Climber, cyclist, skier, mountain guide, ski instructor, full-time parent, geography and environmental science instructor Tom Broxson, Pierce College Puyallup division chair of business and social sciences, has done it all.
Since he was in first grade, Broxson has commuted on a bicycle. In the various places he has lived, proximity from his home to his work has always been an important factor. From his current home, Broxson cycles the 14-mile round-trip route to Pierce every day with his three-year-old son in a bike trailer. He described various benefits of doing this, like building relationships with people in the neighborhood as well as the importance of starting the morning with exercise.
Broxson places significant value on acting upon his knowledge. In addition to his daily commute, Broxson wears clothes that are made with the least harm to the environment. He wears brands like Patagonia, where they evaluate raw materials, invest in innovative technologies and rigorously regulate their waste.
“Everything I’m wearing today is actually made completely out of recycled pop bottles,” Broxson said.
Broxson explained that sometimes ignorance can be seen as bliss.
“Once you have the knowledge and education, you want to act,” said Broxson. “We need to build a better world with cities that are a lot less damaging as a whole. It starts by communicating and making people aware.”
Prior to his career as an instructor at Pierce, Broxson has had quite the plethora of fascinating work experience. Broxson spent six years as a climber for the Matterhorn in Disneyland. As a climber for the Matterhorn, Broxson wore real lederhosen from Bavaria and put on climbing shows with complex repelling stunts and tricks for Disneyland attendees. Though he explained his job at Disneyland was very enjoyable and fun, he felt as though he wasn’t making a big enough difference in the world.
“Basically we were paid to play all day,” Broxson said.
Broxson taught at numerous colleges before he came to Pierce, including California State University Fullerton, Oregon State, Willamette and Linn-Benton Community College.
In his journey to Pierce, he explained how one can really end up anywhere.
“People come to Pierce because they really care about education and making a difference,” Broxson said. “The instructors here want to change the world for the better.”
Regarding future plans, next year Broxson will be continuing his ninth year at Pierce with a new title as the dean of natural science for both campuses. In order to continue his daily bicycle commute, Broxson explained that on the days he is at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom he will use the Sounder for part of his commute.
In addition to his roles at Pierce, Broxson will continue to incorporate time for climbing, hiking, skiing and doing the things he loves. He built a climbing rock wall in his garage by constructing two overhanging walls together and personally installing climbing grips and holds.
Broxson has summited Mt. Rainier over a dozen times. Four of those times he completed the entire round trip to the top and back down in less than 24 hours.
“I’ve spent a significant portion of my life sleeping on rock walls,” Broxson said.
When he is on the mountain, he explains that he feels more alive. He elaborated on being alienated in the environment, without walking for days because he was hanging on rock walls.
“Don’t be scared to follow your passions,” Broxson said. “Life is short, follow what you love, then reflect to see if it’s something that can also benefit others. I’ve found that the things that are the most fulfilling are also the most challenging.”
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