Commencement Feature: Alexis Wilcox is continuing family legacies

Alexis Wilcox is continuing not just one, but two family legacies as she graduates UCCS.

Not only did both of Alexis’s parents graduate from UCCS, her grandfather, Kirk Wilcox, teaches in the College of Business (COB). He came to UCCS in 1972 and started the accounting department in the COB, and is now Professor Emeritus. Kirk will also be handing Alexis her diploma at Commencement, continuing a tradition he started with Alexis’s parents – his son, Kirk, and Alexis’s mom, Tracy.

“I officially retired back in 2010, but they keep inviting me back each semester to teach at least one graduate course,” Kirk said. “I still really enjoy being in the classroom with students.”

Alexis is also following in her grandfather and mother’s footsteps by becoming a teacher as well.

Kirk Wilcox, Alexis’s grandfather and College of Business faculty

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, because it always felt natural, but having my mom be a teacher has been really helpful in seeing what it was like,” said Alexis.

Though Alexis hasn’t technically graduated yet, she’s already teaching full-time as part of her coursework, getting familiar working in the classroom and looking forward to fully starting her teaching career.

“Last semester it was Wednesdays and Thursdays teaching in the classroom, and then I still had some classes. This semester is full-time teaching, with just a couple of seminars and online work that you have to do,” Alexis explained. “I’m excited, and it’s kind of nerve-wracking, because I feel like these four years I’ve been in school for so long and now it’s actually over. But I’m excited to get my own classroom and start.”

Alexis is currently teaching the second grade as she finishes university, having taught kindergarten the previous semester. She’s also teaching a girls youth volleyball team in her spare time. Once she graduates she’s excited to go back to teaching kindergarten, this time in District 49.

“I love working with the babies. There’s just something about teaching them not only academics, but how to zip up their jackets and tie their shoes and how to be a human. I love it,” Alexis said.

While working as an elementary teacher comes with its challenges, such as helping her second graders adjust to having her as their new teacher, Alexis said it can be very rewarding as well.

Alexis with her dog

“The prior teacher left, and they’re like ‘you’re not our teacher. We love our old teacher.’ They don’t understand the reasons why she’s leaving. That was definitely hard. I’m just this new teacher trying to make the best of it, you know? That was a challenge. It took an adjustment period, but they’ve come so far from then, and how fragile they were to how strong they’ve become, it’s been amazing to see.”

Alexis noted how her College of Education program and support from faculty, friends and family has made a difference in preparing her for her career.

“It’s really shown me how student teaching is different from professional teaching because there’s so much more grading and there’s much more to it than before,” said Alexis.

“My UCCS supervisor, Paula Williams, and my Widefield District Three supervisor, Holly Hulen, have just been amazing. Holly has been the best mentor to me and has shaped me so much, and with the transition going from kindergarten to second, she was just so helpful. And my family, they’ve been really supportive and helpful, so it’s been great.”

Along with her bachelor’s in Inclusive Elementary Education, Alexis is preparing to take her Special Education Certification test and will graduate with the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education Endorsement.

Kirk Wilcox, Alexis’s grandfather and COB professor, handing Tracy, Alexis’s mom, her diploma at the 1997 Commencement

“The UCCS program has really prepared us for the diverse and different students that we are going to work with, they’ve really prepared us to be able to work with everyone.”

Though she’ll be living with some of her UCCS friends after graduation, those that she won’t see as often are one of the parts from her time at school that Alexis will miss the most, along with school itself.

“Learning and my friends are probably my top two. I just love being in school, and I love learning and always have. I’ll miss that learning and the friends that I’ve made who are moving away,” said Alexis.

“Try to make as many genuine friends as you can,” Alexis emphasized. “I have a few good friends from UCCS and they truly have gotten me through it. There were times I had no motivation to do my classwork and my friends would say ‘go write at your paper’,” Alexis laughed.

With her love of learning, Alexis plans to return to school eventually after she teaches for a few years to see what concentration she’d like to pursue.

“I want to get a couple of years under my belt. I eventually want to get my master’s, and maybe my PhD and follow my grandpa’s route. So eventually going back to school. I’m just trying to get a feel for it within the first few years, and then I’ll definitely go back for my master’s.”

About the UCCS College of Education

The College of Education offers undergraduate and advanced degrees, initial and advanced licenses and additional endorsements across three departments: Teaching and Learning, Counseling and Human Services and Leadership, Research, and Foundations. The college is home to more than 1,000 students and offers 12 bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and doctoral degrees. It is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs (CACREP). Learn more about the College of Education at UCCS.