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Lilly Program for Vocation and Ethical Leadership
Markim Hall 310
651-696-6738
651-696-6030 (fax)

Academic-Year Hours
Monday-Friday: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Summer Hours
Monday-Thursday: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Friday: 9 a.m.-12:00 noon
Anna Lifson

Political Science, 2006
Minor: Hispanic Studies
Madison, Wisconsin
Lives of Commitment
, Neighborhood House, Lincoln English Language School
Leaders in Service
, Immigrant and Refugee Issue Coordinator
Off-Campus Student Employment
, Casa de Esperanza
Lilly Summer Fellow, Macalester Plymouth United Church
Action Fund Review Committee
Orientation Leader
Sirens
(a cappella women's singing group)

Anna Lifson assumes her admission essay to Macalester was “pretty typical” when she wrote about her intent to work for the United Nations someday. “I was really committed to changing the imbalances of power in the world, to working on the big scale of social change,” she says during a break from her work as a health counselor/ educator near Boston. “I have since come to understand that fundamental change occurs at an individual level, which then expands into change at the larger levels of communities and societies.”

"It was remarkable to watch Anna find her own voice. She grew personally een as she created a lasting legacy of leaderhip at Macalester. Lilly is Lilly because of student leaders like Anna." -Paul Schadewald, Associate Director, Civic Engagement Center

Lifson says her current position required a “crash course in health care,” but her history of community involvement seems to point a direct path to her current vocation. She notes that her parents and teachers always emphasized an ethic of social responsibility and service to others.

As a student at Macalester, Lifson worked and volunteered with community organizations serving immigrant and refugee populations and domestic violence survivors. Since graduating, she’s programmed community service opportunities for high school students in Madison, Wisconsin, coordinated programs for adolescent and adult survivors of relationship violence in Washington, D.C., and more recently settled in the Boston area, where she works side-by-side with a nurse practitioner to staff a reproductive and sexual health clinic for teens at a public high school.

Lifson says Macalester provided both contrasting and complementary life experiences. “Macalester clearly emphasizes academic study. But the ultimate purpose of that education, the reason people make so many sacrifices to attend Macalester, is not just about intellectual change; we want to learn how to be effective change agents in the world. In that regard, the complement to the academic theory and critical analysis skills we’re taught is to engage in practical, hands-on work in the community. Ultimately, my involvement with the Lilly Project and the CEC was valuable to me as a student because it prepared me for a career in the nonprofit sector and exposed me to life outside the ‘Mac bubble.’”

“Macalester is rich with opportunities,” Lifson continues, “but it’s not the easiest training ground for finding balance. Students feel the effects of being surrounded by brilliant, ambitious people in a high-pressure environment. Some students focus on their strengths, on building their careers as quickly as possible. But it’s also important to take the risk of moving outside your comfort zone, to experience being ‘not good at’ something right away. That kind of personal exploration really enriches life in college and beyond.”

“I’m still exploring, still on my journey,” Lifson muses. “I’ve joined a meditation center—that’s new—and I have wonderfully thoughtful colleagues, friends, and family who provide the opportunity for continued conversations about vocation and social change. My hope for Macalester students is that they worry less about resume-building and focus more on their own emotional and spiritual awakenings, not just their intellectual ones.”