Alexus Laird was a regular at the IUPUI Natatorium: double practices twice a week, regular practices on other days and weekend competitions. But it’s not the only place she competed in backstroke and freestyle. The accounting and finance grad swam in the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) World Swimming Championship in Doha, Qatar, a five-day competition of the world’s fastest swimmers. Laird placed top 40 in the 200 backstroke and set individual national records in four events and three relays while representing the Seychelles National Team. She has dual citizenship in the African island nation where her mother was born and raised.
“It was an honor to be able to represent a country at that level of competition,” says Laird. “Having that opportunity really empowered me.”
Laird’s ambition in the pool doesn’t end there. She became the first IUPUI student swimmer to earn a “b-cut” to qualify for NCAA championships, and she swam in the Indian Ocean Games during summer 2015.
“Following that meet are the World Championships,” she says. “I hope to use that meet to qualify for the Rio Olympics in 2016.”
The road to Rio for this Kokomo, Ind. native must account for her professional career ambitions as well as her swimming goals.
“I have big dreams out of the pool as well. I put my heart into my Kelley studies and look forward to sitting for the CPA exam,” says Laird. Laird’s interest in accounting was inspired by Kelley faculty member.
“Lori Tindall inspired me to get involved in accounting,” says Laird. “She sat down with me several times to let me know how to get involved in the Kelley School, how to really make an impact, and how to stretch my experience. She really helped me succeed, and I found a love for accounting in her classes.”
Laird says while accounting is a challenging field, she discovered that it’s her passion. Her goal is to put as much of her heart into accounting as she does the pool. Laird’s hard work paid off. She was named among the 2014 IUPUI Top 100 Outstanding Students, an honor that inspired her to do even more.
“After that, I realized that I really wanted to be involved in the Kelley School to the same level that I was involved in athletics,” says Laird. “That’s why I joined Delta Sigma Pi professional business fraternity and became more involved in the Accounting Association.”
Laird believes the busier she was as a student-athlete, the more she accomplished.
“If you want to do something, you’re going to find the time to do it,” she says.
Swimming and business studies aren’t all that different when it comes to what it takes to succeed, says Laird. Confidence goes a long way in the pool—and in the classroom.
“I believe taking an exam is 80 percent mental,” she says. “You can know a lot about a subject, but when it comes to an exam, you need to be confident in your abilities. It’s the same in swimming. You could be the best swimmer with the best training, but if you don’t go into the race with confidence, it will all fall apart. Being determined day in and day out is what really helps you succeed.”
Laird says being an athlete as well as an involved Kelley School student gave her the confidence to recognize that she’s not only a smart young woman, but also a confident and determined person who will make an impact in the world.
“After leaving IUPUI, one of the big things for me is to really make my mark,” she says. “I want to be known for who I was and really show everyone what it is to be a Kelley student and an athlete at the same time.”