Video feature: Princeton Profiles: Alex Wheatley, scholar and athlete
Sneakers skidded on a hardwood court and the rhythmic sound of a basketball hit the floor in different beats during a recent practice at Princeton's Jadwin Gymnasium. For Princeton junior Alex Wheatley, these sounds have been a part of her life since she was young. She remembers playing the sport in early elementary school and in her home driveway with her father. Now, Wheatley is a starting forward on the No. 13-ranked Princeton women's basketball team, which went 30-0 this regular season. The Division I team received a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament and will play No. 9 seed University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Saturday, March 21, in College Park, Maryland.
"I love the sport, but I play for my teammates," Wheatley said. "The girls on this team are my best friends on campus. They're an amazing group of people, and I am honored and happy everyday to come play with them."
Wheatley's interests extend far beyond athletics. She is majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology and pursuing a certificate in global health and health policy. Last summer, Wheatley traveled to Kenya for eight weeks to work with the Northern Kenya Conservation Clubs as a teaching assistant to children in the fifth through eighth grade.
"I have always considered a career in policy or research, and I got to experience the research side of things when I was living in Kenya," Wheatley said. "I liked it, but I didn't know if it was the right fit for me. So when I got back to campus, I dove into my global health studies and added that on top of the discussions I had in Kenya about policy issues. I decided that policy is where I want to take my life after graduation."
Wheatley was recently selected to participate in the Scholars in the Nation's Service Initiative (SINSI), a program started in 2006 by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
As a SINSI student, Wheatley will spend the summer after her junior year in a SINSI-funded federal government internship. After graduation, she will enter the Wilson School's two-year Master in Public Affairs program and a two-year SINSI-supported fellowship with the federal government.
"What drew me to the SINSI program is the opportunities it provides," Wheatley said. "SINSI has everything I want for post-graduation. The people who I have talked to in the program are amazing individuals, and they have done so many cool things that I knew this is where I want to be."