Alexa Ortiz is a third generation Beaver who never thought she would compete in collegiate athletics.
She arrived at Oregon State hoping to get involved in campus life, but without a firm idea how. She played sports like softball and basketball in high school, but was never overly competitive.
During Connect Week, Ortiz attended an activities fair where a member of the rowing team encouraged her to try.
“I don’t know,” she told her. “It seems like rowers get up really early, and it sounds kind of hard.”
But PE credit for the three-week-long tryouts was enough to convince Ortiz to give it a shot. After that, she never looked back.
“I toughed through my novice year and had some really fun experiences racing and competing,” she said. “Ever since then, I’ve really loved rowing. I’ve really enjoyed all four years I had on that team.”
Ortiz also ventured to try out new areas in the classroom. A zoology major, her curiosity lead her to attain three minors: chemistry, fish and wildlife and entomology.
“I would encourage incoming and current students to try new things,” Ortiz said. “Try a new sport; join a few clubs you think you would never be a part of; take some classes you don’t know if you’ll enjoy. College is all about experimenting and figuring out new interests and things you want to do.”
Dr. Douglas Warrick, Ortiz’s Zoology professor, is impressed by her energy, as well as accomplishments that include a 3.91 GPA.
“Taking the first exam in my physiology class, she sat fairly bubbling over with enthusiasm for the opportunity to recall and deduce and provide answers,” Warrick said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more animated response (well, positive response) to one of my exams.”
During her time at Oregon State, Ortiz further discovered her passion for animals. This August, she will start school at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University outside Boston. Her long-term goal is to become a wildlife veterinarian.
“I feel prepared,” Ortiz said of her upcoming cross-country move. “I think I’ve been able to build strong character and personality here at Oregon State, so I think I’ll be able to connect and communicate a lot better on the East coast.”
Ortiz said she will miss her rowing teammates most after college. Though unexpected, the experience of rowing and being a collegiate athlete was an invaluable experience for Ortiz.
“It was a huge amount of my time here,” she said. “Every year. Every day. I’m going to miss that.”
Warrick said OSU will miss her as well.
“To see someone willing to invest that much of herself in such a place – one that, for her, is temporary – bodes well for OSU, and for the larger world.”