Student Spotlight: Anne MacDonald

** we hear you had a very unique job before you came to the Kennedy School. Tell us about that.

For the last three years, I worked in President George W. and Mrs. Laura Bush’s office, managing Mrs. Bush’s policy engagement in national and international issues.  Getting to staff them through such an interesting time was the perfect capstone in the many experiences of a lifetime for which I’m very grateful to them.

**what did you do and whom did you tell first when you got accepted to HKS?

I was sitting at my desk and saw an email in my inbox with the subject
“Congratulations!” was sure it was spam and literally was hitting the delete button. Thankfully, I thought twice, was shocked to see I had been accepted, called my boss to tell her and then told my family.

**Barney, the Scottie dog who lived with President and Mrs Bush was quite famous in his own right. During his life he appeared in White House videos and inspired works of art. What is your favorite memory of Barney?

Barney was BELOVED!  It was very sad to see him pass away a few months ago.  When I was in the East Wing, at around 6 o’clock most days, Barney, Miss Beazley (their other Scottish terrier), and their human friend Maria would come by our offices to play, which was always a perfect break.

**what do you miss most about Texas?

Mexican food of the caliber that most of my Dallasites eat it three times a week.  And I especially miss my Dallasites.

**what’s the best thing about Cambridge?

Losing some of the pounds induced by said Mexican food.  I love the vibrancy of Cambridge and how there’s a different cross section of humanity on every corner, but it still feels like a little village.  It’s completely the opposite pedestrian and bike culture of Dallas, where you have a lot more massive trucks and fewer sidewalks.

Your love for Dallas is self-evident. How would you describe Texas for our readers who’ve not been there?

Maybe second only to Boston (I learned quickly not to question that everything in America started here), Texans might have more local pride than any other Americans. Steinbeck once said that Texas is “a mystique closely approximating a religion,” and I’m happy I got to spend a few years experiencing it.

Unlike Boston, Dallas pride is derived almost entirely from its fantastic personalities. Dallasites say that it’s “only the pioneering spirit of its people” that made it grow up into one of the nation’s bigger cities out of rough prairie nowhere near a major body of water. Whatever it lacks in scenery, Texans make up for by creating an awesomely warm and spirited environment.

**whiskey or rum?

As a native Tennessean, I need to say Jack Daniels, which is usually the first thing people from outside the US relate to Tennessee.  As a Haitian at heart, I need to give some credence to Barbancourt.  I hedge on all important political questions.

**in your experience, are public figures more fascinating in real life? Can you give an example?

I’ll always think an actual relationship with a real human would be more fascinating than observing a public persona from afar.  I have a friend who’s a singer/entertainer (and was a friend before she was a public figure) and we’ve had some interesting conversations about how public perception is created.  She wondered once if it would be preferable to go the route of someone else in her industry who presented herself to the public with a totally different exterior to who she was personally because it would make it easier to delineate what’s reality and what’s not.

** what one item is essential to your everyday life and why?

A book called Daily Light on the Daily Path (I also have the webpage bookmarked on my phone).  It’s a collection of morning and night readings from the Bible that I try to meditate on twice a day.  Most days it wonderfully meets me with wisdom and encouragement to start the day and peace to make sense of it before I go to bed.

**what are you hoping to do once you graduate?

Visit all 68 countries that my fellow mid-careers have come here from.  Spend more time on Haitian beaches and Tennessee lakes with my amazing friends and family. And to support those goals, professionally probably need to start working on figuring something out.

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