One Eye on the Goal


Written by: Ellen Young


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I am a one-eyed cancer survivor from America’s Wild West. I am currently living and thriving in Norway. Working towards my masters in Gender Studies while enjoying all the outdoor activities that Oslo has to offer. I may only have one eye, but that eye is focused on working towards equality, equity, and overcoming the challenges we all face in our daily lives.

As an outdoors enthusiast and disabled person, I am aware of how outdoor recreation often excludes women, people of color, and people with disabilities. I began snowboarding shortly after my family moved to Utah, a Rocky Mountain state—famous for having “The Greatest Snow on Earth.” I was hooked from my very first trip up the mountain! I was only fifteen and had just lost an eye to cancer, but I didn’t let that stop me. Having one eye initially created some difficulties on the slopes, but after more than a decade, I’m still at it riding chairlifts in the birthplace of skiing. 

 I love people, I love talking, and I love connecting; it fit. I came to visit Norway a few times, made lifelong friends and those friends convinced me to apply for grad school.  

I knew I wanted to use my bachelor’s in Gender Studies for more than just knowing the answers to certain politically charged questions at the bar I had been working at or convincing customers that feminism really is good. 

So, I one day I received the  email. “Welcome to UiO.” Uh-oh! I had been accepted into the Gender Studies Master’s program and life was about to get real! 

Moving to Norway 

Coming to Norway was not the fairytale many Norwegians said it would be. After arriving in Oslo, I found an apartment and I found a place to work. That first job was so horrible. I fell into major depression mode and began to question everything; “What did I do to get here?” “Why did I bother coming to Norway?” But I’d overcome challenges before; a cancer diagnosis, losing an eye to the disease, family trauma, and personal heartbreak. I knew I could rise above the challenges inherent to international move and graduate school. 

Opportunities Through Networking 

One day, I was recovering from a strenuous hike over Romsdalseggen. I thought I had earned myself some “screen time.” Scrolling my way to hope I found a mentoring program with the Professional Women’s Network of Norway. Through connections made there, I landed a once in a lifetime opportunity with SHE Community. I now write for SHE Community, creating content; stories, interviews, and articles that are informative, inspiring, and eye-opening (pardon the pun). 

SHE Community strives to close the economic gender gap. For the first time ever, I had an employer who valued not only my education, but my passion. I want women to believe in themselves, to try new things, to explore new places, to go where women “don’t belong” and I want these women to have a community backing them up along the way.  

From Pork Chops to Insight 

So, here I am, in Oslo, writing on my American keyboard, with an eyepatch, a coffee in one hand and a beer in the other. Oh! Have I not mentioned my other passions? A nice cup of coffee and a good pint (preferably Imperial, but hey, I get it). Oslo has a booming market of “fancy” coffee and “craft” beer, how ideal. 

At Insight Magazine, together with SHE Community we will discuss leaders in the business world who are helping create not only diversity, but inclusion, and equality. We will discuss topics that relate to people like you and me: how we can grow, how we can keep moving forward, how we can create good communities. How can an immigrant go from selling pork ribs in Grünerløkka to writing the words you are now reading? •