Alexis Lewis, a dual English and French major at Wright State University who also doubles as the editor-in-chief of the Wright State Guardian, arrives on campus most days at 8 a.m. and doesn’t find herself leaving until 8 p.m. or later.
Moreover, she is completing her honors thesis project to coincide with her spring 2024 graduation while also working on writing and editing projects for the Wright State Boonshoft School of Medicine.
A native of the hamlet of Christiansburg in Champaign County, Lewis graduated from Graham High School in 2020 as class valedictorian. Listening to her brother’s glowing reviews and after receiving a full academic scholarship, Lewis followed in her sibling’s footsteps and enrolled at Wright State that fall.
She moved to an off-campus apartment and because she arrived at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and took online classes, she initially found college life to be somewhat muted. Lewis wondered aloud whether she would have “the college experience” since she did not live or attend classes on campus. Those reservations quickly subsided as she made new friends and dove into her classes and activities and the eventual return of students to campus.
As a first-year student, Lewis was unsure what she wanted to major in when she enrolled at Wright State. After taking a cross-section of classes, she chose English with an emphasis on technical and professional writing because of her love of STEM and language.
“I’ve always loved reading and writing,” said Lewis. “I love language itself. You can see the power in words. The combination of professional and technical writing allows me to write about what interests me while not necessarily being a subject matter expert.”
She admits to stumbling onto French after watching an online video featuring Kirsten Halling, Ph.D., professor of French, giving a presentation and was immediately hooked.
“Kirsten was very passionate in her presentation and made me fall in love with France without knowing anything about it yet,” said Lewis.
Lewis’ interests were further piqued after participating in a three-week faculty-led Ambassador Program to study abroad in France. The group taught English to students in Nice the first week and then spent the following two weeks in Paris imbibing the culture.
“It was the best experience I ever had,” Lewis said. “The fact that I was able to immerse myself in another culture was just awesome.”
Halling, who led the European trip, said Lewis drank in the art, history and cuisine of France with unmitigated enthusiasm that motivated others in the study abroad cohort to do the same.
“Alexis is one of those special people who manages to be everything a student should strive to be,” said Halling. “A first-generation college student, she navigates her way through her studies with the inquisitiveness and thoroughness of a professional journalist, leaving no stone unturned.”
Mapping out the courses and timeline with advisors, Lewis realized changing her French minor to a major midway through her junior year was eminently doable and would prove to be a worthwhile addition to her English major.
As if she were not busy enough, she decided to combine the passion for sports she cultivated from her father and brother with her love of writing and apply for a sportswriter position with the Wright State Guardian.
Unfortunately, there were no open positions in the sports department, so she put her quest to be the next Emily Kaplan on hold. Instead, Lewis was offered the job of managing editor.
She was promoted to editor-in-chief this year and now leads the Guardian, which has been published regularly since 1965.
As a fully digital publication, the Wright State Guardian publishes new content daily, including photo galleries, videos, stories and news items. Lewis and her team also publish the Nexus Literary Journal and Flight Magazine.
A typical day for Lewis consists of managing a team of 10 to 11 writers, conducting research, writing, editing, gathering sources, determining the scope of stories and curating ideas for engagement.
“As editor-in-chief, I want to be there for the team,” she said. “I feel as though I lead holistically.”
Citing staff growth as an example, she said participation and interest in the paper have expanded, adding that the Guardian is an instrument for student instruction and an extension of the overall educational experience.
“We don’t run this like The New York Times,” she said. “We’re welcoming and empathetic. You can make mistakes. It’s a learning process. We want for this to be like a second classroom.”
Debbie Lamp, associate director of student involvement and leadership and advisor to the Guardian, said Lewis is not only an excellent student, but she is also an excellent editor-in-chief.
“The staff really respects her, and they are trying to do a lot of different things this year,” said Lamp. “Every editor adds something different to the Guardian and Alexis is no exception. I’m just sad that she’s graduating.”
Lewis said the Guardian holds the same relevancy today as it has since its inception nearly six decades ago.
“Our audience is the students,” said Lewis. “The fact that we’re student-run and student-led … we’re always relevant. We tailor our publication to be informative to the entire Wright State community, especially the students. We want to be more active in the community and focus on future growth.”
As for her future endeavors after graduating, Lewis said that is yet to be determined. She knows she does not want to be a journalist or teach in the United States but hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to France to teach English.
“I just want to be able to serve the public in different ways and achieve a perfect work/life balance,” she said.