Larysa Switlyk’s family didn’t know what to make of her. The University of Florida graduate (Alpha Phi ‘04) had zipped through bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting in four years, earned her CPA, fulfilled her dream of living and working in New York City by interning there with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Her future in the business world seemed bright.
But then she took some time off and traveled to New Zealand. “I fell in love with hunting,” she says. She loved the lifestyle, and found that though she had never shot a rifle before, she was good at it. Her accounting career seemed to lose some of its luster, and life as a city girl seemed less appealing. “My family and friends thought something was wrong with me,” she recalls, adding that they started to come around after she brought them some elk meat and demonstrated that she was making good use of the animals she hunted.
Switlyk got an accounting job in Sarasota, Fla., but her mind was on hunting and fishing and the outdoors. She traveled to South Africa to explore her passion further and learn more about hunting. “I wanted to see how I could turn my passion for the outdoors into a career,” she says, and from that a new dream was born: Create and star in a television show about hunting. Just as hunting was new for her, Switlyk had no experience in television production. “I wanted to learn it before jumping into it.”
Problem was, it wasn’t easy holding down an accounting job while building a knowledge of both hunting and show business. She needed to travel to trade shows and make connections in the TV business, and she also had faraway places she wanted to go hunting and fishing. “I quit my job as an accountant and got my real-estate license so I could have more freedom to travel and go hunting.”
Switlyk’s determination has made the TV show a reality. Last year, “Larysa Unleashed” aired on the NBC Sports Network and now airs on the Sportsman Channel, taking viewers along as she travels to exotic places to hunt and fish. In less than six years since first shooting a rifle, she’s hunting every week on national television.
Making a career out of hunting may have been an initial motivator for launching her show, but Switlyk has other goals, too. “The whole purpose of the show is to try to explain to the general public why we hunt and fish, and to get kids off video games and get them fishing,” she says. “I’m trying to get more females and children in the outdoors.”
It’s certainly an unusual career for someone who studied accounting and was active in Alpha Kappa Psi. It all fits together, though. “AKPsi helped me develop a lot of business skills,” Switlyk explains. “It taught me how to network—it’s not something you’re born with. It’s kind of a foundation of what I do now.”
By Steve Stackhouse-Kaelble. This article originally appeared in the spring issue of The Diary of Alpha Kappa Psi.