Stephanie Wilmore wears the number 13 on her softball jersey. “It’s my lucky number – nobody else wants it,” she said with a grin, although after a moment it’s clear she doesn’t believe in luck or numerology. She believes in herself, her team and the power of education. “I’m the first person in my family to attend college.”

Wilmore, a high school athlete who excelled in three sports, knew she wanted to play softball in college. She also knew – or thought she knew – she didn’t want to be too far away from her family in Indiana, or attend a women’s college. That all changed after her first visit to Alverno.

After seeing Wilmore play in a high school softball tournament, Alverno’s softball coach Kristen Ortman contacted her for a visit to campus. “I wasn’t interested,” Wilmore said. “I was looking at other schools that were bigger and co-ed, but my dad really wanted me to visit.” Wilmore admittedly had a bad attitude the entire three-and-half-hour drive to campus from her home in Elkhart, Ind. “I thought there was no way I was going to like it, but the moment I got out of the car and was on campus, I knew this was the place for me.” Her father, Terry Wilmore, knew it as well, telling her, “You are going here,” she recalls. Wilmore entered Alverno College in fall 2009 as an Education major.

As a Division III school, Alverno doesn’t offer athletic scholarships. “You play because you love it,” Wilmore said. “It is hours of work each week, but here you are a student-athlete and school comes first.”

Wilmore made the First Team All-Conference in 2012 and 2013, but with few careers for women in athletics, she also knew the most important aspect to college was to get a good education, “I love the way the curriculum is structured. Here they meet the needs of all learners.”

Alverno’s curriculum did not disappoint Wilmore or her father. “The education here is topnotch. I’m so glad I came to Alverno, and I thank my mom and dad all the time for encouraging me to make that first visit.”

Scheduled to graduate December 2013 with a degree in Early Education, Wilmore will begin student teaching kindergarten through second grade in September. “Coming here is a grown-up decision,” she said. “If you want a great education, you come here. You will be challenged, but you will be prepared to succeed.  Here you get so much time practice teaching in the classroom.  I’m ready for it. Alverno’s Education program has a great reputation, which is why its students get placed so quickly.”

In spring 2014, Wilmore will work as an assistant softball coach for the Alverno Inferno, and in fall of 2014, she will enter a master’s program at the College. “It will be something business-related. I’ve set my goals high and want to be prepared.” This time, she didn’t consider attending any other school. “I don’t think I could go anywhere else,” she said. Lucky for her, she doesn’t have to.