By Jaimie Crawford
Bold, fearless, intrepid — dare I say crazy — are all words I feel very comfortable using to describe our beloved hometown. Among the many notable people, places and things the valley is known for, its namesake, Mount Washington, is a name one can throw down and anyone throughout the country will know exactly where you are describing. These words pair so well with New England's highest peak because for a summit known for being home to the world's worst weather and holder of one of the highest recorded wind speeds, it is also known for being one of the few places in the world, bold, fearless, intrepid — dare I say crazy —enough to put a full-time, year-round, fully-manned observation station at its top.
Cyrena Briede, director of summit operations for the Mount Washington Observatory, knows just how to handle all that crazy too. With a bachelor of science degree in meteorology from the Metropolitan State College of Denver and a career path that included five and a half years at Mcvehil – Monnet Associates, that allowed her to install and calibrate remote weather stations in Alaska and repair the wind turbines or solar panels that power these stations.
When making the decision to try something new and make her career and life in the Mount Washington Valley, the first time she ever set foot here was for her job interview. The second time was when she moved and took the job as director. It is many people's dream, at least once in their life, to pack up their belongings, get in their car and drive with a whole new life ahead of them. Cyrena has done this three times already, moving from California to Colorado to New Hampshire.
Typically New Hampshire faces losing its young professionals to that "coming of age" dream of packing up their car and moving their life somewhere else. In Cyrena's case, her big adventures led her here. Her sense of adventure is probably just as unique as the career path she chose for herself. Even at the age of 5, being a meteorologist was something she knew she wanted to be. Cyrena was a pilot's daughter and grew up in the Dutch Island, Curacao until her family moved back to the states in her childhood. There were such extreme differences between the weather patterns in Curacao and Colorado and Virginia, where she grew up, that it captured her attention and has kept it ever since.
Being a female meteorologist, Cyrena is breaking ground for not only all people who dream of making a life in the sciences, but for women who want to make a name for themselves in that sector. Although the observatory has been around for ages, the technology segment in the Mount Washington Valley is just starting to come alive. With businesses such as Animetrics and Rapid Insight making their base station at the Tech Village in Conway, they join forces with the observatory to help create careers that hold the stability and longevity that a tourist destination sometimes lacks.
The observatory itself holds many opportunities through internships for those interested in science, but many of its internships are always held by someone who is from out of town. Among Cyrena's responsibilities at the observatory, such as monitoring the observations made at the summit, maintaining relationships with partners, providing hospitality for those booking trips and lodging at the summit, Cyrena finds it important to begin focusing on the young adults the valley has in high schools and let them know the opportunity their hometown holds for them.
Ignoring the looming reports of New Hampshire's "brain drain," there are plenty of reasons to make the valley home. When asked about the biggest challenges facing a young professional in the Mount Washington Valley or reasons she could have been apprehensive about moving here, Cyrena confidently answers, "This is not a city — bottom line. You have to be adaptable and fearless of breaking into the YP circle here. Confidence is key and you have to be adventurous. Don't take anything too seriously, because life is a journey and no one is going to make it great but you."
A big believer in "walking the walk," Cyrena proves her mantra over and over again. She has found the perfect job, in an area she truly loves. She's content with her life and found her contentment on the seventh deadliest mountain in the world. If you truly love what you do, then success will follow effortlessly. Cyrena has been on the job for about four months now and feels as though she hasn't worked a day yet. She's a girl who is bold, fearless and intrepid — but I wouldn't dare say crazy, because she knows what she wants. And part of that includes creating a life in the valley. If you ask me, that is not crazy at all.
Remember to celebrate the 21st in style, and happy holidays to everyone in the valley and beyond. Stay safe on the roads and enjoy your friends and family. Leadership MWV begins Jan. 23 and invites all past graduates for a cocktail reception and Mixology class at Snowvillage Inn from 4 to 6 p.m. Anyone interested in providing feedback or joining Leadership MWV should contact Jaimie at 603-356-5701 ext. 304 or through Facebook.