From skiing to pre-med
summit daily news
Recent Summit High School graduate Lance Li Puma is up for a challenge. And for him, that means straying from a well-traveled path.
“I come from a long line of professional athletes,” he said. “My grandfather was a boxer, my dad played baseball and my brother was in the NHL.”
Li Puma himself is no slacker. Having been a skier since the age of 2, he started competing in the fifth grade. He made it to the Junior Olympics three times – in eighth, ninth and tenth grade – and was nationally ranked in the top 50. He’s been to Switzerland to train and compete. In the past few years, he competed as a freestyle skier and was sponsored by Vertical Skis. He was on the path to becoming a professional skier.
It was a junior year biology class in the school’s International Baccalaureate program that changed Li Puma’s mind.
“It just showed me I was awfully good at sciences,” he said. “There was a little bit of physiology, so we went through the body systems. That just really made me think about being a doctor.”
Li Puma is attending Colorado State University this fall, where he will study pre-med.
“Being a doctor, I feel like I could do more and help people,” he said. “There’s more personal gain from it.”
Li Puma said a psychology class he took last year at Colorado Mountain College fascinated him and makes him consider pursuing a career as a neurological surgeon, although he’s sure that will change “a half a dozen times in the next decade.”
“Out of my parents, brothers and sister I am the only one that has pursued a college education,” he said.
While Li Puma finished up his academic career at SHS, he kept himself pretty busy. He raced with fellow students on the Summit High ski team and participated in the school’s elite athlete program, which meant he was able to skip two classes every other day to ski. He wanted to find out what it was like to be an actor, so he played the role of a dim-witted robber in the school show, “It’s Great to Be Crazy.”
Li Puma was also one of seven students to participate in the first year of the Keystone Science School’s internship program. There, he was able to connect with kids and broaden his leadership skills.
“This was a busy year for me,” he said.
Before he starts at CSU, Li Puma said he plans on hiking as many fourteeners as he can this summer, in preparation for another lofty life goal: hiking the Seven Summits, the highest peaks of the seven continents.
Li Puma said he’s a little nervous to leave for college, but he’s also excited to see what he can do on his own.
“I’m leaving my family, but they prepared me to not stay at home the rest of my life,” he said.
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