Hometown: Lexington, Massachusetts
College: Colby College
At Colby College, Mike Bienkowski competed for four years as a member of the cross country and track and field teams, serving as co-captain his senior year.
On the Colby teams, he learned how much he valued being part of a team with a shared goal. Originally from Lexington, Massachusetts, Mike graduated from Colby College in 2010 with a degree in environmental studies. In his free time, Mike continues to train and run competitively, and he enjoys going skiing, kayaking, sailing and cycling every chance he gets. He currently teaches biology and environmental science at Salisbury School, an all-boys boarding school in Connecticut, and serves as a coach with the cross country and sailing teams there as well. Mike truly appreciates the opportunity his job gives him to interact with students outside the classroom and to get to know them more completely.
In 2011, he led Paris to the Sea; in 2012, he led the European Challenge; in 2013 he led the American Challenge; in 2014, he led Pacific Coast; and in 2016, he led Nova Scotia & Acadia. He writes, “My favorite moments on Overland trips tend to fall into two categories. The first are the challenging moments when the group pulls together in some way. My favorite memory from the European Challenge was the final climb up the Collada del Toses—the highest elevation of the trip. The climb was absurdly steep, and there was the urge to take on the challenge individually, but the students made a firm resolution to stick together and reach the summit as a family. Such moments of cohesiveness and shared accomplishment are what make Overland trips so special. The second category are those moments in camp when individual students suddenly reveal some previously untapped talent or otherwise awesome attribute. One student on the European Challenge revealed himself to be maybe the funniest person of all time about a week into the trip, another was a national champion rower, another was a superb and passionate cook. Overland students are so sincere and quirky in their own way, and the group experience they create is just a joy to be a part of.”