If a day miraculously became two hours longer, it would be a good bet that recent Hope graduate Alexis-Simone Rivers ’16 would not spend the extra 120 minutes sleeping. It would be tempting, but it would not enter her realm of possibilities.
Instead, Rivers would assuredly find one more organization to join, one more event to attend, one more person to befriend. She would kiss those two additional hours of sleep goodnight with glee and traipse off to become a part of something much bigger than herself. Sleep is over-rated, she rationalizes, because making a difference is not.
To better understand the happily hectic life of Rivers, an international studies major with a business emphasis, here is a list of all that she was involved in while a student at Hope:
- President of the Black Student Union
- President of Theta Gamma Phi Sorority
- Member of the Phelps Scholars Program
- Member of the Latino Student Organization
- Advising and Transition Orientation Director
- Program Coordinator and Mentor for the GROW Peer Mentoring Program
- Student Activities Committee (SAC) Core Member
- Project Assistant to the Director of Multicultural Education
- Student Assistant in the Kinesiology Department
Anything missing? Exhausted just reading these roles? Wait, there’s one more thing:
- One of four featured speakers at the Women of Color Celebration this past April
“I don’t sleep a lot,” a persistently smiling Rivers confesses, “but luckily my class schedule has allowed me to be president of two student organizations this year. Besides if it is something I am really passionate about, yes, it may make me tired, but I get more energized, too. I feed off of that and then it even helps when I get back to my room to study.”
This was not the way Rivers, from Indianapolis, Indiana, saw her college career unfolding when she arrived on campus as a self-described shy freshman. Not outgoing then or very social either, she focused solely on becoming admitted into the college’s nursing program with the plan of becoming a nurse practitioner or surgical nurse after graduation. In high school, she had shadowed doctors, took numerous science classes, and even specifically attended weeklong camps and events for students who were going into the medical profession. She felt certain that being a nurse was her calling in life.
Studying hard her first freshman semester and achieving a 3.5 GPA, Rivers took the TEAS test (the entrance exam for nursing) her second semester with confidence. “But about two weeks later, I received a letter that regretted to inform me I was not accepted into the program,” Rivers told the Women of Color Celebration audience. “My world crashed. All the pride I had with my grades vanished. How was I going to tell my family and what would they think? After a few weeks of mourning and lots of ice cream, I decided I would try again. I would not be deterred from my dream. So again, I studied hard and took the exam the fall of my sophomore year. ‘Alexis-Simone Rivers, we regret to inform you…’ were the words I read on the letter. This couldn’t be happening again. How can this be, Lord? I thought this was my calling?”
What do they say about telling God your plans? He laughs. What do they say about life when one door shuts? Another opens. Rivers was about to re-route her life plans through another door she had never intended to look at, let alone even walk through. And she has Argentina to thank for it.
Though thinking of transferring to another school after not getting into the nursing program, Rivers went ahead with her sophomore-year, spring semester, study abroad plans to Buenos Aires at her mother’s strong urging. “She basically told me to suck it up,” laughs Rivers, “and try something new while I was there. She wanted me to take a business and marketing class. And it turned out that I loved them… and she was right.
“Being in Argentina was my best and most challenging semester,” she continues to explain. “I was the only student from Hope there so I had to branch out as well as be by myself. It grounded my faith and challenged me to figure out who I am. For once, I had to stop and be still and present in life. If I had transferred, if I had run away from Hope, I never would have found those lessons…. God shows up in weird ways sometimes.”
Rivers returned with a new sense of purpose and identity. She would not be meld in or back down; the once shy young woman would stand out. And that’s when her list of involvement and accomplishments began to grow, as did her abilities to lead.
Well respected by her peers as well as faculty and staff, “Alexis takes leadership seriously by putting people first,” says Vanessa Greene, director of multicultural education. “Her leadership abilities at her age are absolutely phenomenal.”
Positive and caring (sometimes to a fault and at the expense of the sleep that she does need), Rivers could dwell in the what-ifs (what if I had gotten into the nursing program? What if I had transferred?), but instead she lives now in the rich, opportunistic world of what’s-next. She’s not sure yet, but she’s not worried. By faith, she’s confident that next new door will appear. And when it does, she’ll burst through with God’s guidance.
“I remember thinking one time when I was asked to lead something, I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to. I just want to sit in the background and do work from there,’” she recalls with a wry smile. “But God said, ‘That’s not your position, Alexis. That’s not where you’re supposed to be.’ He tells me to step forward. So I do.”