Born in Jamaica and growing up poor, Rohan Freeman had no idea what life had in store for him. Through hard work and determination, he became the first Black American man and the first Jamaican-born climber to reach all Seven Summits in the world.
Freeman immigrated to the U.S. to attend the University of Connecticut and study civil engineering. A college track athlete, what began as ways to stay fit and lead an active lifestyle post-college eventually evolved into an interest in mountain climbing. One of the first hurdles that Freeman had to overcome and control as a climber was asthma. Altitude sickness and shortness of breach is common, even for the most experienced mountain climbers.
He began by conquering Africa’s Kilimanjaro in June 2002. He followed that up with Mount McKinley in 2005; Mount Elbrus and Aconcagua in 2006; and Mount Everest in 2009. He then tackled Vinson Massif in 2011 and Carstensz Pyramid in 2012.
After working for well-known engineering firms, he decided to start his own. He’s a licensed land surveyor, professional engineer, and founder of the Hartford, CT-based engineering firm Freeman Companies in 2009, providing surveying, engineering and environmental sciences services. The company is certified as a Minority Business Enterprise and a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.
Freeman is involved with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hartford and his company mentors other small firms. He serves on boards that include the Connecticut Business & Industry Association and the Outward Bound non-profit.
Freeman also established the Freeman Companies BRIDGE Endowment Engineering Scholarships for minority students interested in civil engineering. He was inducted into the University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Engineers and Hall of Fame.
The trailblazer doesn’t see himself in that light, but his feats are breaking down stereotypes and opening new doors for Jamaican and Black American children. Freeman’s next goal is to run a marathon on each of the seven continents.
Photos – Rohan Freeman Facebook