The first college year can be bumpy for anyone. Last year, when things didn’t start out that swell for Lexi Inger ’26, she would take a walk around Lake Andrews as a daily meditation, one that soon included a call to her supportive big brother, Joe Inger ’21.

The morning routine gave her resilience, strength, a kickstart to her day, and a daily dose of joy. 

The timing worked well: Joe was leaving the gym for his job in a drug research lab at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., right around when Inger was hitting Lake Andrews in search of peace and solace.

Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College
Last year, Lexi Inger ’26 reached out to her older brother, Joe Inger ‘21, for a pep talk. The pick-me-up phone call turned into a regular routine. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

It helped talking with a sibling who understood her insecurities and drive for success. Joe shared many of the same traits while navigating his undergraduate years at Bates. The 20-minute-or-so chats reminded Inger that she was stronger than she thought; reassured her that things would work out. It gave her hope.

“He was my rock,” she said.  

What It Took

This story is the first in a series of profiles on Bates people exploring where some among us find strength and determination. What are the skills, talents, and strategies our fellow Bobcats utilize to help double down when the road gets rough? What are their inspirations?

To deal with disappointment early in college, Lexi Inger chose to begin each day with a meditation centered on friendship and family. Those were good instincts. The daily lift from a sibling who knew her better than anyone helped her thrive. We should all be so lucky to have a Joe in our lives, a trusted friend we can call whenever needed; a touchstone who helps restore our faith in our abilities and our heart.

“I think I thought college would be an easier transition,” Inger said. “I had a very close group of friends in high school and Yarmouth was a graduating class of maybe 130. It was a big difference.” She thought she’d have instant friends in her residence. “Movies show it that way. And when I didn’t have that, I was kind of stuck.”

Inger’s oldest brother, Jake, is seven years older; Joe is five. She and Joe are much alike. Joe rowed in high school and at Bates; Lexi ran track in high school and belongs to the Bates running club. Both joined a cappella clubs at Bates. Both chose bio-chem as their undergraduate major with a desire to pursue a career in medicine. 

“We’ve always been close. We’re similar. And so he kind of became this big support person for me. Even though his experiences were different, I felt connected to him,” Inger said.

After her 8 a.m. class three days a week, Inger went to the Puddle to walk and call Joe. She lived in Page Hall, so it was right there. Most days they talked for only 15 minutes. Lexi Inger appreciated how her brother wouldn’t “sugar coat” his experience at Bates. When he spoke of how he struggled through some classes, he gave it to her straight. 

Lexi and Joe enjoy a meal out with family in Portland in June 2022. (Photo courtesy of David Inger)

Just hearing the stories gave her confidence, the fact he lived through the same journey in the same place, and ended up better for it.

“I had moments where I was stressed about chem or I was stressed about other classes. It was really nice to hear his stories about it,” Lexi Inger said. “He’s very aware of what’s going on in my life. He’s very empathetic.”

Joe Inger, now in his first year at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, said Bates made living through times of doubt and disappointment easier, because no matter what was going on, he felt a part of a community. He encouraged his sister to join and explore different groups at Bates, as he had. 

Lexi Inger ’26 talks to her brother, Joe Inger ’21, during her daily walk around the Puddle on the afternoon of Sept. 28. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

“The community kept growing and growing. I’d leave my (residence hall) at 4 a.m. and not get home until midnight,” Joe Inger said. 

He also shared with his sister the lessons he learned at Bates: like being open to change, and embracing tough times for the lessons they would hold. 

“I told her some people in your life are there for the rest of your life and others will come and go. Allowing things to change is always a good idea,” Joe Inger said. “The big thing I tried to give her was the idea, and I know it’s hard, but that if a situation is horrible, you can learn from it.”

Lexi Inger followed her brother’s advice. After joining the running club and an a cappella group last year, she looked for ways to become more involved with the Lewiston community.

When she took an education course that placed her in a Lewiston middle school to shadow the instructor, it opened her eyes to the communities, in particular the communities of new Mainers, just beyond campus. That led Inger to join the books buddies program through the Harward Center for Community Partnerships, where she read to students who are learning English at Connors Elementary School. 

“I have said this to my parents, I have said this to my friends, taking that class was one of the best decisions I’ve made at Bates,” Inger said.

This summer, while working in Admissions as a tour guide 40 hours a week, Inger found a program at Lewiston Library that helps adults and high school students learn to read better. She also volunteered at Lewiston’s Jubilee Center every Saturday morning, helping people in need of food, housing, and career counseling. 

Lexi shares stories from her second year at Bates with Joe, since he understands all too well. “Even though his experiences were different, I felt connected to him.” (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

“I am working right now in a classroom in Lewiston High School and for all of the students, English is not their first language,” Lexi Inger said. “I was there this morning while the teacher had to Google translate almost everything. Most of the students spoke Portuguese. Another teacher I work with expects them to learn English. Wow, that’s so stressful.”

As for all the problem-solving strategies she learned from her brother, Inger found ways to share them with her classmates, and even on the campus tours she gave. 

“Joe is one of the topics I actually bring up on my tour. I think that Joe’s advice and guidance has helped me offer advice to prospective students and my peers with honesty and empathy,” Inger said. 

As it happens, the siblings’ daily talks also helped Joe Inger. He said talking with his sister the past year, reliving his own struggles, disappointments, and successes in college, helped crystalize for him just how Bates kept him grounded, having people around him to learn from.

“It was really nice to have someone to go over what happened in my life and to think about how things went. It was a kind of therapy. I loved it,” Joe Inger said. “Bates was an amazing experience. Even the struggles taught me a lot.”

Last weekend, Lexi Inger went down to visit her brother at his white-coat ceremony at Brown when he pledged his commitment to medicine and to advocate for patients. Some of Joe’s friends thought Lexi was his older sister. 

“She’s very smart and very intellectual. She can hold a conversation like no other. It was really fun to see her now as an adult who’s getting an amazing education and talking with other people about whatever. That was really fun,” Joe Inger said.