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Alumni Spotlight: Anna Hollingsworth

Anna Hollingsworth

Anna Hollingsworth, History '16, discusses how her time at Stanford shaped her post-graduate journey. She was the first student to receive a minor in Iranian Studies. 

Where did your post-graduate journey take you? 

My post-graduate journey has followed a serpentine route, as I explored different career paths, from research and teaching, to law, to finance and marketing, before finally choosing to dedicate myself to architecture. I am currently pursuing a Master of Architecture degree and working at an architectural firm that focuses on libraries, community centers, and other public buildings. I am very excited to apply everything that I learned along the way to building better social infrastructure.

What made you interested in studying Iran while at Stanford? 

Iran's rich history, from the Achaemenids to the 1979 revolution, has deeply influenced the surrounding region, and my history research kept leading me back to Iran. Persian culture and politics played a central role in Ancient Greece, the Ottoman Empire, the Caucasus, etc. And for better or worse, Iranian history has continued to be fascinating up to the present day. Beyond history however, Iran's art, architecture, music, and films continue to inspire people around the world. I also think it is important to study Iran in light of the current geopolitical situation and the vibrant expatriate community.

How did your minor in Iranian studies shape your understanding of the world and prepare you for your next steps?

The Iranian studies program provided me with an opportunity to learn more about how others see the world—and I believe we can never have enough cultural immersions of that sort. My interest in Iran has continued to inform and inspire my current graduate studies in architecture. For example, I have studied eco-friendly ancient Iranian windcatchers (badgirs), the dazzling historic bridges of Isfahan which combine classic infrastructure with social gathering spaces, and a unique rock climbing gym design in Polur. Iran's extensive cultural output is too often overlooked.

What advice would you give to current Stanford students?

My advice to current Stanford students is to try lots of different classes if you're not sure yet about what you want to do. You don't always know which classes might prove useful later on—some classes that I took just to try something different have played a central role in my current career.

All of my favorite memories from Stanford involve conversations with the wonderful people on campus. Enjoy the community while you're there!