Sharples Profile: Anna McCarthy: Mindfulness, Music, and Mother Sauce

Anna McCarthy started working at Sharples in August three years ago, just as the class of 2020 entered the dining hall for the first time. She usually works at the pizza station, though she also stocks the salad room, and on Sundays can be found staffing the vegetarian line. Hailing from Springfield, PA, McCarthy currently resides near Whittier Place, a short walk away from campus.

“When I got out of high school I knew I just wanted to make things with my hands,” she said. “I liked to bake a lot, so I worked at a bakery from when I was seventeen until I was twenty.”

While she enjoyed working at the bakery, she eventually moved on to working at a catering company.

“If I never saw a cupcake again I would be perfectly okay with that,” she said.

As a caterer, McCarthy worked part time staffing stations and serving food at weddings and other events.

“Eventually I knew I wanted to get out of food,” said McCarthy.

The opportunity to work at Swarthmore presented itself, which was appealing to her because it would allow her to support herself while also going back to school. She enrolled at Delaware County Community College, where she is currently majoring in psychology and is planning to add a business minor.

“I want to study the relationship between psychology and diet. I think that gut health and mental health can be connected, that healthy eating might contribute to fighting depression,” she said.

McCarthy wants to continue serving people through pursuing a professional career in psychology.

“My favorite part of working here is talking with students,” she said. “And I like making pizza, it’s something different every day and it’s fun to see the end result.”

Just like every Swarthmore student, McCarthy has opinions about certain Sharples bars.

“I like potato bar, I have a weird obsession with potatoes. I could eat them and never get bored. Maybe it’s because I’m Irish,” she laughed.

During school breaks McCarthy returns to her previous catering job, or works as a nanny.

McCarthy enjoys going on walks and going to the gym, and spends plenty of time hanging out with her siblings (she is the oldest of six).

“I’m really into reading, I read a little bit of everything. The last book I read that I really liked is The Kite Runner. People’s narratives are always interesting. I like to read informational books too, I like to read about nutrition and health, and I find psychology books interesting too. Really dorky reading.”

“What motivates me to read is to learn more, and especially with biographies how to learn from other people and emulate their lives. It’s another way to open your eyes to the world. A lot can be painted in a book,” she said.

She also enjoys listening to a wide variety of music, spanning genres from indie folk to R&B.

“My music taste is very all over the place. Recently I’ve been listening to Lord Huron. I just found this one guy, his name is Dominic Fike, he’s just this 23 year old kid from South Florida but his music is super catchy. And I like Khalid. Not to be confused with DJ Khaled though,” she added.

Owing to her culinary interests, McCarthy said that if she could speak with one historical figure she would choose French chef Antonin Careme.

“He created the five mother sauces, base sauces that chefs use and expand on. He had a lot to do with organizing kitchens and perfecting the way things worked. He cooked for a lot of famous people, like Napoleon,” she explained. “But if I could ever talk to a fictional person it would be Jean Valjean from Les Miserables. It’s my favorite musical.”

Among her hopes for the future, McCarthy said that she “always wanted to go to New Zealand to see the Glowworm cave, where if you touch it it lights up a bit. That would be pretty neat.”

McCarthy concluded with words of advice that she has found to be helpful in her life thus far.

“As you get older I think you need to focus on the day-by-day. Not to use the whole millennial buzz word, but I think that’s where mindfulness comes into play. There’s so much of a push to keep on going and moving but you just need to appreciate the little things in life and think about how much you did accomplish. And even if you feel like you’re not in the right place you need to look at the place you are now how that’s gotten you farther from where you used to be before. And you can use that to figure out where you’re going. But those are just my thoughts.”

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