Larysa Switlyk
Larysa Switlyk (BSAc ’07, MAcc ’07) will star in two outdoors television shows this summer.

Fisher alumna ready to be “unleashed” on NBC Sports Network, Animal Planet

Larysa Switlyk (BSAc ’07, MAcc ’07) was following a successful path that many Fisher graduates before her had travelled. She completed a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Accounting in four years and went on to earn her CPA License. She completed a coveted internship with a Big 4 Accounting firm—Pricewaterhouse Coopers in New York City— and landed a full-time accounting position in her adopted hometown of Sarasota.

Switlyk seemingly had it all. Except there was one problem: She wasn’t fulfilled.

For Switlyk, fulfillment came half a world away. It was on a hunting trip in New Zealand where Switlyk, who grew up afraid of guns and had never fired a rifle, found her calling.

“I didn’t know I had that in me,” Switlyk said. “But I loved it, and I was excited with this newfound passion. I’m sure my parents were thinking, ‘What is wrong with our daughter?’”

Switlyk did what many people with unfulfilled careers are afraid to do: Take an adventure.

That adventure has led Switlyk, 27, to the cusp of fame and celebrity. The Fisher alumna will star in two television programs this summer both highlighting her passion for the outdoors. Her own show, Larysa Unleashed, debuts July 26 on NBC Sports Network. Switlyk is also a contestant on Animal Planet’s Top Hooker, a reality show where contestants’ fishing skills are tested. Top Hooker debuts at 10 p.m. (EST) Sunday.

So how did Switlyk go from crunching numbers to hunting big game all over the world?

Switlyk’s love for the outdoors was nurtured during her time at Fisher. She was an avid fisherwoman during her college years, and performed well in local and state tournaments. Switlyk, born and raised in Albany, New York, also engaged in skeet shooting which she said acted as a stress reliever when her studies got the best of her.

But the moment that changed everything for Switlyk was a backpacking trip to Australia. What was supposed to be a brief vacation turned into a six-month journey that changed her forever.

“I fell in love with it and didn’t want to come home,” Switlyk said. “You always hear about people wanting to go find themselves. It took me going to Australia and New Zealand to find myself, but I did.”

When Switlyk returned home, she decided to combine her passion for the outdoors with her career. She quit her accounting job and became a licensed real estate agent which allowed Switlyk a more flexible work schedule while still funding her venture. Then, she began to learn the intricacies of how to get a television show about the outdoors on the air. She flew to trade shows, networked with television executives and learned how to secure sponsors. Her accounting background played a crucial role in her efforts.

“I love my background,” Switlyk said. “I could understand business so I felt like I could do anything I ever wanted to pursue.  It wasn’t easy. I made my mistakes along the way, and it’s more work than you could ever imagine. But I love what I’m doing.”

What’s impressive about Switlyk’s success is that although she’s a relative newcomer to the television industry, she’s been able to maintain artistic and commercial control over her brand. She started her own production company, Larysa Unleashed LLC, and does much of the editing, field producing and marketing for her show. Since Switlyk—not NBC Sports Network—owns her show, she owns the air time allocated for her show, and is responsible for acquiring commercial sponsorship. Switlyk said networks have offered to buy her show, but she’s resisted. She said that may change in the future. But, for now, Switlyk said maintaining personal brand control while partnering with NBC Sports Network is an ideal fit.

“NBC Sports Network is a great brand,” Switlyk said. “Everybody knows the peacock. It’s really the perfect spot for my show. NBC Sports Network is in 85 million households, and I think it will reach a lot of people who don’t normally hunt or fish to watch my show.”

Larysa Unleashed is essentially two shows in one. Half of the season’s episodes will be devoted to hunting (Larysa Unleashed) while the other half will focus on fishing (Larysa Unleashed Gone Fishin’). The show takes Switlyk to locales all over the United States and the world, including Spain, Argentina and Costa Rica, creating memorable cultural experiences in some of the world’s most beautiful and pristine settings.

Switlyk realizes there is a significant segment of the population that does not approve of hunting, and, therefore, might be turned off by her show. Switlyk said her show does not glorify hunting, but instead emphasizes outdoors education and conservation while encouraging young people to get involved in the outdoors.

“I’m not a trophy hunter,” Switlyk said. “I’m not going to kill something I’m not going to eat. What I don’t eat, I donate to shelters. My goal is to educate the general population about why people hunt and fish. My own family was quick to judge. They didn’t understand why I was bringing home elk meat. They didn’t realize it’s a lot healthier and there are no hormones. They understand it now. I want to help change people’s viewpoints.”

Although Switlyk’s hard work is coming to fruition this summer, she doesn’t plan on slowing down. She said she will continue to produce quality shows, promote a likable and recognizable brand, continue her charity work for children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses and promote her passion for the outdoors to the world. Succeeding in all those ventures should lead to Switlyk to achieving her dream.

Said Switlyk: “I want to be the girl that everybody thinks about when it comes to hunting and fishing.”

Follow Larysa’s adventures, view trailers of her hunting and fishing shows or keep up with her on Facebook and Twitter.