Celebrating our seniors: Alexander Wicken '23

Alexander WickenPhoto/Mike Lovett

Alexander Wicken '23

Alexander Wicken ’23 came to Brandeis because of the university’s academics and commitment to social justice. Becoming a member of the Brandeis Fencing community was just the cherry on top of his college decision process.

The politics major with double minors in social justice and social policy and philosophy is a community advisor and senior pride representative for the Gender and Sexuality center, and is the President of the Brandeis student-athlete advisory council for the NCAA. Most recently, he joined the Pride+ Council, which is a committee under the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging office of USA Fencing.

Wicken took the time to talk about his Brandeis experience, passion for advocacy, and points of pride.

Why does Brandeis fit you?

I came to Brandeis not really sure where I belonged, but I made my own path here. I got involved with all things that are meaningful to me, socially, professionally, and academically.

Being a politics major has fundamentally changed my life and shaped my career goals. I’m now looking at graduate schools and furthering my career in academia because of my Brandeis experience.

How has Brandeis opened your mind?

As a student at Brandeis, I’ve met people from all over the world and as a result, I’ve found my community.

My academics have also challenged me. Studying politics, philosophy, and theories has shown me what it takes to be a good student. I’ve learned that you can’t just do your work and expect it to be good. You have to apply yourself, think critically, and put in the effort. I’ve also learned not to accept everything at face value, as there isn’t always one right answer.

Learning from professor Jeffrey Lenowitz, professor Bernard Yack and professor Marion Smiley has also opened my mind to the idea of a career in academia, studying concepts I’ve developed a passion for within political theory and political philosophy.

What has been your proudest accomplishment outside the classroom?

I’ve been trans my whole life, but I’m a big proponent of viewing the world with an intersectional lens. I am made up of all of my experiences that culminate in who I am as Alex. I can’t separate being an athlete from being trans. Due to this, I’m very passionate about trans advocacy, especially in the athlete community.

Being a senior pride rep within the Gender and Sexuality Center has been the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done. I am a trained peer educator and mentor. I host drop-in hours to create space for folks who are queer, questioning, women, and allies.

During drop-in hours, people can schedule one-on-one meetings or they can come to the space to just hang out, do homework, browse our library, or just enjoy the community. The Gender and Sexuality Center is truly a wonderful office that lets the Brandeis community make a space there for whatever they need. It’s an empowering, safe space for everyone.

I will also lead some trainings for the new Pride Rep cohort, and will help to plan and facilitate GSC-sponsored events throughout the school year. I will also hopefully help to facilitate an LGBT+ Athlete Affinity Group for Varsity Athletes to find support and queer community within the Athletics Department.

Last year I helped to plan an event for International Transgender Day of Visibility called ‘A Fishbowl Conversation with Transgender Athletes.’ This conversation, hosted by a panel of athletes across five sports with ranging divisions, was focused on centering trans joy and valuing trans athletes throughout all of athletics. It was sponsored by Brandeis Athletics, the Brandeis Gender and Sexuality Center, and the national advocacy organization Athlete Ally.

It consisted of a virtual event with viewers from across the county, and an in-person watch party hosted at Brandeis. There were about 150 viewers combined across both platforms.

Planning this was a year-long labor of love, but one of my proudest accomplishments. A lot of people reached out to let me know they appreciated the event. This experience inspired me to continue advocating for the trans community within Brandeis and beyond.

I’m now serving as a member of the PRIDE+ Council for USA Fencing, which promotes the inclusion of queer people throughout all levels of fencing. I feel better qualified to make an impact and continue advocacy on the national level thanks to my training and experiences from working at the GSC.

What are you looking forward to most in your senior year?

The top thing on my mind right now is getting accepted into graduate school. Getting into a PhD program would be a relief. I’m also looking forward to working on my senior thesis and learning more about the world of academia.

I’m also excited for the fencing season. It will be my first time competing on the men’s team, as I have previously only competed on the women’s team. I have always known that I was trans, but I had chosen to compete with women’s teams since I was 13, as I had not started medically transitioning. It feels so rewarding to finally compete in my gender identity after all of this time.

Categories: Athletics, General, Humanities and Social Sciences, Research, Student Life

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