Select Page
Alexis McGilvery class of 2023

Alexis McGilvery ’23

“If you don’t believe it, no one else will believe it for you.”

An interview with Alexis McGilvery ’23, by Matt Walker ‘04


MW: “Please state your name, your graduating class, and where you are from?”


AM: “Hi, my name is Alexis McGilvery. I am class of 2023 and I am from Texas.”


MW: “Where in Texas are you from?”


AM: “I’m from Fort Worth.”


MW: “Thank you. And what are you studying here at Antioch?”


AM: “Currently, I am studying International Political Economy and Business Studies with a focus on French and Spanish language and culture.”


MW: “That’s fascinating. Have you studied any other languages besides French and Spanish?”


AM: “Those are the two languages I’m studying right now. I do want to study five more languages. But I’m starting to understand the difficulties of people who speak more than one language. Forgive me if, at any point in time, I’m not speaking the correct language, because my brain thinks it’s all English now.”


MW: “That’s interesting. Let’s talk more about that. So, you’re going deep with French, and you’re going deep with Spanish. And you’re doing it in a way that connects it to the political economy of the world. Would you say that’s right?”


AM: “So one of the main things that I want to focus on in my degree is how different cultures connect to each other, how different languages work together, and how they communicate. I feel that studying their political economy on their country level and on the city level, as well as studying how they trade with the world on a bigger scale, is very important. It also brings in the business studies aspect because I am very interested in how businesses cross cultural and physical boundaries. Because there are some companies, like AT&T, that operate in Europe, they operate in Latin America, and I just want to understand how they’re able to do that. Even though not everyone speaks the same language.”


MW: “That is a fascinating area of study. So, it’s not the relationship between French and Spanish, but French-speaking cultures and Spanish-speaking cultures sound like they’re kind of your case studies. Is that correct?”


AM: “Yes. So right now, we’re coming up with our senior projects. I’m going to study five different countries. At least I hope to study five different countries. Right now, I’m studying France and Ecuador because those are the two countries that I’ll be visiting in April and in August.”


“I have tried very hard to convince them to let me do two Co-Ops, back-to-back. I’ll be able to see how French companies interact with each other on a ground level and how Spanish-speaking countries interact with each other on a ground level. Which is, I think, pretty interesting.”


MW: “Absolutely. I just will add, I did two back-to-back coops, kind of in the middle of my Antioch time, and I loved it. So that’s great. I’m glad that you’re doing that. It’s so nice to just be out in the world for that extended period, especially when you’re studying abroad. I was in India and it just changed my life. So, I’m sure it’s going to be extremely enriching for you, obviously.”


“Okay, next question. Pretty obvious, along the same lines: Why did you choose those languages or why did you choose those countries?”


AM: “I’m choosing Ecuador because there’s a relationship between Antioch and The Tandana Foundation, which works in Ecuador. And I chose France because my grandfather was born in Bordeaux. I’m very interested to see where he was born. And as far as Spanish as a language, I grew up in Texas, which is right near Mexico. I have a lot of friends who were speaking Spanish, so I had to learn. I may not have been the best speaker but I can understand what people were saying to me. That’s why I chose Spanish. I just always thought French was cool. I chose French as the second language.”


MW: “Awesome. Thank you. Did you study Spanish in high school or was that just more in your community?”


AM: “I’ve studied Spanish in my community and in school since sixth grade all the way until now.”


MW: “Excellent. So, you’ve got these back-to-back, international Co-Ops pretty much set up right now?”


AM: “Yes, I have my flight booked to go to France. I’m still waiting on a response for what exactly I’ll be doing. But come April 18, I will be on the flight. For Ecuador, we’re trying to see if the organization that we’re talking with is going to be accepting applicants. And if they are then I’ll be going to Ecuador for the fall quarter.”


MW: “Great. I see. So yeah, you still have plenty of time to work that out. You’ve got France pretty much in the bag, with some questions still to be answered. Congratulations. I mean, even just getting that far in the process here and in the world in general… I know how difficult that can be. So, congratulations. That’s an achievement in and of itself.”


“So many questions in my mind which ones to ask first? Do you have any advice for other students that might be interested after reading this interview to try and do the same thing? Any tips or tricks or things you’ve encountered on your way?”


AM: “I think people should learn multiple languages. However, if you are not the best at multitasking, not multitasking in the sense that you’re working on something and you’re drinking coffee and you’re doing like five other things same time. I mean, taking two languages back-to-back, which is, I will say, I’m not going to lie, it is difficult. That’s first and foremost. If you are not one to challenge things or to be headstrong about it, then it’s going to be difficult. However, I will say, if you come in and you’re like, “Hey, I want to do this.” then the faculty and staff will help you. On my first day here, I was like, “I’m going to take both of your classes. And I also want to do two, back-to-back Co-Ops.” My goal was to try to get a year out of the country, but that is extremely hard. So I was like “Look, I’m going to do two back-to-back Co-Ops right next to each other.” I didn’t leave a question. If you want to do two back-to-back Co-Ops internationally, you can’t make it a question. You have to make it a statement.”


