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### Exploring New Heights: A Student’s Tanzania Study Abroad Journey

Many individuals raise a flag at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to commemorate their ascent to 19,341 feet. However, Jackson Sargent ’24 may hold the distinction of being the first person to proudly display his Saint Michael’s College sweatshirt atop Africa’s highest peak.

This senior from St. Mike’s recently concluded a semester abroad in fall 2023, focusing on wildlife conservation and political ecology. Following four months of academic pursuits in Tanzania, he extended his stay to achieve a personal milestone: conquering Mount Kilimanjaro.

Sargent at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro with his Saint Michael’s Sweatshirt. (Courtesy)

Soloing Kilimanjaro, Sargent adhered to government regulations mandating climbers to be accompanied by a certified guide. His expedition team comprised a guide and four porters who assisted with equipment and camp setup. Throughout the journey, his Saint Michael’s hoodie served as a shared source of comfort, rotating among team members during the climb.

Hailing from a lineage of mountaineers, Sargent’s father, a seasoned mountaineering guide in Vermont and a former army veteran, instilled a passion for climbing in him. At the age of 16, Sargent scaled Cotopaxi in Ecuador, standing at 19,347 feet, alongside his family, including his younger sister, then 13.

“We’ve always been really into pushing the limits in climbing all over the world,” shared Sargent, a native of Cambridge, a rural town in northern Vermont.

Anticipating the Kilimanjaro ascent during his study abroad program, Sargent meticulously prepared for the challenge.


Reflecting on the adventure, he described encountering monkeys and Cape buffalo along the route. The starlit sky above the cloud cover, devoid of light pollution, left an indelible impression on him. Sargent emphasized the unparalleled beauty of the starlit sky, a sight he had never before witnessed.

Ascending over three days and descending on the fourth, Sargent maintained a steady pace, staying hydrated to mitigate altitude-related discomfort. Despite experiencing mild symptoms like breathlessness and fatigue, he underscored the importance of respecting the mountain and learning from seasoned climbers.

Post-summit, Sargent shared a snapshot of himself donning the St. Mike’s sweatshirt with Biology Professor Declan McCabe, who had facilitated the study abroad program. The gesture aimed to surprise McCabe and potentially earn extra credit for his unique accomplishment.


Recalling his time in Tanzania, Sargent reminisced about hunting with the Hadzabe tribe, renowned for their distinct language featuring clicks. Fascinated by their nomadic lifestyle and hunting practices, he expressed a deep appreciation for the bush experience.

Eyeing Alaska’s Denali as his next conquest, the highest peak in North America, Sargent plans to embark on this challenge immediately after his graduation on May 12. Subsequently, he intends to enlist in the army, aspiring to serve as a game warden and state biologist in Vermont, honoring his family’s longstanding military tradition.

Reflecting on his transformative journey in Tanzania and triumphant Kilimanjaro expedition, Sargent encouraged others to pursue their passions wholeheartedly, emphasizing the fulfillment derived from such pursuits.