Alexis Knutsen

Alexis Knutsen

Honors, achievements, and special recognition:

  • Phi Beta Kappa honors society member
  • University Scholar – Academic year 2011-2012
  • Tenney Frank Award for study abroad to participate in an archeological excavation at Gournia, Crete – Summer 2012

How I became interested in my area of study:

I became interested in studying regions of the Middle East through Arabic. While in high school, I had the opportunity to travel to Turkey. While there, I saw beautiful Arabic scripts written throughout many of the archeological sites I visited and decided that Arabic would be the next language I would study. My love of the language soon turned into a serious interest in understanding the cultures and lives of the people who speak it.

An honor, achievement or accomplishment that is most meaningful to me and why:

In the fall of 2012 I began an English class for women at the Islamic Center of Lawrence. When I began planning the class, I was unsure about the number of women who would participate and how we would all interact with each other. However, I have been impressed and humbled by the hard work of the women who come here to learn English and the willingness of volunteers in our community to reach across language and cultural barriers. Together we have made a warm and welcoming environment for women to interact with each other and learn English. I am honored to have worked with so many smart and intelligent women.

Someone who has been a role model for me and why:

I look up to many of my female professors who are dedicated to their fields of study and have encouraged me to push myself in my work. In particular, I owe much thanks to Professor Naima Boussofara who gave me support and encouragement in founding a women’s English class. Her commitment to her students and to teaching is something I admire very much and has made her classes some of the best I have taken at KU.

My favorite KU memory:

I think after I graduate, I will most remember the times I spent with good friends walking through campus, eating out downtown, or going to football and basketball games.

When times get tough, something that helps me get through it:

While at KU I have met some wonderful friends and mentors. When stress starts getting me down, I talk to people and listen to their opinions. It takes a lot off my shoulders when I know other people are willing to help and listen.

An important life lesson I have learned:

From all my travels, I have learned that you always should take a moment to just sit and enjoy your surroundings no matter where you are.

If I had a sister just entering college, I would want her to know….

Don’t do anything because it will look good on your resume. Do something because you enjoy it and it’s the right thing to do.

A favorite quote or saying and why it is meaningful to me:

“Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.”
– William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

I found this quote to be quite relevant for those of us making our way through college. Oftentimes while we are all applying for the internships, the jobs, the study abroad opportunities, and the scholarships we get caught up in the resume race and forget about what we really want to do and how we want to live our lives. This quote is just a reminder that a good life is not solely based upon our successes or victories.