I’m Maeve Andersen. For reasons that will become obvious, I tend to have great difficulty crafting a concise and straightforward narrative of who I am and the events of my (thus far relatively short) life. With that said, I will try.
I was born in the small riverside village of Cold Spring, NY. I would describe my background as middle-class insofar as my parent’s educational attainment and white/pink-collar jobs. My father was a state attorney and my mother was a special education teacher.
I grew up in New York with one parent upstate and one parent in NYC, long trips alone on the Metro-North train between the two were a hallmark of my childhood. Upstate, I bounced between rural towns and small cities in New York’s Hudson Valley, specifically Putnam & Dutchess counties. While I spent the schoolweek there, the rest of my childhood was spent living in NYC (specifically the Midtown East & Lenox Hill neighborhoods of Manhattan). My father was very transient and our relationship on shaky ground when I was a kid and for that reason I also spent a few years living in the Los Angeles area. Needless to say things are not cut-and-dry, but I consider myself a native New Yorker with the fast pace and low tolerance for nonsense that go along with it. Were I to list all the odd corners of the country I've couch surfed in during the more chaotic periods of my teen years, this'd be longer than it has any right to be. I no longer have family in New York and don’t have a permanent home beyond my dorm in Boston, though most of my family are in North Carolina and Arizona.
I feel it is important to disclaim that I was never poor. Despite some of what I will describe, there was always a good amount of money saved and reliable relatives to lean on. There were two periods of great instability in my life, both the result of rather sudden parental divorces and the significant changes in economic circumstance brought about by them. These could be characterized by moving from large suburban homes we could no longer afford to live in to uninhabitable, cramped spaces. Highlights include an apartment owned by the heating oil supplier adjacent and an abandoned hair salon. Mold, exposed wires, holes, rats, broken water heaters, if you can name it I have probably lived it. Needless to say, these experiences of housing insecurity (and the contrast with the luxurious parts of Manhattan I walked at the same time) have informed my political beliefs considerably and given me a certain perspective on life I believe to be an asset.
I became interested in programming when I was about 9, through the usual suspects of Scratch, Minecraft, and Roblox. I had a pretty successful time on the latter, with some of my creations as a kid being played hundreds of thousands of times. Because of Roblox, Lua was my first language, which uh… has been interesting (it indexes from 1 instead of 0). Conjuring an idea and modding it into Minecraft with Java, or making a Roblox game about it was a beacon of light in some of the worst periods of my life.
When I was a bit older, I also got pretty engaged with politics. My first taste was the Bernie 2016 campaign, it was a powerful feeling to hear the solutions he proposed and ask myself what effect they’d have on my life. I remember making maps of what the 2016 election could look like in the back of middle school study hall. I have knocked doors and made calls for innumerable candidates in NYC, Upstate NY, Greater Boston, and as far away as Georgia from moderate to progressive when I have believed their victory would have a material impact on the people they serve.
I was not a college-bound kid. I was a complete wild-child with all the stereotypical acts of parental disobedience that go along with it. I went to a high school with a pretty high dropout rate and was a D+ to C- student with the occasional F, just getting by with the minimum work I had to do (if that). I got in fights with dangerous people, I made stupid decisions, and if not for a select few teachers that told me I wasn’t dumb, I don’t know exactly where I’d be, but it would not be here. I studied hard for the first time in my life, took the SAT and got a good score, a few community college classes, wrote a pretty decent essay, and Northeastern took a chance on me against my most unreasonable expectations.
My time here has been a culture-shock to say the least. There are many people here who have been groomed for academic success from birth, and I am not one of them. I did not do well my first semester or two at this school. I felt much more in common with people I met outside the classroom than within it. But with this said, I believe I have broken in my shoes and rid myself of the imposter syndrome I came here with. For every genuinely impressive person I meet here, I meet another who clearly comes from money and was always going to end up at a school like this. The obliviousness to privilege has been particularly jarring, though I don’t let it make me cynical.
I work as a bicycle courier. It can be a somewhat grueling and dangerous job, but I think it has really helped me hone my problem-solving skills. Would it be faster to cut through this back alley or go around the corner and hope the sidewalk is free of pedestrians? Where is the apartment I am supposed to go to in this complex of three or four buildings? Does this driver see me, and if not what is the best way I can make sure he does before he accidentally kills me? I think the skills I have developed running my own independent contracting business can be applied to other disciplines. Oh, and it pays my bills. That’s pretty nice as well.
I do not (and will not) shy away from who I am, what I believe, or where I came from. I make a point to acknowledge and not obfuscate my past mistakes. I believe it is a crucial part of improving as a person.