Ever wonder what it’s like to be a member of Philly Fellows? In the ‘Meet Our Fellows’ series, we’ll introduce you to our current fellows, their projects, and how they are benefiting from the Philly Fellows program. This post features Ana Kearney, who is serving as the Schoolyear Program Manager at Springboard Collaborative. 

Name: Ana Kearney

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

University: Temple University

Major: Psychology and Spanish

How did you decide to become a Philly Fellow?

I decided to become a Philly Fellow because I wanted to gain some experience in the professional world before applying to graduate school. This choice also gave me some more time to think about what I want to do in the future. I particularly was intrigued by the supports built into the program like the free housing and loan forbearance. These offerings made the decision to take a year off before school viable. I was also drawn to Philly Fellows because I wanted to make an impact in my city. I grew up in Philly and went to public school for my whole life. Now with Springboard Collaborative, I bring resources to elementary schools in North Philly and Strawberry Mansion.

Let’s talk about your project. What’s your site like? What are you working on? 

I currently work at Springboard Collaborative as the Program Manager for Springboard Schoolyear. It is a pilot program expands our summer initiative into a year long program for kindergarten students. As the only person fully dedicated to Schoolyear, I oversee the program in its entirety. I connect with teachers and principals in five schools in North Philly and Strawberry Mansion. Schoolyear offers families a chance to learn different literary techniques that can be easily worked into a daily routine. Through engaging families, we close the reading achievement gap. My favorite days are when I get to watch teachers lead the family workshops. The students are adorable and families seem really excited about learning how to help their children.

Community living is one of the most important aspects of the Philly Fellows program. What’s this like? How have you benefited?

I love my roommates; we get along spectacularly. My favorite thing about the community living is that we are all in the same point in our lives. My roommates offer a built in support system that is unique to Philly Fellows. We come home at the end of the day and and talk about how our projects are going. I know that I can also look to them for support and guidance for my future goals. It’s encouraging to have people who are looking to go into similar fields as I am in the future. Our house has created a little family: The Carpenter Crew!

What’s your favorite part about being a Philly Fellow so far?

I think my favorite part of being a Philly Fellow is my job. My office is like a little family. I love that I was welcomed in and am a part of everything that is happening. In September, we had a organization-wide retreat in Connecticut, and I had tons of fun. We have a book club that meets every month. We also have fun team building activities like learning how to skate-board and making caramel apples for Halloween! Beyond those small things, I love coming to work everyday to a welcoming and supportive environment. We all truly believe in the work we are doing and it shows.

Have you had any major successes since starting your Philly Fellows term?

I actually just had a major success the other night! The summer after graduating from high school, I started reading the Game of Thrones series. It has taken me a little over four years to read the entire series. Of course, it shouldn’t have taken this long, but I would leave it for months at a time. I decided right after I graduated college, that I couldn’t stretch it out any longer and started over. I was able to finish the all the books between May and November. I now have a lot of binge-watching to catch up on! (No spoilers, please!)

A huge plus to this program is getting to live & work in Philadelphia’s vibrant communities. What do like about living in the city? Where have you explored?

Even though I grew up here in Philly, I loved getting to live in a new part of the city. Graduate Hospital is an amazing place to live. I get to walk to work every morning and it’s only a short walk to center city. It’s also a really nice change from living on a college campus. It feels like a neighborhood. The best part was on Halloween. We had so much fun sitting on the stoop giving out candy to all the little children. My favorite was the little hotdog that could barely walk!

What’s your favorite hobby?

In high school, I used to go to ballet class every night. Unfortunately, during college, I was never able to make time for that between classes, internships, and jobs. But now that I’m not a college student anymore, I’ve been able to start again! I go every Tuesday evening and it makes me really happy. I love that I can separate my personal time from my professional time and my work day ends at 5pm. Ballet gives me some time to myself and its a good source of exercise. It’s been a really positive part of my transition from college.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I would only eat pasta, because it is so versatile! I love the standard spaghetti with tomato sauce, but it can be so much more, too. You can make it into a salad with different veggies, or you can make it into a lasagna with some nice meat thrown in! I’m already pretty close to only eating pasta. My roommates sometimes ask me, jokingly and non-jokingly, whether it’s the only thing I eat. I’m working on expanding my repertoire though!