At Hutchison, Ana Hunter ’23 Found a Spark for Storytelling, and She Has More Stories to Share
The 15-year student and recent recipient of the Ideal Hutchison Girl Award credits Hutchison for providing opportunities for her to delve deeper into her interests and helping her become a strong student and creative innovator.
From her narrative and spoken word poetry to co-founding two STEM student groups to pursuing her career dreams in video game design, Ana Hunter ’23 truly exemplifies “anywhere she can imagine.” Ana saw herself as a writer, singer, dancer, golfer, photographer, gamer, and coder and then made them all happen. “Hutchison showed me not to back down when I’m going after something,” she said.
Not only did Ana go after her goals with creativity, ingenuity, and determination, but she also inspired her classmates along the way. At commencement for the Class of 2023, she received the Ideal Hutchison Girl Award, which is voted upon by the graduating seniors and presented to a senior best representing the ideal woman as described in Proverbs 31: honest, understanding, trustworthy, courteous, humble, industrious, sincere, obedient, and noble.
In addition to these traits, Ana is a strong scholar and credits Hutchison for her academic success. “I would 100% say that Hutchison encourages us to push our limits and get outside of our comfort zone,” she said. During her senior year, she received the Sara & Leonard Frey Award, given to a student committed to the life of the mind and to the active pursuit of knowledge and understanding. Ana said she used to be a perfectionist and was fixated on grades, but her teachers helped her ease out of it and focus on the joy of learning.
“My teachers taught me to take a step back when I need to and take note of what I’ve accomplished,” she said. “I learned to take the time to appreciate where I am in the moment.”
At this moment, Ana is preparing to head to the University of Southern California and start to pursue a career in the video game industry. She is an avid video game player, and as she played different games over the years, she would research how they were made, which piqued her interest. As Ana expressed her interest, Hutchison provided opportunities for her to explore, and she took up many opportunities on her own as well, such as Girls Who Code and QubitxQubit Quantum Computing Summer Camp. She remains the only Hutchison sophomore to have ever taken AP Computer Science. In the class, she enjoyed the opportunity to create a game for an assignment, and her teacher Laura Rangarajan also connected her with mentors who provided insight. Ana realized that a big part of her love for video games is the narrative aspect, and that is what she wants to create.
“Some of my favorite video games are stories that get you involved with the characters’ lives,” she said. “I want to create the narrative and determine how a player gets immersed in the world.”
To follow her interests in gaming and engineering, she co-founded two student groups with Zoe Zerwig Ford ’23: the Society of Women Engineers Next Club (SWENext) and the HIVE Mind eSports League. During SWENext’s first year, about 10 girls joined, and the club has steadily grown. Members participate in various STEM projects and hear from speakers within each discipline of engineering. As a leader of SWENext, Ana moderated a panel featuring women in various engineering careers, including a biomedical engineering professor, a civil engineer, and an electrical engineer. One of Ana’s favorite quotes is, “What you leave should be bigger than you,” and she is proud to have an impact on aspiring engineers at Hutchison.
“SWENext is going to be able to progress and become bigger than it is now. I’m excited to see it continue to introduce all these students to whatever they might want to do in engineering or maybe let them know what they don’t want to do,” she said.
For the HIVE Mind eSports League, Ana applied for and received a grant from Logitech for the high-powered PCs required for competitions. During the group’s first year of competition in 2019, the High School Esports League awarded HIVE Mind the Adopting Excellence Award. This past summer through the Institute for Responsible Citizenship, she completed a virtual mentorship with the East Tennessee State University ESports team to learn more about how to expand the Hutchison team.
To help students learn more about engineering and esports, Ana moderated a panel featuring local women in engineering careers and interviewed executives at the High School Esports League and Generation Esports.
Hutchison also helped Ana find her voice, especially through writing and poetry. She started writing poems when she was in the eighth grade, and she would show her work to then-middle school ELA teacher Savannah McCausland, who now teaches 10th graders. Ms. McCausland and several teachers served as mentors to the young poet and motivated her to keep writing.
“My teachers have been helpful in critiquing and giving me commentary on my work. Their advice pushed me toward going more into writing and finding my voice in a way that I know I can use in the future,” she said.
Ana went from writing poetry as an emotional outlet for herself to sharing her work and embracing vulnerability in front of hundreds of Hutchison students and faculty. For example, instead of a more traditional senior speech, she chose to commemorate Black Poetry Day by delivering her speech in the form of a spoken word poem. Many people at the convocation were amazed by Ana's writing and performance. Her work has been celebrated outside of the Hutchison community as well. She won Gold Keys in the regional Scholastic Writing Awards in 2021 and 2023, and she recently won first place in the Tom Lee Poetry and Spoken Word Contest. Ana also learned to express herself by singing in Vocal Point and performing as a member of the upper school dance company.
Ana's Poetic Advice to Hutchison Girls:
“I encourage you to find your outlet, your light, that thing that makes you feel more than a moment of being free. That thing that makes you feel like you will return to it practically and inevitably. It will come when your times are the toughest and you can bear no more. It will come when you think your purpose is long overworn. Don't put a timer on when you think your light should come. That's like rushing to the end before the movie has begun.”
Ana said she is sad to leave the only place that has felt like home outside of her family home, but she is looking forward to her future at the University of Southern California. Her ultimate career goal is to create a game entirely of her own, from concept to programming to design and production, and her dream video game has a connection to Hutchison. It’s based on a short story she wrote in Ms. McCausland’s class in eighth grade, but you’ll have to wait until it is produced to see what story she wants to tell.