Alexa Ain: Learning to Use Your Voice

Photo by Soleil Nagoda

It’s not just Greek to her! Alexa Ain, a senior, has utilized her time at Penn State not only to make the best experience for herself, but also to make an impact on the campus community as a whole.

Before deciding on a college, Ain didn’t think she’d end up in Happy Valley.

“I came to Penn State knowing nothing about the school. It was a last-minute decision to apply [here] and I happened to get it,” she says.

Before starting a full year on campus, she attended the LEAP program in the summer. Spending time with her group and getting to know Penn State molded her perception of the university, making her excited for what was to come.

Because of her time in the LEAP program, Ain later became a LEAP mentor herself. “I wanted to give someone the same experience I had,” she says. “The LEAP program really shaped what Penn State would be for me.”

Photo by Soleil Nagoda

With some time and effort, it became clear how she would start making her mark on campus and getting more involved. After freshman year, Ain decided to go through sorority recruitment. “I definitely think that rushing as a sophomore helped me,” Ain says. “I had a life beforehand, and I had friends in Greek life, but I didn’t want to forget everything that I had from the previous year.”

Joining a sorority helped Ain to get to know more people than before, and to achieve her goal of meeting someone new each day. She says this goal of hers is “definitely realistic.”

“You kind of have to search for those people, but it’s just kind of working with your own comfort zone and being open to having new experiences,” Ain says. This type of mindset was beneficial for Ain when coming to Penn State — it allowed her to make lifelong connections.

As a member of a sorority, Ain is also a member of the Panhellenic community. She was given the opportunity to run for and obtain the position of the wellness chair of the Panhellenic Council. “I was the first person to be on the executive board for [this] position,” Ain says. “It was empowering to be a part of the conversation with Panhellenic to have the other women involved feel safer and feel as if they have a voice in the community. It was nice having the support of everyone else on the executive board; it was an incredible year!”

The most notable events that Ain was in charge of as the wellness chair for Panhellenic included Wellness Week and the Body Project. “We had around 50 women successfully complete the [Body Project],” Ain states. “I was able to facilitate the program, so being able to listen to women talk about issues that are often controversial was very powerful. Fifty out of 5,000 is an incredible number, and the fact that these women could give me feedback about how powerful it was made it more rewarding.”

The success of the Body Project contributed to the pride that Ain felt from being a part of it. She looks forward to the continuation of events in the future. Ain also had success with Wellness Week, which consisted of several events open to those involved in the Panhellenic and Greek community, as well as those in other organizations.

“The one event that the most people came to was our guest speaker,” Ain says. “She was a representative from Active Minds and talked about anxiety, OCD and eating disorders.”

Other popular events were the fitness classes. “Over 200 girls came out to the fitness classes and we only had 70 slots,” says Ain. “Girls who considered rushing were also encouraged to come out to the events during the week to gauge their interest in wanting to join a sorority.”

Aside from her love and dedication to the betterment of the Panhellenic community, another mission Ain has been passionate about while attending Penn State is her continued effort in eliminating the use of the “M-word” … midget.

“This has been a thing since I’ve been in college,” Ain says. “It always kind of bothered me, so I decided to do something about it.” Ain spoke out about an event from earlier in the year that sparked personal feelings for her. She wanted to make a statement and continue to make strides toward solving this issue that is close to her heart. “

I think that anyone that is close to me fully respected and appreciated what I had to say, and learned something from it,” Ain says. “I’d be naïve to think that it was possible to completely eradicate the word on campus or in the world, but it was unique to have conversations with people about it, while also having my friends stand behind me. It was really powerful.”

Ain wishes she could relive her Penn State experience. “My most memorable experience [here] would have to be my first football game” she says. “We were one of the first groups of people in the stadium, so seeing the team warm up while everyone started to fill the seats was incredible.”

She says that her all-time favorite memory was having the opportunity to speak at State of State. “I was nervous,” she says, “but it was great to speak out in a room of strangers. It was very empowering to me because it was something that I had never done before.”

Ain looks forward to attending the University of Maryland’s law school after graduation. She aims to practice either constitutional or employment law to fight for those whose voices have not been heard.

She says, “I feel as if Penn State has given me the opportunity to share my voice, and I’m very happy about that.”


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