Alexia “Ally” Bevers faced a childhood filled with many obstacles. But the one thing that was always a constant was school.
For Bevers, school was her safe haven. It was where she thrived. It was the one place where everything was normal.
“I could just go to school and that was like my place,” said Bevers, now a senior at Western Carolina University. “For me, school was normal and I was normal at school. I didn’t have to think about what was going on at home. It gave me something to distract myself. It was something I was good at.
What was going on at home was not normal. By the time Bevers was in the ninth grade, both her mom had become addicted to prescription pills. Her brother, older by 17 months, would follow the same path.
Her mom was charged with three driving-under-the-influence offenses in four months, and was subsequently sent to jail, forcing Bevers to live with her dad. Over the course of her life, Bevers said she moved about 16 times across Habersham County, Georgia.
But at school, Bevers excelled. Making good grades is what gave her a sense of accomplishment.
“I’m very much a proponent of having an internal locus of control, believing that I affect the outcome of where I end up,” Bevers said. “A lot of people have a victim mindset, like they were dealt a bad hand, or if this would have happened they’d be successful. I just don’t accept that. I don’t want to live like that because I’m not going to.”
Jill Granger, dean of the Honors College, said despite Bevers’ background, she has become a model student at WCU.
“Ally is a very outgoing person who enjoys school,” Granger said. “Her faculty (in the College of Business) love her.”
Life in Cullowhee hasn’t been without its challenges. During her freshman year, Bevers missed the deadline to apply for scholarships, leaving her to bear the full burden of out-of-state tuition costs. If that wasn’t enough, her roommate, Kelsey Richardson, was killed in a car accident in Arizona. That same week, her uncle died from an overdose.
Still, Bevers persevered.
Bevers now receives the Jack and Judy Brinson Honors College Annual Scholarship and the Ben and Carolyn Phillips Honors College Scholarship to help with her costs. Bevers also works three jobs – as a tutor, an academic skills consultant and an independent contractor for the Foundation for Economic Education, based in Atlanta where she interned last summer.
She still finds time to serve as vice president of the Honors College Board of Directors, where she also is the mentoring committee co-chairman.
For Bevers, WCU has become a place where she can focus on her future and not have to be reminded of her past.
“In high school, everyone just thought I did drugs or partied, because my brother did,” Bevers said. “Or once people found out my parents got divorced, or my mom got arrested, they had a different perception of me. Since I’ve been here, it’s been kind of easy to re-create my persona. People are a lot more accepting of me.
“I’m going to do what I have to do to get where I want to be. Being in college and having the grades that I do, I think once I am done with it, it’ll much more gratifying when I’m not in the middle of it. I’m definitely proud that I’ve ended up where I have so far.”
Upon graduation, Bevers hopes to one day become a CFO of an organization. In the meantime, her mom is clean and resides in Florida. Her brother has a 2-year-old daughter whom Bevers adores.
“It’s been really nice to see the restoration that has happened with my family,” Bevers said. “Now, my mom is one of my best friends. Even my brother, we used to fight like cats and dogs and beat each other up when we were kids. But him having my niece really brought us closer together.
“My mom apologizes all the time. She’s like, ‘I’m sorry for not being the mother, but you make me feel like the luckiest mom in the world,’ I’m like, ‘Mom, you don’t have to apologize anymore. Let’s just get over it and get past it.’ It’s been really good to see her be sober and be who I remember her to be when I was a kid.”