Alexandra Meyer, '19

Alexandra Meyer sits at a table under the pergola

Senior Alexandra Meyer had always planned to go to college, even though no one else in her family had previously attended. She wanted to be a sign language interpreter, but when a medical diagnosis changed her path, she was forced to choose a new track.

“I wanted to be a sign language interpreter for a really long time, and I speak sign language, so I’ve had this dream since fifth grade,” Meyer said. “I had always known that I had some kind of hearing problem, but we never had the money to go to an audiologist to try to fix it. In the middle of my senior year, we went to an audiologist and they told me I have something called auditory processing disorder, so it can’t be fixed and legally I can’t interpret.”

After learning this life-changing news, Meyer changed her career path to clinical lab science.

“I’ve always cared so deeply about people that I want to make a difference in some way or another. That was kind of where both the interpreting and medical lab science came from. Those are ways that I can help people in seemingly minor ways, but they’re really important,” Meyer said.

She began to focus her college search on schools that had the clinical lab science field of study which brought her first to the University of Kansas.

“KU came up because they have an amazing program,” Meyer said. “Then I got an email from Rockhurst, which I had never heard of despite living here my entire life, inviting me to apply. They mentioned their medical programs and so I checked to see if they had it and they did.”

Although Rockhurst was an option for Meyer, she continued to apply and was accepted into other colleges. She had almost ruled out Rockhurst.

“I got invited to Competitive Scholars Day, and I came here and I was like, ‘OK, well the school’s so expensive I can’t afford to come here. I’m only going to come here if I get this scholarship,’” Meyer said.

Meyer did not receive the scholarship, but was compelled by how comfortable she felt when on campus.

“Coming here that day, I realized how great of an environment it was. Getting to meet all the teachers and the students, it was just so welcoming and happy. Everybody was happy. That really, really sealed it for me. Then, no other school was even an option,” Meyer said.

Choosing Rockhurst did not come easy for her and her family. Many family members were not in support of her going to a college that was so expensive.

“My mom was always supportive. She knew I was amazing. She was going to support any decision I made,” Meyer said. “When I officially decided to come here, it was a huge problem. I think that’s part of the whole first-generation thing is they (my grandparents) were afraid of me going into debt. Even my brothers and my aunts and uncles were upset with me because it was like I was somehow acting like I was better than them because I wanted to do better for myself.”

Meyer knew that the decision to further her education was very important to her, and she knew that her family would eventually came around. Being a first-generation college student, she struggled with having her family understand what it meant to be a college student.

“It was this weird thing where they’d always told me that they wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, but when it came time to actually go to college, they said, ‘No, a four-year university is too expensive.’ But it’s like how do you want me to be a doctor or a lawyer and not go to a university? It was interesting,” Meyer said.

Meyer chose Rockhurst because of how she felt when she stepped on campus, but she had to work even harder to be able to pay for her education.

“I work 50 hours a week. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard, ‘Well, you’re not getting the college experience.’ Or, ‘Well, why can’t you just ask off?’ and it’s because I can’t,” Meyer said. “It’s going to be difficult, and yeah, you’re going to worry about money, but in the long-run it doesn’t make a difference. If you’re smart enough to be here, you will be rewarded for it. It is worth it no matter how many struggles you face.”

Looking back, Meyer would tell her younger self to be appreciative of the journey she had to take in order to be where she is today.

“It’s hard to appreciate the things that you’re going through and the person it’s going to make you,” Meyer said. “Just remember that everything you have to go through is there for a reason — to make you a better person when you get to the other side.”