has now been incorporated into …

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