When Alexis Warren ’21 visited Earlham as a prospective student she thought, "Too good to be true."
“I had trouble believing it, so I kept coming back,” she says. She found that the study abroad, academics, field hockey coach and team, and the community on- and off-campus were a such a great fit for her. "I had to say yes."
As a Bonner Scholar, she volunteers with Richmond Parks and Recreation Department, and in her first two semesters she logged nearly twice the number of required hours. As the summer intern, she’s planned the first Farmers Market for Kids to introduce youth to sustainable practices and locally grown food, and she’s helping to start a field hockey team at Richmond High School.
“There’s a lack of field hockey programs, especially in the Midwest,” she says. “From my experience, I see how area girls would really benefit by having another sport.” She has gone so far as to apply for a USA Field Hockey grant to purchase sticks and equipment.
“I’m getting this started now so that I can see it progress through the four years that I’m at Earlham. I want to see one high school junior varsity game before I graduate.”
Service has always been an important part of Warren’s life, but volunteering in Richmond has helped her to grow.
“I’ve learned to work harder, be more creative and learn quicker,” she says. “It’s been exciting to face the challenge of creating something entirely different, and I’ve grown from it. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in a full-time job someday.”
Through her service, Warren has also grown to appreciate Richmond and its people.
“There’s a different breed of people here than I’ve ever worked with before,” she says. “I mean that in a good way. They will hold the door open if you are 30 steps behind. I’ve seen four or five cars stop to help when someone’s car breaks down on the road.
“Richmond people are so kind and accepting. It doesn’t matter what kind of background you come from, everyone here is so accepting. The Richmond community wants to get to know you. The community is looking to fill jobs, and they love having Earlhamites in the community.”
She’s been especially impressed with the willingness of the people of Richmond to simply help.
“There are so many organizations here based around helping people,” she says. “Every community has issues, and instead of Richmond shunning those issues, they’re facing them head on and getting people involved to work to solve the issues.”
Volunteering at the Richmond Farmers Market has inspired Warren to use her Environmental Sustainability and Political Science double major to work to help farmers.
“I want to work in agribusiness to help farmers battle the corporate companies,” she says.
Her love for service increased after Hurricane Sandy.
“We were all displaced,” she says. “The community came together in ways I have never seen. People woke up early to help each other. My family and I had just moved to New York and three months later Sandy hit, yet neighbors still brought blankets and food and provided support. It wasn’t about money or hours. It helped my family tremendously and this is when I knew that I wanted to give back and work to help people for the rest of my life.”
She has carried that same philosophy with her.
“No matter what you do, you can take one of your passions and combine it with serving,” she says. “You can take your passion and help others to love what you love. It’s not about how much or if I’m going to get paid or the number of hours, it’s that I love this so much it’s bursting out of me.”
With this kind of enthusiasm, she knows she must tread with caution.
“If given a choice between homework and service work, I’ll probably choose the service,” she says with a smile.