Rays of Light: Anna Tegge
Hometown(s): Geneva, IL
Current Location: Washington D.C.
Nominated By: Ben Bruster
Current Role: Special Assistant to the CEO at the Curley Company
Reason for Nomination: Anna is a true blessing to all that know her! During our time at Augustana College, we became friends through our work in the Admissions Office, hanging out with some of the same people (cough, cough…Leo Nguyen), and through volunteering in Appalachia over spring break.
Pretty quickly, I learned that people like Anna are truly special and thus should be held on to. Anna is compassionate and witty; conscientious and kind; and curious but resolved to seize every moment. She has a heart for the underdogs among us, and she passionately works to serve them—to serve humanity, really. While at Augustana, she exemplified this, leading OKT (Opportunity Kicks Tutoring), a joint effort to mentor and tutor refugee youth, all the while forging bonds on the soccer field. She led and participated in many other service organizations as well, where she pushed herself and her peers to grow and learn.
All to say, Anna earnestly strives to do her best and to brighten the lives of those around her. Regardless of the situation, she always manages to make others feel heard, cared about, and known. She’s a dreamer, but she backs her dreams up with earnestness and un-tempered resolve, so that her dreams often become realities. Whether Anna is on the field, or on the [Capitol] Hill, or in transit, she is asset to her surroundings. By shining her light and lifting up others, Anna aims to, in no small way, “Be the change [she] wants to see in the world.”
And for these reasons, she is this week’s Ray of Light!
A Short Bio.
Anna Tegge was born and raised in Geneva, Illinois, a far western suburb of Chicago. As a child, she enjoyed being raised in a large family, fit with a combined 13 aunts and uncles. Her life would not be the same without them and her sister (Olivia, age 20), brother (Joe, age 17), and parents (Nancy and Jeff). She loves them dearly!
After high school, Anna attended Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. There, she studied international business, political science, and Spanish. Outside of the classroom, Anna anchored her college’s Symphonic Orchestra and soccer team, where played viola and the midfielder position, respectively. For her leadership on the field and in the locker room, she was even named the 2017 “Iron Viking”—an award indicating that, though Anna did not start at her position, she was integral to the strength and health of her soccer team.
While in college, Anna also studied abroad in Spain and volunteered in SE Kentucky, where she performed home reconstruction projects. Both trips strengthened her wanderlust and insatiable hunger to see and learn about the world and its peoples. Today, even when not traveling, she mine as well be. Living in D.C., a truly international city, she is accustomed to meeting people from all over the world. Commonly “hop[ping] in the front seat of a solo Uber ride,” Anna has met “phenomenal drivers from Iran, Tajikistan, Greece, Ethiopia, El Salvador,” from whom she has gleaned “silly, insightful, and interesting” stories and perspectives on life.
Anna is currently working as a Special Assistant to the CEO at the Curley Company, a small public relations firm in D.C. Outside of work, she enjoys attending Spanish-language happy hours, reading, running, and Salsa dancing. Anna also volunteers at Solutions in Hometown Connections, a refugee resettlement organization. And finally, to her own chagrin, she is a self-proclaimed “terrible cook.” Nonetheless, Anna feels excited to sharpen these skills and try new recipes each week. Beginner recipe suggestions are welcome, she says!
Q & A: The [Not So] Serious
BB: When looking to laugh, what (activities, settings, etc.) or who do you turn to?
AT: My talented friend, Leo Nguyen, has entered the stand-up comedy scene in D.C., and I absolutely love attending his sets.
BB: If you could time travel, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
AT: Keep loving on your grandparents, have enough self-confidence to be different, practice gratitude, & life goes on after algebra II.
BB: Imagine there is a Boeing 747 outside, waiting to take you anywhere in the world right now. Money is not a constraint. Where are you going and why?
AT: I would travel to Greece with my sister. After living in Spain, I developed a real appreciation for a Mediterranean cultural emphasis on family, post-dinner walks through the city, rich wine, and building a life with those who matter most around you.