MW: “Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. I think in my time that helped me. Also, in the wider professional work environment, when you’re dealing with bosses, employers, all those types of things, I’ve always found that it’s best to approach things as if that’s what’s happening. “This is what I’m doing” is a great way to go.”


AM: “I seem like I have everything planned out. But the reason I seem that way is that I just act like I do. From day one, I was like, “I’m going to study abroad. I’m going to do it for as long as I possibly can.” A lot of students here, one of the things that they have trouble with is that sometimes the faculty will question whether or not they actually want to do it. And they will be like, “I don’t like this professor. I don’t like this advisor because they keep questioning me.” But the only reason that they’re going to question you is because you leave a question. If you go in with the confidence that it’s going to get done, it’s going to happen. It’s not a question of “if, who, when, where, or why”. Do I know the exact details: no. It will sort itself out but you have to go in with confidence. If you want to do two languages, if you want to study abroad back-to-back, if you want to study abroad don’t make it a question.”


MW: “Yes. Set your goals and have confidence is what I’m hearing. That’s excellent. That’s so inspiring.”


AM: “Yes, I mean, you should still take advice. A lot of the time my advisors don’t question me. I know of some students whose advisers question them because they seem pretty unsure, and from them telling me about it, I’m like “You seem unsure about being unsure.” The way that I avoided being questioned is just having confidence. You have to believe what you’re saying. If you don’t believe it, no one else will believe it for you. But if you believe it, people will actually rally behind what you believe in without necessarily knowing you. I told my advisor I wanted to study abroad. Next thing I know I’m having conversations with professors being like, “Oh, yeah, I went to Spain. I went to Colombia and have family there.” And I’m like, “Oh, okay.”


MW: “There you go. Yeah, the door just kind of opens. One more question on this. I want to ask you so many things. But for students, for example, that are trying to cultivate that confidence, or may not have that confidence, do you have any advice? How did you get so confident? How do you become so powerful?”


AM: “I think there’s a lot of ways you could go about it. This is just the way that I went about it. The first thing I did, which seems very, very small, and it seems very insignificant. But I heard it one time and I was like “okay, let me try it” and it actually helped me a lot. And it’s just to start. You still need to do other things after this. But this is just the start. It can be as simple as the way you write, the way your writing is. People’s personality goes into their handwriting. One of the things, I heard it on some random grapevine, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a doctor, but the way you write a letter “I” in reference to yourself can show how confident you are. If you want to appear more confident in your writing, instead of making the eye with the two dash marks on top and bottom, you just make an eye, a straight line. When I tell you that was the most uncomfortable letter I have ever written. It was very uncomfortable. Because I’m like “Oh I need the brackets. I need to put a dot above it. I need all of these things. What if it looks like an “L”?” But then you realize people can read. And so just to start off, try writing the letter “I”. I think if you feel comfortable with just writing the letter “I” without needing the brackets behind it, you can take another step. And that’s just where I started.”


MW: “I think that’s good advice. I mean, it’s easy to underestimate that sort of thing until you really try it. I think people could easily write that off. But I think that’s really true and it’s a great starting point, just something so small, so granular, so basic to everything we do: writing, self-reference, and just doing that bold stroke. I think that’s a really beautiful thing. I think that’s a great way for people to start because these kinds of things are so overwhelming. I think for people that don’t have the confidence, that don’t know where to start, I think that’s really great.”


“My next question, getting a little bit back to language… So studying French and Spanish ­- they’re both Romance languages. Have you found them to be similar? Have you found them to be quite different? Any insights you’ve learned from studying them both?”


AM: “I have learned that French and Spanish are very similar. They’re similar. They’re so similar that when they are different, they’re drastically different. So, the words will be spelled the same, but the way you pronounce them is drastically different. When I’m in Spanish class, I sound like I’m speaking French. When I’m in French class, I sound like I’m speaking Spanish. I watch telenovelas. I watch movies in French. At a certain point, I started dreaming in other languages, and I didn’t realize it until I tried to translate in my own dream. I’m like, “Hold on. This is not the right language.” At a certain point those languages, because they’re so similar, start to get mixed. You have to start being more mindful. I have to actively think in English. I have to actively think in French. Because if not, then I’ll switch to Spanish or I’ll switch to English. That’s the one thing that can be frustrating for some people because I can’t stay in the correct language. It is so difficult.”


MW: “Absolutely. I understand that from my own experience. Thank you. And what Co-Ops have you done?”


