Humans of UWL: Alexia Walz and Maija Sikora


Maija Sikora (left) and Alexia Walz (right). Photo by Henry Anderson.

Henry Anderson, Photojournalist

The 2021-2022 academic year at UWL has concluded. From here, students will take their time with summer vacation and prepare for the upcoming school year. However, not all students will be returning. As people prepare for the next school year, the seniors who graduate will spend their summers preparing to find jobs and venture out into the world. Here at The Racquet, we will be losing two seniors who are very special to us. 

Along with Reporter Julia Wille, Managing Editor Alexia Walz and Executive Editor Maija Sikora will be graduating. These two will be leaving their positions as editors at The Racquet, and students of UWL, to pursue a life outside of school.  

Alexia Walz (she/they) is a communications major, with a media studies emphasis, and a double minor in creative writing and digital media studies and design. “I kind of just threw myself into it and I ended up really liking it,” says Walz. The reason that she, “threw themselves” into it was because communications wasn’t Walz’s first choice.  

As Walz explains, “I transferred here from the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities and was on the track to be in their journalism school. But I ended up only spending a semester there.” She further says, “So, I came back, and I wanted the same degree, but we didn’t have journalism school.” The reason for their minors, Walz describes how she just wanted the experience. “I wanted Adobe and photography experience. I don’t have any intention to go into that, I just thought it would be a cool minor. 

Maija Sikora (she/her), like Walz, is a communications major with a media studies emphasis, but is double minoring in digital media studies and international studies. Also, like Walz, Sikora found herself at UWL looking for something different than what she is doing now. Sikora describes, “I came in as a biology major because I spent a lot of time in high school doing science and medical orientated internships and courses. So, I thought I was going to be a doctor and that is why I came to this school because it was really good for sciences.”

However, Sikora explains how she never quite fell in love with the sciences, adding, “I just got burnt out so fast and I said to myself, ‘I can’t do it.’ So, for a while, I went undetermined.” It got to the point where Sikora considered leaving UWL, but, as she describes, something happened that changed her mind. “I always loved writing,” says Sikora.

Sikora goes on to explain how she first became involved with the Racquet, stating, “I had a roommate who was the sports reporter for The Racquet, and he said that I should join. So, I just came in for an interview and then fell in love with it.” Eventually, Sikora decided to switch gears and she became a communications major because of her love for The Racquet.

Walz had a similar affinity for writing and journalism, which lead them to the Racquet as well. “I somehow wanted to get involved with journalism extra circularly since I had left the University of Minnesota. So, when I transferred to UWL, I just googled student newspaper and I applied.” Suddenly, as Walz describes, she was emailed within two hours about their application, had set up an interview, and found themselves as a member of the Racquet.  

A love for The Racquet is something that is shared between Walz and Sikora. So much so that they even requested to share a single Humans of UWL article, which is somewhat of a rare occurrence. When asked why she wanted to share this spotlight with Alexia, Sikora said, “It just made sense.” Since joining the Racquet in 2019, both Walz and Sikora have risen to positions as head editors. 

“The first strong memory I have of [Walz] was when we were taking the final picture of the year and Sam (a former Racquet member) said, ‘everybody is graduating, it’s just going to be you guys,’ and I said, ‘we’ll make it fun,’” says Sikora. After Sikora’s exclamation, Walz added, “Yeah!” They went on to describe that from the moment that they met, “the vibes were all the same even though we didn’t know each other.”  

As Walz explains, “The reason that I know things and that I know people is because of the Racquet. Most of my relationships have started from the Racquet, which, I think, is really cool.” Walz continues by saying, “The Racquet helped me have a critical mind; it definitely shaped how I viewed the world.” Sikora says, “[The Racquet] turned into being my favorite thing about UWL,” with Walz adding, “I would second that statement.” 

Beyond UWL, both Walz and Sikora have a plan for the path that lies ahead. For Sikora, she describes a potential job out in Maine. “I would be working with kids with mental health disorders and counseling their whole families. It’s a holistic approach to counseling by giving families coping mechanisms and the kids support; it would be amazing,” Sikora describes.  

For Walz, while their plan after school is to stay in La Crosse and continue to work, she talks about doing work similar to the Racquet. “The most ideal next year of my life would be to be able to find freelance writing work,” says Walz. She continues, stating, “I have editing experience here at the Racquet and I have edited for Steam Ticket and The Catalyst, which I have also contributed to. So, I have the resume and I think it would be really cool to do something like that.” 

At the end of their tenure here at The Racquet and UWL, the two editors leave with some advice for incoming students. From Sikora, the advice she gives is: “Get involved. That is the way you become a part of the climate here at UWL, and if you are a part of the climate that is really the only way you can affect it.” Walz, on the other hand, offers the following advice: “I would implore anyone starting out here at UWL to just be themselves and do whatever they want. This is a good time to do that because you are just figuring yourself out. If you have the urge to go against the grain and be a non-conformist, I urge you to do so.