Gustafson Featured on Women Impacting ISU Calendar
AMES, Iowa – Tomorrow afternoon, a member of the Iowa State swimming and diving team will join the ranks of some of the most influential women to ever be a part of Iowa State University. Team captain and senior in environmental science and political science, Alex Gustafson, has been named one of 12 honorees chosen for the 2014 Women Impacting ISU Calendar.
Now in its seventh edition, the Women Impacting ISU Calendar was created as a tribute to female students and staff who reach for higher achievements and leave a lasting legacy on the campus of Iowa State. Among a potential 14,583 female students attending ISU, Gustafson was one of just four selected to be featured on the calendar, the other eight spots belonging to faculty.
While Gustafson is the first swimmer to receive the honor, she joins current Senior Associate AD for Sports Administration Dr. Calli Sanders and 22nd overall pick in the 2007 WNBA draft Lyndsey Medders Fennelly, who were both featured in the inaugural edition, as members of the athletic department to be featured in the calendar.
Having coached Gustafson for four years, Iowa State head swimming coach Duane Sorenson describes his senior leader as an outgoing young person who will succeed in whatever she chooses to do.
“She is a very determined young lady, and she has always set really lofty goals for herself and works hard to go after them,” Sorenson said. “She has done a lot of very amazing things in her long life so far, and is very much an adventurer, an outdoorsperson, and she has a wide variety of interests.”
Though you won’t find her name on the Iowa State record board, she has been a leader among her teammates in every way possible. With her final days in Ames numbered, Gustafson has unarguably left her mark on both her team and the swimming and diving program.
“As a leader, she is very personable, and she really cares about her teammates; she is a very steady influence,” Sorenson said. “Wherever she goes and whatever she does, she will always take up a leadership role; that’s just who she is.”
Throughout her four years of undergraduate studies, Gustafson has successfully balanced the demanding scheduling of a student-athlete while staying active on campus through extra-curricular opportunities. The Cyclone standout served as a teacher’s assistant Dr. Steffen Schmidt’s Political Science 487 class as a sophomore.
Gustafson has also been employed by the Outdoor Recreation Program of Iowa State University since the summer of 2012. While on staff, she has led two trips including a 10-day whitewater canoeing and rafting expedition to Utah and a surfing trip to California.
“It’s been stressful at times, but honestly, what made it possible is a lot of my involvements were releases from normal school and swimming,” Gustafson said. “I have always looked at these involvements as opportunities rather than just things that I have to do.”
As the co-president of The Green Umbrella, Iowa State’s leading student organization for sustainability, Gustafson has had the opportunity to precede a number of iconic female leaders on campus at ISU. Founder and former co-president of The Green Umbrella, Chandra Peterson, and the current advisor of the organization, Merry Rankin, have both been featured on the Women Impacting ISU Calendar.
While she plans to attend graduate school for a degree in marine biology, there are a few other things topping Alex Gustafson’s priority list before she enrolls in more classes, however. The adventurer would like to spend time covering the map and enjoying some much deserved downtime before returning to the classroom.
“First thing, I want to relax a little bit and I really want to travel. I have a few trips planned, one if which is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with my dad,” Gustafson said. “I would also like to do a work share program where I can work on an organic farm abroad; I would love to do that. Those are the dreams, but right now I am really focusing on finding an internship.”
For her endless accomplishments, Alex Gustafson is being recognized as an impactful woman at Iowa State University, but one of the biggest impacts she has had on her teammates is being a role model.
“Back at the beginning of the year, when we were at our team’s camping retreat, I said that my symbol was a lighthouse, and I think that still remains true,” Gustafson said. “I think that I bring a lot of life and light to the team; I can definitely have a cheery demeanor, but I think that I also bring a lot of leadership in and out of the pool. I like to think that I am a good role model; I really like to encourage my teammates, and I just see myself as someone who will always be there. I don’t really change with the waters, kind of like a lighthouse. I stay pretty true to myself, or at least I try to.”
All 12 individuals being featured in the 2014 Women Impacting ISU Calendar will be honored Jan. 15 at 3:30 p.m. in the Sun Room of Iowa State’s Memorial Union. Admission is free and the public is welcome to attend, and 1,000 copies of the calendar will be available to audience members at no charge.