BB: Tell about a recent moment when you felt proud to be you. Why do you think you felt this way? And what does this moment say about you?
AT: I feel very honored to have been selected by Ben Bruster for his “Rays of Light” blog. Ben is a great college friend who is humble, intelligent, thoughtful, curious, kind, a prolific writer, and inspires his peers to have a more positive outlook on life each day. Ben has spent a lifetime building up those around him, and I’m humbled to have been selected for his interview.
BB: Fill in the following sentence. I am oddly obsessed with __________ (type of food). And what makes you feel this way?
AT: Pepperoni and pineapple on (cheap, slightly gross, and usually-socially-unacceptable) pizza.
BB: Anna, your Christian faith seems to be an integral aspect of your life. How have you recently seen God acting in your life, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic?
AT: Just because a physical church is closed doesn’t mean you can’t find empathy, kindness, forgiveness, and hope in other places. I see my church in the uptick in donations to our local food pantries, in my peers delivering groceries to elderly neighbors, in small acts of kindness from roommates, and positive chalk messages from strangers on the sidewalk.
While consumed with my own worries about closing stores, cancelled plans, delayed trips, postponed graduations, and job insecurity, I’m doing my best to focus on those who are more vulnerable than me and what I can do to help.
BB: Who is your favorite author? Favorite book? And why?
AT: My favorite author is Dr. Seuss for his worldly themes in simple rhymes and my favorite book is A Thousand Splendid Suns for great writing and an interesting setting.
BB: How do see that you have grown over the past two years, since graduating from Augustana?
AT: After graduating from Augustana, I was eager to spread my wings in an unfamiliar city. I was attracted to Washington D.C.’s ambition, political prowess, and the opportunity to live and work in a city whose decision-making bodies had a ripple effect on the world. Washington D.C. has not disappointed, and I’ve had an incredibly fulfilling experience; however, I have a greater appreciation for where I came from and how I was raised. I previously worked with an individual who described the Midwest as “uneducated flyover country,” but I’ve come to be so proud of our Midwest work ethic, our selflessness, our “Midwest-nice” personalities, and the genuine love we share for the people in our communities.
BB: Anna, since you live and work in Washington D.C., what is the wildest interaction you’ve had, or the wildest thing you’ve witnessed?
AT: I’ve shared a drink with one of Vice President Biden’s senior advisors, bowled in the White House basement, climbed to the top of the Capitol Dome, shared a lunch with the former Secretary of Defense, and actually babysat for President Obama’s family friends.
BB: What are you doing to stay positive and practice gratitude during this time of social isolation?
AT: Like many of my peers, I’m finding new at-home workouts, reading, trying new recipes, connecting with friends on Zoom, attempting more yoga, reorganizing my closet, and binging Tiger King on Netflix…!
I’ve also found solace in sending snail mail to friends I haven’t connected with in a while, penciling in hopeful plans on my calendar, being more intentional about patience, learning to sew medical masks, checking out audiobook features on the Libby app, and getting my younger siblings to update me on TikTok trends….(!)
My roommates and I have made a concerted effort to separate the weekdays from the weekends and have planned games, activities, and even a themed wine tasting tour throughout the different rooms in our home.
BB: What does a “typical” day in your work, at the Curley Company, look like?
AT: Every day at Curley Company is different. As a Special Assistant to the CEO, in many ways I serve as a utility player for the CEO, my colleagues, and the different needs of a small business. Before COVID-19, most days began with a NPR podcast on my commute, lots of coffee, a scan of the news, a check on my CEO’s priorities, a reprioritization of her schedule, some email clearing, some strategic planning, multiple errands, chats with colleagues, event planning, onboarding, billing, researching, copyediting, speech-writing, battling technology (!), cheering on my colleagues, and chatting with the custodial staff in my building before commuting home.
BB: With modern technology and social media, it seems really easy to perceive others’ lives differently than they occur. Given this phenomenon, what do wish the world knew about you that they might not already know?
AT: Your character is who you are when no one is looking.