by Tony Moore
Alexandra "Lexie" Raczka '14 had her first experience with Dickinson accidentally, when she wandered into an admissions event in Boston when she was only in 8th grade. Even then, she says, she and her mom knew that the college could be a great fit for her, but it would be three more years before she'd step onto campus.
"Dickinson was the third school I visited but the first one that I really had an interest in," she says. After her Dickinson visit, Lexie went on to visit 18 more colleges, but in the end, she only applied to one.
"Dickinson has been everything that I hoped it would be and more," she says. "It's provided me with so many opportunities, both in and out of the classroom to develop my passions, learn about so many current issues and have the opportunity to interact with leading figures, especially in environmental fields."
Raczka is an environmental-studies major, and although she knew that Dickinson "practiced what it preached" in terms of the environment and sustainability, she was nevertheless surprised at the extent of it and how the atmosphere on campus would change her life.
"I knew that I wanted to study environmental science," she says, "but when I came to Dickinson I didn't anticipate the role that local and sustainable food would have in my life." Now, in her junior year, Lexie is a student farmer at the College Farm, the sustainability intern for Dining Services, president of Students Interested in Sustainable Agriculture and a co-leader of the Sustainable Food Committee.
Although propelled by her own interests, Raczka credits her John Dickinson Society scholarship with steering the direction of her time in Carlisle. "This substantial scholarship has motivated me to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way," she says, noting that donors' contributions are not one-time gifts to students at Dickinson but rather gifts that keep on giving.
"Dickinson empowers its students to take what they learn on campus and apply it to society in ways that truly make a difference for others," she says. "I am directly benefiting from donations to the JDS scholarship, but all of the people who I hope to touch in my life in relation to the passions and knowledge that I have developed here at Dickinson are indirectly benefiting from their contributions to the scholarship as well."
The future benefits of the JDS scholarship for Raczka and her family are even more tangible.
"Having this scholarship allows me to have the option to pursue graduate school if I choose," she says, "because of the money that my family has saved in my undergraduate education." Raczka will likely pursue food systems as her graduate school focus, which she sees as leading her into a world she can affect in a big way. "I am an optimist in my hopes to not necessarily 'save the world' but to make it much better than it currently is. Dickinson gets that people should be engaged and have useful skills to make a difference in the world."
Published November 24, 2013