By Isabella Lefkowitz-Rao
Alexis Bentz, a recent graduate of Wootton High School, is spending her freshman year of college at home rather than at Washington University in St. Louis. Hoping to major in English with a concentration in creative writing, Bentz, 18, has thrown herself into her classes and is making the best of the situation.
WJW last spoke to Bentz in 2018, when she described how her maternal grandparents, Larry and Sue Jeweler of Rockville, inspired her to bring older and younger people together. As a high schooler, Bentz founded the Generations Together Club, which aimed to connect teenagers to residents at the Villages at Rockville.
What went into your decision to study from home?
It was definitely a difficult decision to make. For me as a humanities major, the courses I’m taking were all online anyway, regardless of whether students were taking them in person on campus or remotely from home. The bigger issue for me was in terms of COVID and safety.
Some people in my family are immunocompromised and I didn’t like the idea of putting anyone at risk. I thought it would be best and safest to stay home and I definitely do not regret that decision.
What is school like online?
It’s definitely not as rich as I think it would be if I were there in person. Admittedly, I think that having the face-to-face connection and feeling the energy of being with other students in a classroom is really important and that is to a certain extent lost. Given the circumstances, it’s been going really well. I’m still learning a lot and being exposed to a lot of interesting information. I’m still able to connect with peers and my professors. Although not ideal, everything is going smoothly and I’m happy with the decision.
What classes are you taking?
I am taking a first-year seminar called Imagining the Medieval and Fantasy in Science Fiction. It’s one of my favorite classes, I love it. It’s looking at fantasy and science fiction texts and analyzing why medieval times are so frequently used as a playground for those stories.
That’s been a blast. I’m also taking a Women’s Gender and Sexuality studies class, which is another favorite of mine and is very topical considering everything going on politically right now. I’m also taking a philosophy class, a history class focused on Western Civilization and a Spanish class.
How else are you staying busy?
Luckily WashU is still allowing remote students to participate in extracurricular activities, which has been fabulous for me. Specifically, I am a staff member on Spires, which is WashU’s literary magazine. I am a contributor and writer for Her Campus, which is an online magazine written for and by women. I’m also a board member of Out of the Blue, which is a service organization which seeks to inspire a love for reading and supplement instruction in reading for underprivileged children in the St. Louis community.
All of those have filled my time and kept me busy and connected to the WashU community, which has been great. Besides that, I have been doing a lot of reading, a lot of watching Netflix and spending a lot of time with family and FaceTiming my friends.
How have you incorporated your work connecting generations into your current work?
It’s not as big of a focus as it was for me previously. In high school, I was really involved in Generations Together and that was an incredible experience. I have been hoping to host a “senior” prom for the residents at the Village at Rockville. Unfortunately that had to be canceled because of COVID. Now, because of the pandemic and because of the fact that I’m not on campus, I have not been able to do as much in-person volunteering, but I have kept in touch with the Villages at Rockville and sent well wishes to the residents.
I’m hoping to use my platform as a writer for Her to write some articles about the importance of intergenerational relationships. Once I’m on campus and in person, I’m hoping to continue that work in some capacity because I still very much believe that intergenerational relationships are something that we should all aspire to have.