My quest to shine a light on IU South Bend’s best and brightest has brought me to senior Lexi Millard this week. I met her in the charismatic gender studies lounge of Wiekamp Hall. Within the lounge, you will see a hollowed out television, filled with Barbies as well as several other dolls lined up and creatively costumed to emulate feminist issues. The room itself so uniquely parallels Millard’s fascinating personality.
Where is your Hometown?
Goshen. I’ve lived in Goshen basically my whole life, home-schooled.
What is your major and how did you land on that choice?
I’m an English major with a gender studies minor. I was originally a computer technology major at Ivy Tech, graduated and I hated it. I hated my job. So I was pushed to come back by one of my friends that goes here. Originally, I came in as a creative writing major and was going to try to write comic books. But before I got here, the professor that offered the comic book course decided to never offer the class again so that kind of screwed up some of my plans. I ended up taking some literary courses and just kind of fell in love with it. Turned out, I was naturally good at it. It was something I fit in with quickly. For a while I was thinking I would still do a computer science minor so I could still market myself, but then I decided to screw that and just go with a gender studies minor. I decided to focus on personal growth skills versus practical skills, because really a degree doesn’t necessarily give you a job in your field, anyway. Why not focus on something I love and I’m interested in rather than following the flow and becoming a business major or whatever because supposedly that will pay the bills?
How do you stand out around campus?
I’ve been fortunate enough to be made aware by my professors of academic opportunities around campus. There’s the undergraduate research journal, conferences at other universities and grants you can get to write papers over the summer,
which I’ve done twice now. There are research prizes that give you money. Basically, what makes me different is that I’ve taken back as much money as I’ve spent going to school here by getting grants and research prizes and such. There are opportunities to make college pay you back a little bit which is nice.
Do you have any plans on the horizon, post-college?
Yeah, graduate school. I’m hoping to get my PhD in literature and really be a pretentious bastard, even more so than I already am. I try to stay down-to-earth, but I can’t! Looking at a lot of places. The big ones are Rutgers, UCLA, University of Michigan and Bloomington.
How do you want to leave your mark on IUSB?
School is about more than just practical skills. Most people are going to college because you’re taught that’s how you get a job. To me, college has been much more about finding something I’m passionate about, finding something that makes me basically a better me – makes me a better person in the community. I did the practical skills thing, I did the computer technology. I got a job that paid 40-hours-a-week and it was terrible – one of the worst experiences of my life, actually. I think that, yes, I’m paying however much in order to do this self-discovery thing, but it’s way more worth it in the long run than getting a job that I hate and will probably quit eventually. Trying to think of school as something more than an investment in a career, but an investment in self.
What is your favorite thing about IUSB?
Oh, easily my favorite thing is the freakin’ people here! Professors, students, staff. The food service people are amazing. Everyone here — at least those that I’ve interacted with — is good people, accepting people and brilliant people. There are tons and tons of smart people that are really great to know.
Well, my reflex is to say parking. The parking is the worst thing in the universe.
So tell me, what are you reading, watching, listening to right now?
So I don’t actually read a lot for pleasure, even though I’m an English major. I read a lot for school, so I’ve wandered away from that. I look forward to doing that in the downtime between undergrad and graduate school. As far as watching and listening to, I’ve gotten way into riot girl music from early ’90s. Heavens to Betsy, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney and that was kind of sparked because I’m a huge video gamer. I don’t remember my final count, but I beat like 30 games over the summer. That’s all I did outside of my summer research. There’s a game called “Gone Home” that has riot girl music all the way through it and it’s wonderful. Also, I finally started catching up with Adventure Time on Cartoon Network. Basically it’s episodic, but somehow they’re still able to tell a long story arch and it’s crazy and I love it. You don’t expect it from a kids’ cartoon. It’s wicked smart. It’s got feminist issues, LGBT issues in it and handles them really well.
What is your advice to other students, particularly new students?
Don’t go into college with a plan! You’re supposed to decide your entire future when you’re like what, 18 or 19? When you’re 18 or 19, you don’t have a clue what you’re doing with life. I still don’t have a clue and I’m 23! People think they have to pick a career, they have to pick basically their whole life as they’re coming into college when, yeah, that question should be on your mind, but you need to be open to that changing. Be willing to explore what opportunities the school gives you. You never know what’s going to spark your interest. Approach general education classes in a positive manner, knowing that this could be something that changes your life and life path and just go with it. Also, professors are a resource not to be afraid of. Professors are there to help you – bother them once a week. They’re paid to help you. Don’t annoy them, but using them as a resource is incredibly important.