HAMMOND | Three reasons factored into Alexandria Starr’s decision to attend Purdue University Calumet: opportunities to get a Purdue education, take advantage of Chicago proximity and continue her basketball career..
Four years later, mission accomplished for the Plymouth resident.
Starr, 22, is graduating after a storied athletic career in which she earned NAIA All-America honorable mention basketball honors this past season, helping lead Purdue Calumet to national prominence.
The Purdue degree she will receive Sunday in biological sciences has prepared her to enter optometry school this fall.
“Ever since I got my first set of glasses when I was 10, I’ve wanted to be an eye doctor,” she said.
As for Chicago proximity, “I have definitely taken advantage of being so close,” she said. “I love shopping in the city, and when I have had free evenings, my friends and I have loved going out to eat and to the clubs downtown.”
Throughout her four-year Purdue Calumet stay, she also has been active in Student Government, has presided over the university’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee and served on the campus’ National Residence Hall Honorary.
Following her freshman year, she was one of 12 student athletes from among 400 applicants to be selected to participate in the American Red Cross National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Leadership Program in Washington, D.C. The experience motivated her to help the university’s Wellness staff promote and coordinate Red Cross blood drives on campus.
“One of our drives produced 300 units; that’s a potential 1,000 lives saved,” she said. “I tried to make the drive a competition; a lot of my athlete friends participated. We distributed T-shirts; I see them around campus. It just shows that people want to make a difference.”
Making a difference is indeed what Starr did on the basketball court. The sharp shooting guard was the top scorer (16.4 points per game) this past season for the 21-10 Peregrines, the 20th ranked team nationally in the National Association of the Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II. Just the fifth player in Purdue Calumet women’s basketball history to surpass the 1,500-point career scoring milestone, she also will leave the Hammond campus as a two-time All-Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference selection.
“Alex has been an outstanding asset to our university and basketball team,” her coach, Tom Megyesi, said. “She is a tireless worker who always went the extra mile to improve as a basketball player and as a student. She volunteered for numerous extracurricular activities on campus and has represented Purdue Calumet with pride.”
The feeling is mutual.
“Coach Meg was like a father figure to us,” she said. “He was always looking out for us, and he was very positive.”
Others on campus also took notice of her.
“I first met Alex as a student in my physics course,” Professor Daniel Suson said. “She impressed me then with her determination and dedication to master the material. After the class we continued to meet each other around campus. It was great to hear how her classes were going and to see her progressing toward her goals. Alex has been one of those students who excels regardless of what she does.”
Looking back on her Purdue Calumet experience overall, the daughter of two dentists said, “I’m going to miss the people and friendships. I think what it takes to be successful is to really get involved, and I have been able to do that. I’ve loved it here—everything about Purdue Calumet.”