Most people know Alex Vander Veen for her record-breaking seasons on the Simpson College swim team and her strong classroom-discussion voice.
A little-known fact is that this student-athlete originally was headed to Central College to continue her education. But Central College didn’t have a women’s swimming program.
It wasn’t until a friend told her to check out Simpson College, she decided to weigh her options. From there, Vander Veen visited, applied and was accepted shortly before the fall semester began.
There tends to be a stigma around the student-athlete title these days. Skipping class, being passive within classes or not putting in any outside effort, just focusing on perfecting their craft within the sport they participate in.
But Vander Veen ends those stigmas. She is present in each class, she works hard outside of designated class times on her assignments and studies and still finds time to perfect her skills in the water.
Here’s a Q&A with Alex Vander Veen on how she has found success within the Multimedia Communications department as a student-athlete.
What are your hobbies, passions or causes you support?
My main hobby is swimming — my love for the sport has grown a lot while at college. It is one of my stress relievers because when I get into the pool nothing else matters. I have given so much to the sport and it in return has given a lot back.
I would defiantly say that my life revolves around swimming. However, outside of the pool, I am kind of a tomboy. I love hanging out with my dad; going four wheeling or helping out on our acreage. I once helped my dad restore a 3020 John Deere tractor and helped ‘flip’ one of our rental properties.
What internship experiences have you had and where?
I interned at Northwestern Mutual in the summer and fall of 2015. It was a huge learning experience helping me develop into a young professional. It was also one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
I was licensed to sell life, disability and long-term care insurance. I had to create my own clientele from my own personal network of people. I was my own boss, made my own schedule and strictly received commission. There was a lot of ups and downs with the job, but I loved the environment and culture there. I loved the difference I was making in people’s lives and helping them create security for themselves and their families.
From that internship experience, did it solidify your career path or did it make you think of other options?
During the summer I was curtain this internship was what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I loved being in charge of my own schedule. The harder I worked, the more meetings leading to potential clients.
In the fall, I came to realize I didn’t like the actual job itself. I dreaded dialing people to make appointments and I found that I wasn’t excited in the meetings either, which was supposed to be the best part. So, I decided to walk away from that career because it wasn’t for me.
What made you choose Simpson College and the Multimedia Communication department?
I chose Simpson because I meet an alumnus over the summer before freshmen year who told me more about the college.
I was originally going to Central, but I was having a hard time with the idea of not swimming in college.
I was talking to one of my co-workers about the idea of swimming in college and he said, “Go to Simpson, they have a brand new pool and a new coach.”
That night I Googled Simpson, visited them the next Wednesday and moved in that following Saturday. I actually got my acceptance letter in my mailbox here on campus.
I choose the Multimedia Communications department because I have a strong role model in my life who worked in public relations. She actually attended Simpson College but received a degree in accounting. I admired her for her strong work ethic. I wanted to be just like her, so that’s why I choose PR.
I look at PR professionals as superheroes of the modern day.
What is your involvement like on campus? Do you have any leadership roles?
I was in PRSSA my freshmen – junior year. Being on the swim team, this year I have received the honor of being the captain for the 2016-17 season.
Could you talk about the swim team and your involvement there? Any awards or broken records?
I currently hold three records: 100 Fly, 200 Medley Relay (I swam the 50 fly in that relay) and the 400 Medley Relay (I swam the 100 Fly in that relay).
Aside from my personal records, I have been actively involved in expanding our team. I have spoken and met with several recruits — a lot those recruits are currently swimming on the team now.
What do you see yourself doing for the rest of your professional career?
My dream job is to flip houses. I hope to get my real estate license after college, sell houses for a couple of years under a company, then go work on my own. I want to buy, fix and re-sell homes for a profit.
My second dream job would be to work for Arrowhead Stadium and do event planning there.