The 2021-2022 academic year at UWL is over. From there, students will take their time with summer vacation and prepare for the upcoming school year. However, not all students will return. As people prepare for the next school year, seniors graduating will spend their summers preparing to find jobs and venture out into the world. Here at The Racquet, we are going to lose two seniors who are very special to us.
Together with journalist Julia Wille, editor-in-chief Alexia Walz and editor-in-chief Maija Sikora will graduate. These two will leave their positions as editors at The Racquet and students at UWL to pursue lives outside of school.
Alexia Walz (she/they) is a major in communication, with a focus on media studies, and a double minor in creative writing and digital media studies and design. “I kind of threw myself into it and ended up really loving it,” Walz says. The reason she “jumped” into it was because communications weren’t Walz’s first choice.
As Walz explains, “I transferred here from the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities and was well on my way to getting into their journalism school. But I ended up only spending a semester there. She adds, “So I came back and wanted the same degree, but we didn’t have a journalism school.” The reason for their minors, Walz describes how she just wanted the experience. “I wanted Adobe and photography experience. I have no intention of going into this, just thought it would be a cool minor.
Maija Sikora (she/her), like Walz, is a communications major with a major in media studies, but a double minor in digital media studies and international studies. Also, like Walz, Sikora found herself at UWL looking for something different than what she does now. Sikora describes, “I majored in biology because I spent a lot of time in high school doing internships and courses focused on science and medicine. So, I thought I was going to be a doctor and that’s why I came to this school because it was really good for science.
However, Sikora explains that she never really fell in love with science, adding, “I got burned out so quickly and was like, ‘I can’t do this.’ So, for a while, I was indeterminate. It got to the point where Sikora considered leaving UWL, but, as she describes it, something happened that made her change her mind. always loved to write,” says Sikora.
Sikora goes on to explain how she first got involved with The Racquet, stating, “I had a roommate who was The Racquet’s sportswriter, and he said I should join him. So, I just came for an interview and fell in love with it. Eventually, Sikora decided to switch gears and she became a communications major because of her love for The Racquet.
Walz had a similar affinity for writing and journalism, which also led them to the racket. “I kind of wanted to get involved in journalism in a more circular way since I left the University of Minnesota. So when I transferred to UWL, I just Googled the newspaper student and I applied. Suddenly, as Walz describes it, she got an email within two hours about their application, set up an interview, and found herself a member of the racket.
A love for The Racquet is something that is shared between Walz and Sikora. So much so that they even asked to share a single Humans of UWL article, which is pretty rare. When asked why she wanted to share that spotlight with Alexia, Sikora replied, “It made sense.” Since joining The Racquet in 2019, Walz and Sikora have risen to senior editor positions.
“The first strong memory I have of [Walz] was when we were taking the last picture of the year and Sam (a former member of Racquet) said, ‘everyone’s graduated, it’ll just be you guys,’ and I said, ‘we’re gonna make it fun ‘” Sikora says. After Sikora’s exclamation, Walz added, “Yeah!” They went on to describe that from the moment they met, “the vibes were all the same even though we didn’t know each other.”
As Walz explains, “The reason I know things and know people is because of the racquet. Most of my relationships started with the racquet, which I think is really cool. Walz goes on to say, “The racquet helped me think critically; it definitely shaped the way I see the world. Sikora says, “[The Racquet] has become my favorite thing about the UWL,” Walz adding, “I would back that statement.
Beyond UWL, Walz and Sikora have a plan for the way forward. For Sikora, she describes a potential job in Maine. “I would work with mentally challenged children and counsel their whole family. It is a holistic approach to counseling by providing families with coping mechanisms and support for children; that would be amazing,” Sikora describes.
For Walz, while their after-school plan is to stay at La Crosse and keep working, she talks about doing similar snowshoeing work. “The ideal next year of my life would be to be able to find a freelance writing job,” says Walz. She goes on to say, “I have editing experience here at the Racket and have edited for Steam Ticket and The Catalyst, which I have also contributed to. So, I have the resume and I think it would be really cool to do something like that.
At the end of their tenure here at The Racquet and UWL, the two editors walk away with some advice for incoming students. From Sikora, her advice is: “Get involved. That’s how you become part of the climate here at UWL, and if you’re part of the climate, that’s really the only way to affect it. Walz, on the other hand, offers the following advice: “I would implore anyone starting out here at UWL to be themselves and do whatever they want. It’s a good time to do it because you’re just figuring yourself out. If you feel like going against the grain and being a maverick, I urge you to do so.