Student Spotlight: Anna Kunza

Anna Kunza, a senior from Burbank, California, is a shining example of what it means to be an Ave Maria student. Her love for God is not only the most important thing in her life, but is evident to all that she comes in contact with. As a double major in both Music and Humanities, Anna plans to go on to graduate school to pursue a career in either Human Resources or Public Relations.

What did you do last summer?

This past summer was amazing! I spent the summer in Europe, working for two different companies as an intern. In addition to my internships, I traveled to Slovakia to attend the Free Society Seminar, which is a society that was founded by Ambassador Novak. 

The first half of the summer, I was an intern for the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. The GMF is a non-partisan American public policy and grant-making institution, dedicated to promoting better understanding and cooperation between North America and Europe on transatlantic and global issues. The particular department that I worked for provides grants to companies and corporations who have shown leadership in civic society. Each summer, GMF selects a few citizens from America to come to Germany and spend six weeks traveling throughout European countries, getting to know the policies, politics, and the people, while interns from Germany go over to America and do the same. In addition to grant making and diplomatic efforts, GMF also does think tank work and research into political events which focus on issues going on in the political atmosphere. For example, when communism was prevalent in Eastern Europe, GMF worked to help create democracy by encouraging civic participation at a high level. It is a really interesting program! I would highly recommend that Ave students with an interest in pursuing careers in Politics and International Relations apply. 

After a stop in Croatia to see my family, I went to Bavaria for my second internship, where I led a work camp. It was a two week camp for youth from all over the world, designed to encourage them to come together, speak English, and work collectively on a project, while setting aside their differences. Together, we renovated a youth room and helped plant a field. We were able to explore castles in our free time and go on picnics in the park. It was a such an eye opening and rewarding experience!

How did your experiences from this past summer help you to shape your goals for the future?

They helped me to realize, even more so, what I am interested in, as well as what my most marketable skills are. For one, I really fell in love with Germany. If I could go back there for grad school, or a job, that would be great! What I loved most was the contact that I had with so many different people, both through the work camp, as well as through the German Marshall Fund. To have conversations with people coming from all different walks of life was not something that I had ever done, but it is such an important thing, especially with all of the cultural tensions going on right now.

What do you want to do after you graduate this year?

I plan on taking a gap year, hopefully abroad. During that time, l will be looking into possible options for graduate school.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Part of me could see myself in Germany, doing something like what I did at the German Marshall Fund, because it was an experience that I really loved. I could also see myself having a career in singing. I don't have a distinct “dream job”, honestly. I have a feeling of what I want to do with my life, and if it comes through my job, great, but if it comes through who I am as a person and the interactions that I have with people, that is great too!

What do you think are your three best qualities?

Insightfulness, articulation, and the ability to see and communicate beauty. These qualities have brought so much peace and joy into my life. In the book by C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, the artist was told that he could see things that other people couldn't because it was his job to help them see it. That is what I want to do for other people, whether it is through my work, my singing, or the way I live my life.

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?

I would love to travel through all of Europe! I’ve been to Europe quite a few times before because my mom is from Croatia, but I would love to keep going back. Every time I’m on a train over there I feel like I'm in a fairytale!

What brings you the most joy?

Taking time to see beauty. Watching sunsets, walking outside and talking to the people I pass by, listening to good music, and sitting outside in nature.

How would you like to help out our world?

I think there needs to be so much more dialogue about what causes the division and labeling that is going on in society right now. You hear people say things like, “I don't understand how people could think…” and that is the problem. When someone talks like that, it is a sign that they need to learn how to understand why someone is thinking that way. If society began doing this, rather than passing quick judgements, we would have dialogue, rather than blatant disrespect and hot headed disagreements. I think that is really important. I want to be able to help people see things more clearly and to desire to learn about all of the perspectives that go into an argument. 

What is your favorite book?

Lord of the Rings. There is so much depth and beauty in the books and the characters. What I really love is the overarching theme of light and hope and good versus the evil and despair and darkness that is encroaching on it. It is so important to realize that you have to fight for what is good and that it is worth fighting for, even in the darkest moments. One of the most difficult things is to see good things destroyed, but there is a deeper beauty that comes out from it, and I think this series really captures that.

What is your best study habit that you can pass on to the student body? 

I have been taking quite a few philosophy classes, and recently, I stared dialoguing with the book by writing in the margins. I know it sounds like a small exercise, but it has really helped me to get a deeper understanding and appreciation for the text, even if I disagree with what is being said. When it comes to our education, we need to shift our mentality about how seriously we take our studies. Schooling is not about the grades, it is more about growing as a person, especially because we came here to get a liberal arts education.