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Colin Powell, retired Army General and former United States Secretary of State, said, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” It seems that General Powell’s recipe for success is something Lexi Aarns, a rising freshman in the Momence Community Unit School District, is already well aware of.

Determined to Make a Difference
By Erica Loos
You have to be honest with yourself before you’re honest with the world.

As an eighth grader at Momence Junior High, she was already putting in the hard work by taking high school algebra classes. Lexi’s strategy is to make sure she is well prepared for college by taking algebra as an eighth grader, honors geometry as a freshman, followed by algebra II, precalculus, and finally calculus as a high school senior.

When asked for a single word that she felt best described her, Lexi called herself determined. But what inspires this determination in Lexi to make her work so hard academically? “My future,” she said simply. This future that Lexi has planned for herself is to attend the University of California, Berkeley to become a criminal psychologist. UC Berkeley is her school of choice at the moment because, “I would like to go someplace else to have new experiences,” she said.


For anyone unfamiliar, criminal psychology is the study of thoughts, behaviors, and intentions of criminal offenders in order to determine their motivations in committing crimes. Typically working in law enforcement, these folks serve a great need of understanding the minds of those who commit crimes and which often aids law enforcement in the prevention of crime, or apprehension of an offender after the fact.


In order to earn such a degree, Lexi will need to obtain a bachelor’s in general psychology or a more specialized field under that general umbrella, followed by a master’s degree in psychology. From there, she has the option to continue her education further in pursuit of a Ph.D, or a Psy.D.


Lexi believes that no one is inherently bad, and through her future work in criminal psychology she hopes to make a difference in the lives of people who have committed crimes. “I would like to give people who’ve made mistakes a chance to redeem themselves,” she said.


Lexi has a strong support system in her corner - her parents and friends are all supportive of her dreams and ambitions. In regard to her dreams of heading to California after high school she said, “My dad’s really on board with it. He likes that I’ll get new experiences. My mom’s a little more hesitant, because she wants me here,” she said with a chuckle. Of her career aspirations, Lexi said her friends, “All support what everyone wants to do with their lives,” and that they all believe they will stay friends throughout their individual journeys.


For now, though, Lexi is still young and enjoys doing things that others her age enjoy, like playing basketball, which she has done for the past three years. With her ever-determined spirit, she said she was initially drawn to basketball because, “Well, I’m pretty short. So I wanted to prove to people that I could do it,” she said with a smile.


Sometimes life can throw us a curveball; and something completely unexpected happens. For Lexi, that was her parent’s divorce. “I was only four, I think, and it was a big change,” she said. Lexi gave her parents due credit for their excellent cooperation and communication with each other; always having her best interests at heart, which provided her the environment to overcome the change in a positive way.


Showing her determination at a young age, Lexi said she didn’t let the new family arrangement get the best of her because she was able to utilize that strong support system she has in place. She said, “Talking about my honest feelings with my friends and close family,” was how she was able to make it through the challenging time. “You have to be honest with yourself before you’re honest with the world,” she concluded.


When talking to Lexi, it’s obvious she has a high level of care and empathy for others. If she had the power to make anything happen in the world, she said she would, “Make it that no one was treated differently because of something they can’t control.” In her view, things such as, “disabilities or gender,” and even, “hair color, hair type, stuff like that,” she said. To put it more simply, Lexi said, “If you can’t control something, you shouldn’t be discriminated against for it.”


Clearly, Lexi has the spirit and the drive to make a difference in our world and we know she will make us proud as she executes on her plan to do so. She already has.

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