‘My life, my home, my soul is really at Western’

The health and wellness of student-athletes is near and dear to Western donor Alexis Peters, who has graciously left a gift to Western in her Will to champion the cause.

By Mary Lou Reeleder

Alexis Peters

The bookshelves in Alexis Peters’ (BA’90, MA’92, PhD’99) home office in Bragg Creek, a small town west of Calgary, are chock-full with student mementos from more than 20 years of teaching at Mount Royal University. 

Alexis is near tears as she recites the words written by students in support of a teaching excellence award, which holds a place of pride. “Alexis is making the world a better place through her efforts in and out of the class,” she reads.  

“So many students have touched my heart in ways you can’t imagine,” Alexis comments. “Sometimes you don’t think you are making a difference, and then all of a sudden, you discover you do.” 

Alexis became a university lecturer after earning a PhD at Western. She enrolled at Western when she was forced to abandon a 10-year nursing career following an injury. Working in London and needing to retrain, Alexis enrolled in one psychology course at the university. Discovering a passion for learning, she stayed and obtained a BA and MA in Sociology. 

Her doctorate research in Kinesiology examined the positive and negative impacts of the culture surrounding men’s elite hockey. Alexis says her research – inspired by what she observed through a personal connection to the sport – found that aspects of hockey culture, such as being expected to play through the pain and take abuse from fans and coaches, could possibly put players at higher risk of learning "toxic masculine" attitudes that could affect their health and well-being in many ways. 

Alexis says it was a controversial topic, and during the seven years it took to complete her PhD she received unwavering support from Western, especially from her PhD supervisor Dr. Bob Barney. It’s something she has never forgotten and why she is naming Western as a beneficiary in her Will. “My life, my home, my soul is really at Western,” says Alexis. 

Despite her research, Alexis, who once aspired to teach physical education, continues to believe in the positive influence of sport. “Athletes gain life skills such as resiliency and time management, and an appreciation for the value of the pursuit of excellence through hard work,” she states. 

One of the photos on display in her home office shows Alexis with a student-athlete who just won a bronze medal in soccer, after a disappointing gold medal game loss.  “The loss was a reminder of the pressures student-athletes face”, says Alexis, who is supportive of student-athletes. “They are expected to keep up with their studies, practice to play at the top of their game, and, in many cases, help cover team expenses.” 

With that in mind, Alexis decided to support student-athletes and research in health and well-being through her Will by working with the Legacy Gift Planning team at Western. She also established a current award for student-athletes, named the Dr. Alexis N Peters Award for Student Athletes, which was first awarded in the fall of 2021. 

“Helping students, in particular student-athletes, is my legacy,” Alexis says. “I have no second thoughts.”