BHC Spotlight: Alex Powers '21

Major/Minor: Mathematics & Political Science with a minor in Computer Science
Hometown: Collegeville, PA

Alex Powers '21

Why did you choose the Batten Honors College?
It was the Batten Honors College that really set Virginia Wesleyan apart from other schools for me.  The living and learning community was an extension of that community I was seeking.  I wanted to learn and work alongside a diverse group of students who shared my ambition and dedication.  The focus on building leaders of tomorrow was especially appealing.  As a whole, it was the strong community and vast array of opportunities that told me this was a place I could truly grow as a student of the world.  I knew I had to be a part of something like that.

What benefits have you gained from the BHC?
The Batten Honors College provided me with a lot of skills, resources, and opportunities right out of the gate.  The academic rigor and interdisciplinary courses especially stand out as key tenets for me.  I always want to push myself in my studies.  I’ve always found it important to borrow from different disciplines to solve modern issues, too.  So, the curriculum and course load has been exactly what I was looking for and then some. The experiential learning, especially early on, has been a big part of what the Batten Honors College has given me.  Having the opportunities to study in Washington, D.C. and Barcelona in my first year alone exemplify the level of experience the Honors College promotes.  All of these connections and experiences through the BHC have prepared me as I further my studies and begin a professional career.

Highlight a specific research, internship, and/or study abroad experience.
One of my most prominent experiences has been interning with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in their Innovation Hub.  I’ve been able to work with a great group of people from around the globe, as well as sit in on meetings with various professors and experts in different fields.  I’ve worked on two major projects at NATO, which include facilitating a global challenge to collect innovative solutions on the topic of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) incidence prevention and recovery, as well as a war game simulation that will take place this upcoming fall.  The war game simulation will involve a lot of the VWU community, and I’ll be continuing my internship with NATO into the fall to organize this event and interpret its results.  As a Political Science student, this experience is truly rewarding.  It has also been a really great opportunity for professional development.

How did the BHC curriculum or program prepare you for this experience?
The Batten Honors College gave me a lot of experiences that prepared me for this internship.  Honors courses like Complex Global Challenges, Topics of Leadership in Literature, and Models of Decision-Making provided great interdisciplinary lenses for examining the political arena.  One of the biggest motivators for my pursued interest in politics in the first place was my Honors experience in Washington D.C. during Winter Session of my first year.  The Leadership Institute at the Osgood Center in Washington, D.C. really inspired me to take a hands-on approach to politics.  It turned a casual interest into a genuine academic and professional path for me.  Along the way, plenty of other skills were fostered that prepared me for this internship in the way of research, organization, communication, and the like.  Yet, it was the various interdisciplinary perspectives and immersive experience in D.C. that really brought me to this point.

What did you hope to achieve/gain from this experience? 
I wanted to gain professional experience as I prepare to enter the workplace.  Having real tangible work and skills is important looking ahead.  I also really wanted to find ways to apply my learning.  It’s one thing to read books, take notes, and pass tests.  It’s something altogether different to take those ideas and apply them where they matter most.  Having examined different areas of politics and NATO specifically, it was valuable to apply this knowledge and other disciplines to the projects I was working on.  Lastly, I wanted to be a part of something with substance - something that contributes to society.  I know I’m a small cog in a big wheel at NATO, but at least I know what I am doing has purpose and real-life application.  My work with the Innovation Hub can produce some real technology and information, which is always incredibly rewarding to think about.

What are you involved with on campus at VWU?

  1. Ethics Bowl (Captain)
  2. Academic Tutor in Mathematics, Spanish, and Honors Courses
  3. Model United Nations (participated in Model UN Conference in NYC)
  4. Debate Club (Vice President)
  5. Marlin Chronicle (Editor)
  6. Virginias Collegiate Honors Council (Student Representative)
  7. Intramural Basketball
  8. Intramural Flag Football
  9. Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society
  10. President’s List
  11. Southern Regional Honors Conference (2018)
    1. Pathway to Leadership: A Reflection on Leadership and Experiential Learning in our Nation’s Capital
  12. Virginias Collegiate Honors Council (2019)
    1. The Harmony of Religion, Nature, and Mathematics in Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia