For most students, the start of a college semester is a time filled with emotions—excitement, relief, and maybe a little bit of anxiety. For the family of recent Lubbock Christian University graduate Alexis Wright (‘24), however, the start of her senior year felt a little bit different than it normally would, filled instead with a healthy dose of fear and uncertainty—but also, perhaps surprisingly, with peace.

Alexis, a native of Houston, came to LCU when she was visiting other area colleges in her school search.

“I was looking at different schools in Texas, and I knew I was going to come to look at Texas Tech,” she recalled, “When I toured there, I immediately knew Tech wasn’t for me. It was exactly like my high school, but somehow even bigger, which was my worst nightmare. Then, my dad encouraged me to go look at LCU, and I knew right off the bat that it was much more my pace.”

After meeting a few professors and staff, she knew that LCU was where she wanted to call home for the next four years, and that fall, Alexis began her college career as a Chaparral. She dove into both her studies as a Humanities major and the thriving campus community. She was a member of Kappa Phi Kappa social club and participated in Master Follies each of her four years on campus, and she also became involved in Student Senate. Alexis also spent a semester studying in Ávila, Spain, through LCU’s Global Campus semester abroad program.

As she approached her final year at LCU, she was working at a summer camp for elementary and middle school students outside of Austin. Late in the summer on August 5, she began to experience breathing trouble.

“I have severe asthma, so I've had issues like this before where I’ll have a flare up and have to go to urgent care. They'll give me steroid breathing treatments, and then I'll go home—and that's it,” she explained. “I wasn't really nervous or scared at first—this was routine, just a flare up.”

When she arrived at the hospital, Alexis’s O2 stat was dangerously low, and the doctors knew it was more severe than she’d expected. “I was taking a lot of breaths,” she recalled, “and I had already maxed out on the breathing treatments. They explained that I couldn't have any more because my heart rate was already high from the medication, and the urgent care physician told me that I needed to go to the hospital to stay overnight for monitoring—more serious, but still not a massive deal.”

Of course, the next morning at camp was scheduled to be one of Alexis’s favorite parts, zip lining, and she was anxious to get back to her campers. “I was like, ‘Okay, listen—if I'm going to the hospital, you have to make sure that I’m out in the morning because we have ziplining, and I have to lifeguard, and I have to be a counselor—I really don't have time for this.’ I was trying to negotiate to make it all as quick as possible,” she recalled with a chuckle, clearly having underestimated the gravity of her situation.

What happened next was all a blur, as Alexis was moved to the local hospital. “I remember being downstairs in an emergency-style room,” she recalled, “and then they gave me some really crazy painkillers before taking me upstairs to my own room where I was going to stay the night. My mom drove up from Houston, and another family friend was with us at the hospital. But overnight, I kept getting worse and worse, to the point that they started me on a CPAP machine—and soon even that wasn't enough.”

Early in the morning, the doctors came and spoke to Alexis and her mother, Kristi, and informed them that they needed to intubate her to make sure she could get enough oxygen. In order to intubate, however, the patient must be put into a medically induced coma because the human body naturally fights against the procedure. Realizing the severity of the situation, Alexis’s mother called her father to join them, and shortly after, Alexis was put into a coma.

The hospital in which she’d been receiving care to this point was not the family’s first choice, being a smaller town hospital that lacked some of the resources and staff available at a larger medical center, and they had strong connections with a doctor at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. They decided that a transfer was their best option.

“The doctors told my parents, ‘Okay, the helicopter is here, and we can transfer her—but if you want to transfer, you have transfer right now.’ So, they transferred me to UTMB in Galveston, which was also closer to home, and because of our connections there, they already had a room waiting for me when I got there.”

The next twelve days were excruciatingly long for her family, as her father, Brett, joined them in Galveston—mostly, all they could do was wait for Alexis’s condition—acute asthma exacerbation complicated by pneumonia—to improve, and there were times when it looked like she might not. For Alexis herself, however, it was nothing more than a long, deep sleep. “I didn’t know anything that was happening,” she recalled.

Even so, back in Lubbock as the LCU community began to gear up for another school year, Alexis’s classmates, professors, and friends organized prayer vigils and continued to reach out to her family to offer help and encouragement in any way they could.

"We appreciated all the thoughts, prayers and encouragement that was given to us while Alexis was in the hospital,” Kristi and Brett shared. “We felt the power of prayer during this time, and it was so overwhelming the love we felt from the LCU family."