AM: “For my first Co-Op, I was supposed to work at a convention center as a barback. However, COVID said no. So I ended up going back to Texas, but I worked as an insurance agent with my mom. I actually got my Texas state insurance license. And I was supposed to get my investment license but I realized that I do not want to sell insurance. I do not want to talk to people about dying. I don’t want to talk to people about how they’re going to leave their estate and affairs. That was not for me. It did teach me that it’s going to take a lot more to own a business. Because I had to do my own recruiting. I had to do my own research and stuff. I did learn a lot about running a business. Would I run that type of business? No.”


MW: “So many people talk about that, that some of the best lessons of Co-Op are finding out what you don’t want to do as soon as possible.”


“Changing gears a little bit, a term that you were mentioning at the beginning of the interview keeps coming up. We’ve talked so much about languages, wasn’t the term political economy?”


AM: “International Political Economy and Business Studies.”


MW: “Yeah. How do you interpret that? What do you understand about the concept of political economy?”


AM: “For political economy, one of the things that I love to do but I could not do while I was here is statistics. Because I had already gained my statistics credit. Political economy is very statistical. It’s very mathematical. It’s the study of how the government controls the money in the economy, how the economy responds to different stimuli, and how an economy might respond to another economy. It’s like a feedback loop between different sources. I get to do a lot of statistics and I get to learn a lot about different countries and how their money works and why the inflation rate is so high. Why did this one person not succeed in their presidency? Why did the economy crash? I’m starting to learn about different countries and their economies and how they work, the goods that they’re more likely to sell, the things that they’re more likely to be receptive to. Because some businesses will just not survive in different countries because their culture and their history. Like if you were trying to run a beef business in India, cows are sacred. So yeah, you would probably be run out of the country very quickly.”


MW: “Yeah. Oh yeah. That’s a great example. The perfect example. I’ve got one or two more questions I’d like to ask you so I’ll get right to it. I’m curious what your hopes are? What are your dreams? You seem to have so much ambition and so many very interesting and insightful thoughts. I’m wondering what your outlook for the future is and what you’re hoping and dreaming of for yourself?”


AM: “My dream, a dream I’ve been dreaming of since the eighth grade, is to be accepted into U Penn. After I graduate from Antioch I want to go to the University of Pennsylvania’s law school. And my dream is to become a lawyer. I want to work in litigations. I want to argue in court. I want to build a case. I want to have the experience of building a case and advocating for people. I want to do that for about five to eight years. But during that same time, I also want to build a business. At first, I wanted it to be a computer software company. I no longer wish for it to be a computer software company.”


“So I have to figure out exactly what it’s going to be. But if I had to have one thing that I want more than ever, I want to recreate what was that city called? It was called, I believe it was called, Black Wall Street, in which the entire city was not dependent on the state money, the government money. With all of the money that they were creating, people would come in and buy things and help boost their economy.”


“I’ve been working on the farm. I’ve been working on different things. I believe there’s a very, very real possibility of making a city that is so self-sustaining that they might forget it exists. Take the farm for example. The farm can supply food to the schools, it can supply the food for the child, and there can be multiple farms and people can be doing multiple things. And the schools can be run in a way that incorporates both the environment and the outer world. And thus, the power that we will get would be wind, solar, water, and have a fully self-sustaining green economy. My hope one day is to get to the point where, if you live there, you don’t necessarily need to have a job. Your job is to contribute to the community. As long as you’re contributing in some way, then you don’t need money. Because if you want to get a house okay, work on the farm for X amount of time, and then the city will help you build a house. And if you wanted to leave the town you could. I don’t think anyone should stay at a place that they don’t want to be. But I want money to be used very minimally in this city. They still get paid for things that they need. But ideally, it would be on the city’s grid, not to be on the water supply, not to be on any of the energy uses. Because we will be fully self-sustaining. That’s my wildest dream. If I could have that. If I could build that, that would be perfect.”


MW: “Hey, I believe in you. I say go for it. That’s amazing. Do you feel like you came up with this idea on your own? Or was there something you were reading that started inspiring you? Where did this dream come from?”


AM: “It’s a mixture of things because I realize that the way cities are set up now, it’s not sustainable at all. We can’t live the way that we want to live and expect to be fine. My mom was actually very into me learning about Black history and culture. She first introduced Black Wall Street to me, and it was like an entire city that was not dependent on any assistance from the outside. They have their own base. They have their own schools, recreational centers, parks, playgrounds, churches. They have their own community, weren’t very dependent, and didn’t really need money from the outside. Of course, that didn’t end well. But it still was like that. That could be a thing.”


“I’ve learned a lot through the farm, through visiting The Veil, and the idea that they don’t own the land itself, but they can build their own houses. I think it would be really cool to have a community, an intentional community, where people are there because they want to be there and because they want to live the way that we do.”

Go to to learn more about how Alexis obtained scholarships and and internships. Inroads is an non-profit for graduating seniors and freshman through junior year college students. They work on resume building and mentoring and it is all FREE. The application only takes 15 minutes to fill out.