Anna Kutbay is a political science and economics double major on the accelerated master’s track. A native of Morristown, TN, she currently serves as an ambassador for the College of Arts and Sciences and a research assistant for the UA Center for Economic Development.
How did you choose your major? What sparked your interest in the field?
Originally, when applying to schools, I was a neuroscience major on a pre-health track, which goes to show that a lot can change between your application and your arrival on campus! I chose political science and econ before my Bama Bound orientation — I had always loved politics, and my economics course second semester of my senior year was one of my favorite classes of all time.
I haven’t changed majors since being at UA; I think this double major set is a great fit because it combines the humanity of political science (why do humans think this way) with the mathematics of economics (let’s calculate the outcome of peoples’ choices).
What do you like about studying political science and economics at UA?
I love the professors in both departments. Both departments are very different, but both have professors who love what they do. I’ve been fortunate to do research in both departments; instead of hijacking the research and making students do the grunt work, professors let students run projects, support them, and help them get published!
Also, in these departments, professors are very understanding about students’ mental health, work schedules, etc. and love to accommodate. I always feel like someone is in my corner!
What are your career goals? What about your dream job?
I plan to go to law school and pursue Constitutional Law or Tort Law. My dream job is to be on the Supreme Court — I love the Constitution and researching it, and being a Justice would give me the opportunity to do that on the highest level.
Talk about any job-related experiences you’ve had. How did you find these opportunities?
I currently work as a researcher for the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development (UACED). I found the opportunity because my study abroad advisor emailed the entire group about the position. I applied, and was lucky enough to be selected! My job involves mostly data collection and interpretation in order to benefit Alabama counties. I work in a semi-professional office space, which has been an excellent experience for the real world.
Tell us about your experience working with the community.
For one of my University Honor’s classes, we ran a free tax service for individuals in the Tuscaloosa area. In the class, we prepped by becoming certified to perform basic and advanced level tax assessments (like someone at H&R Block) and then volunteered our time at the service. Within the class, we also learned so much about predatory lending, housing infrastructure, and tax codes. It was so interesting to learn about and working with individuals at the service was incredibly impactful. I did taxes for retired professors, teachers, moms, etc. who all told me their stories. It is something I truly will never forget!
What surprised you the most about college?
What surprised me the most was the culture and attitude in class. In high school, teachers were very threatening and strict, saying, “they won’t put up with this in college.” But in actuality, college professors are so kind and understanding because they want you to learn, not overwhelm yourself. Obviously, college is difficult, but your professors don’t want to punish you. If something goes awry with an assignment, or you don’t do all of your homework on time, or you miss class on accident, professors aren’t mean about it. They are more likely to check in on you and help you, rather than what your high school teachers may have predicted.
How did you make friends and find community on campus?
Most of my current friends are my teammates. I am on the competitive speech and debate team on campus (the Alabama Forensic Council) and because I spend so much time with the team, they automatically became my friends. But two of my best friends I met at orientation! In general, all of my friends came from the organizations I am a part of. I am not Greek, so this means clubs and classes. Reach out to people.
What advice do you have for future students?
My advice for future students is to think of college as a clean slate. Even if your high school years were perfect, college is a whole different experience. Come in with an open mind and the willingness to try new things. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself or your needs. If your roommate is bugging you or if you absolutely need an extension, have the hard conversations. College is a time to mature every skill that you have; one of the best ways to do that is by taking chances and making mistakes.
Also, don’t be afraid to have fun!! In my first semester, I became so bogged down with school that I rarely made time for my friends. One night of studying is not going to alter the grade on your test. But what will take a toll is neglecting your social life. There is a healthy balance between school and leisure. Finding it can be challenging, but it is so important!