Leah Alles

Volleyball player Leah Alles might be one of the best players in USF history, but she isn’t playing around when it comes to the future. She just graduated on May 5, and will be starting a graduate physician assistant program at Midwestern University just as this magazine is arriving in homes.

Alles, a biology major, has always had an interest in science. She chose to pursue biology because she felt there were many options for careers and experiences that would eventually open doors for her. She was also inspired by her father, who was a biology major in college and eventually became an optometrist. His dedication to science and the health care field was an example to Alles, who feels confidently prepared to enter graduate school.

An interest in spending time with and treating her own patients is what initially drew Alles to the P.A. profession, noting that physician assistants typically rank high on the scale in terms of patient satisfaction. Because the values of service, respect and compassion have been instilled in her through USF’s Franciscan values, Alles will make the perfect P.A. candidate.

“The science education I received at USF has inspired me to continue my educational journey and has given me the confidence to pursue a career in the P.A. field. In addition to USF’s exceptional science curriculum and professors, every year, there were new research opportunities and grants to pursue, different upper-level biology electives offered, and events and conferences to attend that enhanced our education,” she said.

Alles has learned one particularly interesting thing. Did you know that we, as human beings, are basically all made up of stardust? Alles says, “Almost 98% of our bodies’ mass is made up of oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, phosphorus and calcium. These elements originated from stars. I always thought it was so cool how God not only created us, but so uniquely connected us to the entire universe.”

Something else she thanks her lucky stars about: The LaVerne & Dorothy Brown Science Hall. The USF science facilities have changed substantially during Alles’ four years at USF, and she feels lucky she had the opportunity to experience and learn in them them– if even just for a semester.

“The new facilities are really inspiring students to do more research, and it has made them excited to attend classes. All the tools you need to excel in your courses are now in a central location, and the faculty makes sure everything you need is available to you,” she said.

When she enters graduate school, Alles won’t have to split her time between homework and volleyball practices any longer but she admits she’s having a hard time accepting the fact that she will no longer play competitive college volleyball. After all, Alles is pretty used to her routine after being team captain and starting Libero for the last two seasons.

Alles was named CCAC Libero of the Year and Mideast Region Libero of the Year in both 2016 and 2017. In 2016, she was also named an NAIA honorable mention All-American after finishing the season that year with 978 digs, which became a school record. After the fall 2017 season, she finished her career with an astounding 2,659 digs, which set the university’s career record.

Even with that kind of athletic success, Alles feels she experienced some of her most shining athletic moments off the court– by way of the wonderful relationships she built with her coaches and teammates.

“I could not have had the success I did in my position without the support of my entire team. I will be forever grateful for how we worked together and encouraged one another.”

In her free time, Alles hopes to continue to get playing time in through summer sand-volleyball leagues and intramurals. Her other hobbies include fishing and reading.

“My dad and I fish for muskies; I love spending hours on the lake, casting and reeling until my hands get sore. I also like to read. My favorite book is Pierced by a Sword by Bud Macfarlane,” she recalled. “I want to mention that my faith, family, and friends have played an enormous role in my success during my college experience and I am very blessed. I am grateful for the constant support of my parents and sisters, the motivation from my head coach Cara Currier, school advisor Lisa Hedrick, the Universtiy Ministry staff, and the love of my close friends and teammates.”