Alumni in 10
Alexa Balgenorth, '15
Lead Adult ESL Instructor / Kent ISD
Degree Earned/Emphasis Area
Secondary Education and English (BA) / Literacy Studies with an Emphasis in TESOL (endorsement)
1. What has your journey been since graduation?
Since graduation, I jumped right into a master’s program to get endorsed in TESOL. During that time I had five jobs, one was an EL interventionist at a middle school and another was a Graduate Assistant for GVSU. After a year of hard work I got my endorsement as well as my first full-time job with Kent ISD as an Adult ESL Instructor. I no longer worked five jobs, and was able to be a teacher as well as an Etsy shop owner. Through Etsy, I started off as a miniature crochet artist and changed over to a miniature clay artist in 2017. I also am in craft shows about once a month around the Westside and Eastside of Michigan. In 2018, I married my best friend, who I met at GVSU. We got a house shortly after in Grand Rapids, and then adopted a chatty cat as well.
2. How has Grand Valley had a role in your journey?
Grand Valley completed that missing piece in my life, a home. I have had many homes in my life, but Grand Valley was one of the most stable. I was able to be myself, and explore my interests and what I wanted to do with my life. Grand Valley was the first place I really got to meet international exchange students. I remember running into a class that was carrying out one of their lessons in Kirkhof where students were asked to practice their English, and they interviewed me. Thus, I found my passion to work with English Language Learners. In addition, GVSU let me and my husband find one another in an education course in the basement of Mackinac. We were able to share the experiences of getting lost in that building as well as a great education in becoming teachers. GVSU has also given me confidence and the ability to be part of a group and a leader. I became a founding member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, joined Alternative Breaks in Oklahoma to volunteer with Cherokee Nation, and lead as an Executive Assistant on the Panhellenic Board. I was also able to study abroad in Rome, Italy and teacher assist in Ourense, Spain.
3. What is your favorite Grand Valley memory?
It is difficult to find just one of my favorite memories of Grand Valley. My entire experience is my favorite memory because it made me who I am today. If I must choose, it would be teaching abroad with Grand Valley’s pilot program in Ourense, Spain in 2014 with eight other women. We definitely built a bond between all of us and now call ourselves the YOTISO group (You Only Teach In Spain Once). Since then we have been at each other’s weddings, baby showers, book clubs, and get-togethers. It is something I am very grateful of doing at GVSU.
4. What three words describe your experience at Grand Valley?
Engaging, opportunistic, and a journey.
5. How, and why, have you stayed involved with Grand
Valley since graduation?
I invite GVSU students from the College of Education program to volunteer and teacher assist (from the master’s program) in my school and my classroom. I invite students to observe, reach out, and explore the adult education world. Furthermore, I reach out to multiple programs like the Greek community, speech pathology club, and other groups to volunteer in my school.
6. Why are you proud to be a Laker for a Lifetime?
I am proud to be a part of such a welcoming, committed, and powerful community. Grand Valley is my extended home and family. I wish for anyone that has an interest, or is a part of GVSU to have similar feelings as I do. I am confident that anyone can be positively affected by GVSU because of all the programs, communities, and clubs they have to offer.
7. What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy crafting. After a long day of teaching you will find me in my craft room either making something for my classroom or my Etsy store. I enjoy making miniature charms, jewelry, magnets, and more out of polymer clay. I also do kickboxing at night and enjoy walks around small towns and antique stores. I also read and listen to a lot of books.
8. What is your favorite quote/motto to live by?
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
9. What motivates you?
Possibilities, and the ability to bring joy to someone’s life motivates me.
10. What book or movie have you recently enjoyed?
The Druid Chronicles: Tricked by Kevin Hearne