Being from Memphis, Alexandria Exley had lived her whole life where the land was flat. When she visited ETSU for the first time and saw the surrounding mountains, the avid hiker thought, “I could definitely live here and enjoy spending four years studying here.” But what she found she loves the most is the sense of community on ETSU’s campus and throughout the Johnson City area.
“Everyone is really friendly,” she said. “The ETSU community is great and very welcoming, and even more so within the Honors College.”
Exley, a University Honors Scholar, is active in the Honors College Student Council. She served as vice president during her sophomore year, and is now a senior class representative on the council. “I’ve met some of my best friends in the Honors College,” she said. “We mostly work together to improve the program. We talk about the curriculum, student life and how we can improve those within the Honors College.”
Exley is completing a double major in international affairs and French and plans to graduate in May.
“I have always wanted to travel, and have always been interested in how everything functions on a global scale,” she said, “so I thought, ‘International affairs is the major for me.’ My interest and passion for it have just increased as the years have passed.
“I think it’s really important for people to try to learn at least one other language,” she added. “It opens doors in terms of understanding another person’s perspective and culture. I’ve been learning French for a long time, and I think the only way you can really learn a language is to be immersed in it. So I left for Normandy in January 2016 and spent six months studying and practicing there.”
While in France, Exley conducted research for her honors thesis, which pertains to relations between the French government and the Islamic French minority. “I interviewed people there to get their perspectives on certain issues and their concerns and passions,” she said.
Exley is also heavily involved in sustainability efforts at ETSU. She is serving an internship in the Department of Sustainability, working with the EcoNuts student organization to coordinate outreach and education about sustainability among students. She holds a second internship with Sodexo Campus Dining Services at ETSU, acting as a liaison between Sodexo and various programs and monitoring recycling efforts at campus food service locations.
In addition, she is a member of the French Club and has been working with several other students to establish a chapter of Nourish International at ETSU. Through this non-profit organization, students raise funds to benefit causes in underdeveloped communities around the world.
During her time abroad last year, Exley hiked 500 miles on The Way of St. James, or the Camino de Santiago, across the border of Spain. She hopes to continue traveling and hiking in the near future.
“I want to take a little time off,” she says, “and have been saving up my money so I can travel again. I’ll probably do another hike – maybe a little bit longer than last time – and see more countries that I haven’t visited yet, and then dive into graduate school when I get back.
“Ultimately, I would like to do humanitarian work for a non-profit, but that probably won’t happen in the near future. I’ll need to get more life experience and higher education.”