Lindsay Stevens has overcome a career-ending concussion by creating her own major and using internship opportunities to find her passions.
It was a split-second decision. Walking up to the security guards in Madison Square Garden, Lindsay Stevens put on her best impression of a flustered reporter who had lost her press credentials. Shortly after, she found herself cordially escorted into the Fashion Week show. She boldly walked on the red carpet and seized the moment to pose for a photo.
Recalling the evening, Stevens is all smiles.
“The red-carpet story takes the cake,” Stevens said, whose blond hair was tucked behind her ears as she sat cross-legged and sipped iced coffee, sharing experiences from her fall internship with ELLE Décor magazine in New York City.
Stevens chose University of Richmond because of its top-20 field hockey program. She started playing as a freshman in high school in San Diego, California. Her talent and love of the sport developed quickly, and it soon became her goal to play for the United States national team.
“She was always very free-spirited and hardworking, always trying to be better,” senior Emma Johansson, a close friend and teammate, said. “She is definitely her own person, and I’ve always loved that about her.”
But Stevens suffered a severe concussion during practice the spring of her sophomore year, and it dramatically changed Stevens' path. She found herself confined to a dark dorm room for almost two months, unable to attend classes or practice. Although she tried to return to field hockey, she said it wasn’t the same. The summer before her junior year, she made the difficult decision to quit the team.
“I had let go of this dream to play for U.S., which was absolutely devastating because I had based so much of my identity on this sport,” Stevens said. “This path that I was supposed to be on isn’t my path anymore, so now which path am I going to take?”
Faced with the prospect of student loans since her athletic scholarship had been revoked, Stevens said she had planned to transfer. But her self-created Interdisciplinary Studies major, “strategic marketing and communications,” meant that most schools wouldn’t take a large portion of her credits. Working closely with her academic adviser and self-proclaimed “life mentor,” professor Scott Johnson, Stevens devised a plan that would allow her to graduate on time and save money, while also giving her the opportunity to get out of her comfort zone, something she has always loved doing.
“Lindsay is a wonderful combination of things,” Johnson said. “She is part light-hearted, free Californian, part intense-and-engaged student, and part utter creative energy.”
Stevens took her senior fall semester off and pursued the internship with ELLE Décor. Richmond has a policy that requires students to take their last eight credits on-campus, but after many conversations and extensive paperwork, Stevens gained approval.
“It ended up being the crux of my college experience,” Stevens said, “the place where I realized my real passions and how those aligned with my self-designed major.”
Back on campus for her final semester, Stevens is taking a full course load while working on her senior thesis — merging her passions for art, writing, marketing and the outdoors to create a marketing plan for her own dream business, called Roam Supply Company, which she hopes to launch one day.
She is currently applying to a wide variety of jobs in hopes of doing marketing for a major company such as Google or REI. But Stevens isn’t giving up on her dreams to travel the world as a National Geographic photographer or to create her own business.
“If I had been closed-minded through any part of my college experience, I wouldn’t have had the experience that I have had,” Stevens said. “I am very open to going wherever life takes me if I’m passionate about it.”
Contact writer Rachel Bringewatt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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