Staff Spotlight: Anne Whitney

Anne Whitney, a recent graduate of Columbia University, worked as a tutor in The Bridge Golf Foundation’s summer program. She plans to spend the next year working in the nonprofit sector before attending Harvard Law School in the fall of 2020. She recently fielded some questions from Charlie Hanger,  digital content manager for The Bridge Golf Foundation.

Anne Whitney working with Avion Phillip, a rising junior at the Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem.

Anne Whitney working with Avion Phillip, a rising junior at the Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem.

CH: Tell us a little about yourself.

AW: Even though I love the Big Apple, I’m quite the Tar Heel at heart. I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, and spent my summers in the eastern part of the state attending camp and eventually returning to work as a counselor and sailing instructor. When I’m not at work or hitting the books, I love to cook, spend time by the water, paint, and explore as many New York neighborhoods as possible!

CH: How did you end up in New York?

AW: After high school, I took a little leap of faith and way too much luggage and moved across the ocean to start college in France as part of the dual BA program between Columbia University and Sciences Po (the commonly used name for L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris). I lived there and studied Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies for two years before returning to Columbia, where I majored in Human Rights.

CH: What made you choose Columbia for college?

AW: I knew I wanted a college experience with a strong international component, and I loved getting to integrate directly into the community and classrooms of a foreign university for two entire years.

CH: What’s next now that you’ve graduated?

AW: I’ll be attending Harvard Law School and decided to defer to gain experience working in the non-profit sector — the sector in which I hope to ultimately practice law — and continue studying Arabic, French, and Spanish.

CH: What drew you to law school in general and Harvard in particular?

AW: I did not expect to pursue a legal career and certainly did not intend to when I began college, but as I developed an interest in immigration and gained experience in the field, I realized that law is a powerful tool for advocacy. The chance to advocate for clients on an interpersonal level and build relationships through casework drew me to the field. I hope to join one of Harvard’s immigration clinics and take its Spanish for Public Interest Law class to learn legal jargon and how to work with clients in their own language rather than through an interpreter.

CH: It looks like you’ve had a lot of interesting jobs and internships. Is there one that’s been the most meaningful, or that’s influenced your current career path more than others?

AW: Either working as a case manager at the summer camp I grew up attending or volunteering at a refugee camp in Greece. Those were wildly different experiences that both confirmed to me that I like working in situations where I can get to know people and help direct them to the resources they need.

CH: In addition to your degree from Columbia and plans to attend Harvard Law, you’re a certified bartender. Tell us about your work experience in that arena.

AW: Yes! I took a course with the Columbia Bartending Agency and worked at events in and around New York. Lots of great people watching. Jon Stewart was at one of the parties I worked!

CH: You seem to have a love of languages. Do they come easily to you?

AW: Not really, honestly, but I love to work at it. I grew up speaking English at home, so studying Arabic (which changes notably in each country in which it is spoken, only complicating things for foreign speakers), French, and Spanish has been tedious. When I first moved to France, I was embarrassed by how much I struggled. But it was a great lesson. Mastering a subject is no simple task, which is something I told our students this summer as we prepped for their Regents exams at the end of the summer when they were doubting themselves just as I had doubted myself in the classroom before. Serious effort has a serious payoff!

CH: What other teaching experience did you have before this summer? 

AW: I worked as a camp counselor in high school and college and taught sailing classes each day to campers in elementary, middle, and early high school. Last summer, I worked at the International Rescue Committee’s annual summer school for immigrant and refugee children in New York. We worked on English, the arts, and general school preparedness.

CH: What will you take away from your summer working with our students at the Foundation? 

AW: I had a blast and feel like I’ve gotten to know the neighborhood where I’ve been living and studying for the past few years through a new and exciting lens. I loved the program and the students and only wish it had been longer!