Alexa Alberts, 2016 EMF workhorse scholar.

Alexa Alberts, 2016 EMF workhorse scholar.

Born and raised in Ohio by parents Charles and Kathy, Alexa “Lexi” Alberts was taught to value dependability, consistency and perseverance from a very young age. Alongside her brother, Andy, Lexi learned both compassion and discipline, which would stay with her to present day.

Like many, family and friends were a strong support network.

“I grew up with two great parents and a handful of loving friends,” Alberts said. “Growing up, my time was spent going on leisurely bike rides, working, doing homework, and winding down with my family every evening for family dinner. My friends and I spent nice days at local parks, and gray days in one of our houses, working on arts and crafts projects.”

By seventh grade, Alberts began finding her own way by gauging her interests, which mainly revolved around helping others.

“I started getting a sense that I wanted to pursue a career in the social services and mental health fields,” she said. “My interest in these fields only blossomed as I grew. By the time I was a junior in high school, I was in Young Volunteers club, involved in Church Service trips, and I started doing more serious research into mental health counseling and social work degrees.”
Seven years later, and that experience helped propel her forward into a graduate-level social work program. Maintaining a job and a full-time graduate program required some of the same discipline she learned earlier in life. Luckily, she’d been working since she was in middle school. Her first job came in the form of neighborly yard work during the spring and summer of her fifth grade year. She’d wanted a job so bad that she took a hand-made poster that advertised “yard work services” throughout her neighborhood.

“I started working different jobs in 6th grade and throughout the years, on top of paper routes, school, and babysitting, I had household chores,” Alberts recalled. “My parents were proud of my accomplishments, but they did not go easy on me: I was held accountable for my commitments and household responsibilities, and they expected a lot of me.

“Growing up with strong values of responsibility and high expectations, I recognized that when I graduated high school that I, and only I, was responsible for taking the steps towards crafting a future that would make me feel satisfied and accomplished,” she added. “With this in mind, I started researching colleges, applying to scholarships, and working hard to save money for my first years at college.”

Along the way, Alberts has found further support in her mentor, Trina, who she first met while working in her school’s financial aid office.

Trina has been so incredibly supportive as I have progressed through my undergraduate career and transitioned into graduate school,” Alberts noted. “She has been my confidant and advisor, especially around scholarship applications, job opportunities, money management, and as well as other, more personal challenges. We both have similar socioeconomic backgrounds and we both are the first people in our families to go to college. She’s been a wonderful support person and ally as I have grown into a young adult.”

Others inspire her to achieve, as well. One in particular was Viktor Frankl, a neurologist, psychologist, existentialist philosopher, and a Holocaust survivor. Alberts said that when she was 18, she read Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he recounts his experiences in a concentration camp.

“He describes his psychotherapeutic theories, which highlight the human capacity for hope and self-actualization,” Alberts said. “Frankl’s life story and powerful psychotherapeutic theories have remained immense sources of inspiration and empowerment in my life.”

For Alberts, that inspiration and empowerment help provide her with the energy to support people who are healing from childhood traumas.

“Many clients I work with in the social work and mental health field have experienced various forms of childhood trauma,” she said. “Trauma survivors are resilient and strong, still, sometimes I see how the after-effects of trauma negatively impact a person’s propensity to thrive later in life. In my career field, I plan to work with trauma survivors to offer the tools and support with which they can empower themselves to heal and grow.”

Tyson Bittner

EMF Board member Tyson Bittner

She stays motivated through long hours of work and study by knowing she it will help her be better able to provide social services to people in need. That, in itself, serves as a sources of happiness. And it’s a notion that helped catch the Erickson Merkel Foundation’s attention.

“Ms. Alberts’ commitment to earning her Master’s in Social Work while working full-time was just part of her appeal as a workhorse candidate,” said EMF Board member Tyson Bittner. “She also displayed a high level of dedication to her chosen field as well as a long-lived work ethic that exemplifies traits we greatly value.”
Alberts’ dedicated efforts are taking her toward her goal, which she says is to continue shaping a professional and personal life that she found satisfying and fulfilling – and as debt-free as possible. She urged other students to find dedicated, creative efforts to take control of their finances, as this time of their lives would invariably shape their futures. For herself, she was aiming to keep her eye on the immediate prize.

“This looks like continuing my education, staying physically active, and reading informative and empowering material in my free time,” she said. “My professional goal is to earn a Masters in Social Work and go on to serve as a trauma-survivor advocate and a mental health counselor in private and public practice. … After I earn my Masters in Social Work, I will work on getting clinical licensure for my degree. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I will be able to work in clinical therapy and hospital settings.”