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Woman of the Year finalist: Alexa Baltes

The former Illinois Wesleyan guard is committed to a life of service

Baltes is dedicated to serving others in her community and internationally.

Each week, Alexa Baltes opens her mail to find a colorful drawing and brief letter written in Spanish. Her pen pal, a young girl in Nicaragua, writes simply, but the friendship she has developed with Baltes is evident. The topics of her letters vary: school, family pets and, most often, the importance of religion in her life.

Alexa Baltes
Illinois Wesleyan University
Division III
College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin

GPA: 3.90
Majors: Political science; English literature
Academic All-America honors
2012 Elite 89 Award winner, DIII women’s basketball
Dean’s list every semester

National champion, 2012
First recorded triple-double in school history
Josten’s Trophy finalist

Community Service
Allstate Good Works Team
Organizations served: Compassion International, Feed My Starving Children, Race for the Cure, among others

Two-time team captain
One year on campus SAAC

Each week, Baltes, who played basketball at Illinois Wesleyan University until she graduated this year, responds with encouragement and positivity. Each month, she makes a donation that helps pay for her pen pal’s food and fees at school.

Their friendship first developed when the young girl was seven years old and Baltes signed up to sponsor a child through Compassion International, an organization that aims to break the cycle of poverty by sponsoring children in need.

“I’ve been so blessed in my childhood and growing up, and I just wanted to support someone where I could,” Baltes said. “I just wanted to help in some small way.”

Baltes led a high school mission trip to Nicaragua and, though she has not met her pen pal, had a positive experience. She relished the opportunity to help others. The group worked in several villages and communities. In one, the work involved building roofs for homes made of sticks. In another, the students built a church, which the village uses as their school and community center. In every location, the group focused not just on meeting the physical needs of the people but also the spiritual needs.

“People are generally very similar in the sense that we all want and need the same things,” Baltes said. “It doesn’t really matter what you do or where you come from…People are receptive to small acts of kindness, and that can change the trajectory of someone’s life.”

After wrapping up her successful college basketball career, she looks back fondly on her years as a student-athlete, recalling the support she had from her coaches and administrators, who urged her to pursue her interests academically and in service. She is now working toward a law degree at the University of Notre Dame, and though she isn’t sure field of law she will eventually pursue, she plans to make service the focal point of her career.

“The idea of service is what you take away from those experiences,” Baltes said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re working with someone in a big law firm or doing more public service…People need to be served in whatever way you can.”