Alumnus Profile: Alexander Wilson
When Aquinas graduate Alexander Wilson ’09 talks about his alma mater, it is clear that AQ still holds a very special meaning for him.
“Aquinas has such a nurturing community and it was so supportive, and I met my best friends there,” Wilson said. “We all kept each other focused, but it wasn’t competition, it was ‘how do we do the best we can do here.’ That’s something that’s really unique to Aquinas: they don’t foster competition in the sense of trying to one-up another person, but of ‘how do we be better as a whole.’ That’s something that’s really cool.”
During his time at Aquinas, Wilson participated in Model United Nations, Model Arab League, Student Senate, a study abroad program in Spain and Pi Sigma Alpha (the National Political Science Honor Society), all while earning two majors in political science and Spanish. He also held a couple internships for political campaigns, including for President Obama in 2008. Wilson went on to earn his Master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University, which he completed in August 2011.
“[Going into journalism is] one of the things good political students, with good writing skills, can do,” said Dr. Roger Durham, chair of the political science department. “That’s a really good contribution - being a good, non-partisan professional journalist. And that’s certainly where’s gone. He’s a professional journalist.”
Wilson made his debut with the release of his capstone piece “Argentine water in demand amid gold, oil, gas rush” through the Associated Press at the end of September. The article discusses the move by Argentina to begin mining massive reserves of natural gas, oil, gold, lithium and other metals which were, previously, out of reach. However, Wilson’s main point in the article offers an in-depth outline of the consequences of these mines. With 16% of Argentinean households already without clean drinking water, the massive amounts of fresh water which would be needed to run these mines would only exacerbate the shortage.
“I went down to Argentina because I wanted to actually put into practice the things that I was learning in school,” Wilson said. “I wanted to actually write those stories and find out what true poverty was and I wanted to see what people were actually struggling with inside the developing world.”
Wilson’s article has gained momentum, appearing in several major media sources including ABC, Yahoo! and World News, along with numerous other news publications and websites. While this article represents a culmination of all that he gained from his Aquinas education, Wilson admits it is also the product of his pursuit after a single idea.
“He certainly has the capacity to be prolific and I think he tends to get really passionate about issues and if there’s something that captures him, he will certainly stay with it,” said Dr. Molly Patterson, assistant professor of political science and Wilson’s advisor at AQ. “He really made his education his own. He was crafting an education, he wasn’t just going through the motions. He was interested in figuring out what he really cared about and who he was as a person, and doing all those sort of well-rounded things.”
Currently, Wilson is working for a public relations firm in Chicago, and is continuing to stay involved in the political scene as a journalist. As far as the future is concerned, he’s keeping his options open, but is hoping to write books and someday give back to Aquinas.
“I think it was transformative,” Wilson said of his time at Aquinas. “The best way to summarize it is that it’s a great education, but it’s the best community you’ll ever find. It’s loving and supportive of you as long as you try to better yourself. My friends and I are always thinking about how we’re going to give back to AQ eventually, because it really shaped all of our lives.”