The Grounded Traveler
Published on 16 September 2014
Story by Greg Katski
Originally published in Script Spring 2014
It was one of the most peaceful, poignant moments of her life. A catamaran she had been sailing on for five days docked on an island. She joined the boat’s crew for a sea kayaking paddle, bobbing through the water and into the sunset. With a glass of wine in one hand, and a paddle in the other, Rebecca Lich ’07 watched the sun’s rays of light streak across the clear blue water and bounce off barrier islands in the distance. A faraway storm dropped blankets of mist, and a break in the clouds welcomed a rainbow.
Lich was on a cruise of the Adriatic Sea along the barrier islands of Croatia and left much of the rest of the trip to happenstance. She had joined a handful of other tourists from around the world, as well as a Croatian captain, on the sea voyage. After her five-day catamaran adventure, she traveled 791 miles from Dubrovnik, Croatia, to Prague, Czech Republic, and set out to explore even further.
Lich, who grew up among the hills of rural Jefferson County, Mo., has an undying, undeniable desire to see the world, learn about different cultures, and create new experiences. As a senior clinical account executive for the WellPoint account at Express Scripts, Lich is driven in her personal and professional life. It is what led her to be named to St. Louis Business Journal’s “30 under 30” list in 2013 for her accomplishments in business and the community.
In fact, it was on the two-week sabbatical in Croatia and Prague when she first learned of the honor. Lich, who had already been to Europe on three separate occasions with family members and friends, decided it was time for a soul-searching solo excursion. “Just one time I wanted to go by myself,” she says. “I think it’s important to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
“I wanted an epic vacation to celebrate my 30th birthday, and I thought island hopping in Croatia would be pretty epic,” Lich says.
And it was this adventurous spirit that led Lich to a hospital in Baltimore and an Indian reservation in Cherokee, N.C., for sixth-year rotations and to a PGY1 residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Lich says her experience in Cherokee was eye-opening. As a student pharmacist, she worked with a number of patients who couldn’t read, write, or speak English. “I literally had to draw a sun and a moon to tell one of my patients when to take her medication,” she explains.
As much as Lich is interested in learning, she is just as interested in teaching others. In her spare time, she volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri and has had a “little sister” for three years. She takes her “sister” to places like the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Saint Louis Zoo on a monthly basis. “I’m just trying to be a positive role model,” she says.
One field trip, in particular, with her “sister” sticks out in her mind. “We went indoor rock climbing, and we were encouraging and challenging each other to climb higher,” she remembers. “Afterward, my sister thanked me for taking her and said, ‘Thank you for believing in me.’ I got a little teary-eyed—even though it was just about rock climbing.”
Lich is enrolled in the professional MBA at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She is an adjunct pharmacy practice faculty member at STLCOP and is a member of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy Alumni Association board of directors. Lich got involved with the College’s Alumni Association while still a student at STLCOP. She served as president of the Student Alumni Association for a year, and now chairs the association’s Young Alumni Committee. She also ran cross country at STLCOP. Lich says the experiences she had in college and the people she met opened her up to new possibilities. “Through college, I became more extroverted and wanted to travel,” she says.
And she’s already planning her next trip. “I’d like to go to Australia and New Zealand,” she says. “But I’ll probably end up in Europe again. I can’t get enough.”