"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, August 12, 2013

94. Anne Johnson

Tucson, Arizona · Engineering

Name at Cornell
Anne Catlin


Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
After two rounds of grad school and working as an operations research analyst and strategist in the defense sector for many years, I recently escaped the corporate world to do something more fun and less paranoid. I am now a real estate investor, and I opened an elite personal training facility with an unlikely business partner. The gym allows me to spend plenty of time at recess, and I enjoy helping people change their lives for the better. Owning a small business is a lot of work, and I am busier, far more productive, and far more fulfilled than I ever was when I had a corporate job. I don't get to relax much, as I also have a third-grader (Natalie) and a kindergartner (Ryan), and my husband is a Delta pilot who is gone much of the time. I have extra motivation to teach them to be self-sufficient!

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?
As an engineer, my favorite classes were all in the other colleges! Wines has probably been the most useful class for real-life application. I also completed a concentration in classics, and believe it or not, I used my knowledge from Medieval Art History, Greek Mythology, the Roman Experience, and the Comic Theater quite a bit, especially when I lived in Germany and traveled around Europe. I could identify architectural features and sound like an Ivy League-educated smart-ass.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

I have so many great memories that I don't know where to start. Snow football in the dark freshman year; sneaking Ben & Jerry's and Jolt cola into the Cocktail Lounge conference rooms with friends while studying for finals as a sophomore; laughing so hard I couldn't breathe during lunch at Oakenshields; traying on Libe Slope. Prof. David Mankin's Thanksgiving lecture in Greek Mythology was a classic. The list goes on. At Reunion '10, I particularly enjoyed the smell of Barton floor in the morning, which took me back to all of the "fun" I had as a cadet.

What advice would you give to a student starting at Cornell this year?

Be aware that you will probably change course several times during your career, at Cornell and beyond. If you start a major and realize later that you would rather do something else, have the courage to make the change! Also, seize opportunities for spontaneous fun whenever possible. You will forget how to expand the Navier-Stokes equations, but you will remember the midnight snowball fights, forays into the gorge just because the sun came out, unplanned dinners out with random people, and other diversions that were definitely not on your calendar.