Out with Lanterns Looking for Myself: Meet Caroline

Caroline sitting at the MET museum in New York City. Behind her, the columns of the museum are visible.

We are ringing in the new year with a brand-new Minerva team member: Please welcome our first intern of 2023, Caroline Hall (she/her)! An avid reader and collector of quotes, Caroline graduated last June from the University of Washington and lives in the Emerald City, where she’s from. The Minerva team is excited to learn from and with you, Caroline – oh, and for your awesome book recommendations. 🙂  

You have a unique educational background—a bachelors in Anthropology with minors in International Studies and English. What led you to study anthropology and what do you love about it most? 

I really love people and learning about different cultures and communities, especially how we develop our identities around their intersections. Anthropology was also an opportunity to study people with both a global lens and a localized lens. I got to take classes on big topics like international refugees and policy, and then take classes specific to the Seattle area, offering a broad and also a concentrated view of people and systems. 

How does anthropology connect with the work we do at Minerva Strategies? 

Everyone possesses so many different facets to their identity, both on an individual level and globally. Studying anthropology was a helpful exercise in learning to push back on a “one-size-fits-all” way of thinking. It also allowed for a lot of intentional research that values people’s stories. Anthropology has a history of putting people on display, but the last several decades of anthropologists have been moving away from that and instead towards uplifting stories and understanding where people are coming from. That is an important skill I gained: learning how to tell people’s stories the way they want them to be told, or better yet, helping them tell their own stories. 

Caroline with her graduation cap standing on steps
Caroline standing in front of UW’s Anthropology building on graduation day!

What has been your favorite job or internship and why? 

I would say my favorite internship was my most recent editorial internship I did with eNotes. It was fun because all I did was write and develop content. A lot of it was working with existing content from different sources and folks who contributed to the website in the past, and I would either update that or give it a revamp. Other times I was adding completely original content of my own. It gave me a lot of confidence in writing something of quality to be published. Because it was in an educational setting, it gave me the opportunity to break down convoluted language and overly academic or inaccessible language. I know Minerva talks about this, too—using plain speech and simplifying language that invites people in instead of keeping them out. 

You’re right! Making content accessible is a big part of Minerva’s work. What else about this internship drew you in to apply? 

The content on Minerva’s website, like the principles and everyone’s bios, was written with intentionality that didn’t feel forced or overly buzz-wordy. I also liked the transparency about building skills and collaboration and getting to work with a variety of clients. Mission-driven work is where I’m hoping to head in my career, and this is something that was obviously very important to everyone at Minerva—to be doing something that matters and that you feel like you have a stake in.   

We learned in our first week working with you, Caroline, that you collect quotes. Where did that hobby stem from and what are some of your favorites? 

Related to my love of writing is my love of reading, and I’ve always been fascinated with words. Also, I’m the kind of person that if I read something that affects or resonates with me, it really, really, does. I started casually collecting quotes and phrases that I liked and that bounced around in my head. Kind of like affirmations, there are quotes that I treat as little “lifeboats,” like little pillars or pieces that have been helpful to me at different points in my life. 

I love this one from a poem by Mary Oliver:  

“It is a serious thing // just to be alive // on this fresh morning // in the broken world.”  

Mary Oliver

What I liked about this one is the “it is serious” phrase because it gives permission to think you’ve done enough by just existing, and everything else is adding on top of that. 

Another quote I’ve liked recently is an Emily Dickinson quote from a letter she wrote to one of her friends. It’s a sad and kind of offhand, comical comment with a funny backstory. Basically, she’s talking about how she’s moving houses and packing up her life in boxes and she feels stressed and discombobulated. She writes to her friend:   

“I am out with lanterns looking for myself.”

Emily Dickinson

It reminded me of the stage of life that I am in now as a post grad trying to figure out what is next. I like the idea that you could be out with lanterns looking for yourself—like there are always new pieces to discover. We’re never set in stone; you always have the opportunity to go looking for more of you. 

Those are beautiful. Speaking of reading, what was the best book you read in 2022? 

One book that I actually re-read last year and that I recommend to everyone is Little Weirds by Jenny Slate, who is an actress and comedian. It’s filled with great personal essays and prose that is very dreamy and memoir-like. She has a beautiful writing style, and I have found many quotes that I really enjoyed. 

Thinking of future Caroline, what would a dream job be for you? 

That’s tough. I am comfortable not knowing exactly what the future looks like for me, but I think it would be awesome to be in the writing and editing space for a publication like a magazine or a journal or a website. It would also be fun to work in print. I’d just love to be able to read and write and feel excited by what I’m writing. 

Caroline in a graduation robe standing in front of a tall white column. She is waving her graduation cap in the air.

Would you ever write your own book?  

I’ve totally thought about this. Like the Jenny Slate book I mentioned, I love the idea of writing a memoir kind of thing, but also, the gravity of a memoir feels like a lot. It would be cool to have the opportunity to reflect in a shorter format about my experiences—I have a lot of childhood memories that would be interesting to reflect on. I always say that I write because I have no choice in it. Like, I just have to. 

About The Author

Kayla McMenamin

Kayla McMenamin

Kayla has a strong affection for storytelling and an aptitude for translating complex topics into sharp messaging. While her career began more than a decade ago in strategic communications, an insatiable interest in everything health inspired her to return to school to study disparities research and behavior theory. Learn more about Kayla.