And slowly, Alexis’ lungs began to heal. One week turned into a second, and finally, twelve full days after she had been put into a coma, the doctors determined that Alexis had healed enough to begin waking her up.

“They finally began to wean me off the medicine because I was getting better, and finally they extubated me,” she recalled. “They asked me, ‘Do you know where you are?’ And I was like, ‘Not other than in the hospital.’ They explained, ‘Well, you're in Galveston because we had to fly you down. Do you know how many days it's been?’ And I had no idea that it had been 12 days.”

For the first 24 hours after being extubated, patients aren’t supposed to talk, the doctors and nurses informed Alexis and her family. “I told them, ‘Anyone who knows me knows that’s not going to happen,’” she added with a laugh. Over the next handful of days her condition steadily improved, and finally, after nearly three weeks in the hospital, Alexis was discharged to go home, albeit with a long road of recovery ahead of her.

“I had to do outpatient rehab,” she explained. “I was supposed to have six-to-eight weeks of rehab, but I did two-and-a-half weeks before I came back to Lubbock. When I tried to get into a rehab facility here,” she continued, “I did one session with them, and after that they cleared me to go—I was ready to rock.”

Of course, one of the complications of her unexpected illness was that her stay in the hospital overlapped with the start of her final year at LCU. The difficulties posed by a late start to the academic year combined with the continued recovery effort needed beyond rehab were cause enough for her doctors to pause. They, and many around her, urged Alexis to take a semester off from college, and then come back and finish one semester late—an idea that she immediately and repeatedly shot down. Thankfully, however, she had built strong relationships across campus with individuals like Josh Stephens, Dean of Students, and her professors in the Department of Humanities—and it would be those relationships that would pave the way for her success.

“I was talking to Josh a lot,” she explained. “I was in communication with the university because I was adamant that I would be coming back for the semester. I told them, ‘Just please don’t kick me out of my apartment, and put a hold on my schedule—what do I need to do?’ I emailed a bunch of my professors, and I did end up dropping one lab class because it was just going to be too much, but I ended up taking 12 hours.”

Each of the classes she ended up taking were within the Department of Humanities, and each of her professors—Dr. Kregg Fehr, Dr. Keith Owen, Dr. Tim Byars, and Dr. Carole Carroll—worked with her to ensure she had the tools for success, even for such arduous courses as her senior research and presentation.

“They were all so helpful—I wouldn’t have been able to do it without their help,” she emphasized. “I still had to work hard, but they also knew that some things were going to be tough for me, and they made them doable.”

“It is so amazing that Alexis is at a school that cares and was willing to work with her,” Kristi emphasized. “We appreciated all the prayers, love, and support and are so excited for this next chapter for her! We are so grateful to Lubbock Christian University for being so supportive of us during this time.”

In the end, Alexis passed each of those classes, and then took 18 hours of courses in the spring to make up for the lighter load from the fall. Even as she underwent the final push to graduation in May, she could still feel the effects of her medical ordeal.

“I’m just really tired all the time,” she explained. “I was still trying to be normal and do all the things that made college so great, but I was still so weak—the fall semester was a struggle. The spring semester was better,” she added gratefully, but she admitted that fatigue is still a major factor.

Even so, as graduation approached, Alexis was empathically and rightly proud of herself. “This is something I will always brag about,” she explained. “Graduating from college, against all odds, with people telling me that I really wasn't supposed to. Of course, there were obviously people that were supportive,” she added, again referencing the outpouring of love from her college community.

“I always shout out Jana and Rob Anderson from my time studying abroad because I always say that they were my parents for those three months,” she shared recalling her semester in Spain. “They took me in, and it was such a fun experience. The community of LCU and the people in this place are just so special,” she emphasized.

Like the start of a semester, the end of a college journey brings with it a mix of emotions both positive and negative, as Alexis shared.

“It's so hard to think that this chapter is closing, because it's just such a great place for so many great people. If it weren't for Josh Stephens and Randal Dement, so many others in administration, and especially the whole Humanities department, I wouldn't be able to say that I graduated in May.”

Alexis plans to pursue a career in marketing and communications, along the same lines as an extended internship she completed over two separate summers.

“I'm just proud, excited, and overwhelmed,” she added, “but also sad, because now that I'm thinking about it all, I'm like, ‘Wait, I could stay one more semester. . .’ I don't want to leave,” she admitted. “But I'm also excited to be going on and prove a point to show that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want—you just have to try.