Taking the Reins

Alexis “Lexi” Mandarakas ’11

Lexi Mandarakas '11Hometown: Bluffton, South Carolina

Major: Psychology

Favorite traditions: Pumpkin Parade and Ring Week

VIDEO:  Meet Lexi


Alexis “Lexi” Mandarakas ’11 came to Randolph College impressed by the riding program and intent on pursuing a dentistry career. It was not until she took a psychology course and had a conversation her sophomore year with Randolph professor Beth Schwartz that her life took an unexpected turn. “I just felt completely lost,” Mandarakas said. “I thought I had to immediately pick a major, so I just chose biology thinking I wanted to be a dentist. But it just wasn’t what I wanted.”

Schwartz encouraged Mandarakas to try something new and reassured her that what she was feeling was normal. “If I could change one person’s life the way she changed mine, I would know I had gotten somewhere in life,” Mandarakas said.

Mandarakas changed her major to psychology and found a subject she liked almost as much as horses. She plans to pursue a job in industrial and organizational psychology and eventually wants to teach at the collegiate level—like her mentor Schwartz.

She and another student, Carl Coffey ’11, already had a taste of the psychology world at a national psychology conference in California. During August, they were the only undergraduates to present there. “It’s easy to take for granted what we have,” Mandarakas said. “When you go out in the real world, you realize the experiences you are getting here are ones that other people only dream of.”

She has been equally impressed by the caliber of Randolph’s riding program. Mandarakas, who is from South Carolina, began riding horses when she was 4 years old. Even so, adjusting to the level of competition required of Randolph’s riders was challenging. She credited Randolph coach J.T. Tallon with making it easier. “We’re prepared for it when we get into the ring. He makes sure of that.”

Mandarakas, who was also selected to attend the Davenport Leadership Institute last summer, is graduating with a greater appreciation of Randolph’s academic program and its close community.

“I’ve been put to the test, not just in my sport, but in academics,” she said. “And I’m going to have the relationships I formed here for the rest of my life. I know I can always come back, and it will be like coming home. This has been my family for the past four years, but it’s time to move on and take what I’ve been taught and go live the rest of my life.”