Mia Zutter in her ski team jacket.
Mia Zutter is a recipient of a 2020 Council scholarship. The cross-country runner and former Paralympic Games skier is a senior studying psychology at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. Although classes resumed at the small campus this fall, they went virtual following Thanksgiving break. Mia spoke with Council Writer Lynn from her home in Sun Prairie, where she continues her final fall semester remotely.
Lynn: What lessons has your college education taught you?
Mia: When I first chose to attend The College of St. Scholastica and moved up to Duluth, there were so many unknowns. Now that I’m in my senior year, there is definitely a sense of pride for everything I’ve accomplished – from nearly getting my degree to making the tough decision to stop skiing competitively.
Lynn: What helped you make the decision to step back from competitive skiing?
Mia: It took a lot of thought to make that decision, and having done it, I am in much better place than I was when I was on the team. I have learned how to make really hard decisions without letting stress be the driving factor, which is my tendency. I can handle that a lot better now.
Lynn: What is one key thing you gained from college and how will you apply it as you look toward post college life?
Mia: Although I hate using clichés, I have learned to trust the process. Through all the hard decisions I’ve made through college and the growth that I’ve experienced I have learned that everything will come together in the end. Just because the path is not what I predicted it would be does not mean that things can’t turn out great.
Lynn: What are some things you hope to do in the future?
Mia: After graduating, I would love to continue living in Duluth for a couple of years. I am really happy there and there is so much more to explore. Further into the future, I have always wanted to explore tiny house living and would love to have one someday. I also want to have a dog, although I’m not quite ready yet. I can see myself having a dog in the next five years.
Lynn: Have you gained experience through an internship or work that will be valuable after graduation?
Mia: I work with a nonprofit, where I’ve gotten to meet a lot of good people at the Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (mnipl.org). This group does work with the climate justice movement and, most recently, I’ve done education with people about voting. Now, I’m moving more into educating people about the dangers of the Line 3 oil pipeline project.
Lynn: What have you learned about yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Mia: The biggest thing I’ve learned is to let go of the reins a little bit. Having so many things be unknown has helped me slow down, appreciate things around me and take advantage of simpler living.
I have always loved cooking, for instance, but now it’s my vent of the day and something I really look forward to doing. I have been enjoying my run of the day and look forward to getting out skiing with my dad when we get some snow. And I’ve been creative to be able to see people like my boyfriend by going outside for walks, now that there are not so many obligations I need to show up for.
One thing I really got into during the first part of quarantine was doing yoga to help with stress. Being trapped in my house scared me, and you can only go for so many walks. Yoga helps me take care of my mental health and my body.
Every year, the Council awards up to 10 scholarships of $2,000 each to post-secondary students who are blind or visually impaired. Scholarship applications will open soon. Visit WCBlind.org/scholarship-and-awards to find out more.