Annie Oommen

City and Regional Planning Masters Candidate at UNC Chapel Hill

Years as a Camper: 2011-2013, 2014 CILT, and 2015 CIT

Years as a Staff Member/Positions held: 2 years as a Butterfly Counselor, 2016-2017 (B4L!)


Current Profession and Title/Years in role:

First year City and Regional Planning Masters Candidate at UNC Chapel Hill.


Can you provide a brief overview of your job responsibilities?

I’m specializing in transportation planning, with a focus on public transit, complete streets, and climate resiliency. My studies entail learning about climate adaptation and the workings of freight systems, transit systems, and infrastructure. I’m also a Graduate

Researcher, working on a project that analyzes how the 2021 NC Medicaid Transformation affected the state’s county transit systems.


Do you have any career advice for members of our Camp community?

Imposter syndrome is all psychological - no one, at any level of perceived success, knows what they’re doing. The only difference between you and someone who has achieved something you want is the fact that they went and did it - there is little to no personal or intellectual hurdle to overcome, just your perception of your own capability.


What do you believe have been some of your greatest personal and professional accomplishments? Is there a goal toward which you are currently working?

My greatest personal accomplishment was moving to Nantes, France to teach English- a lifelong goal - after graduating from college in 2020. It was the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done. Despite the enormous difficulties of living abroad during a global crisis, I realized that my life there was actually very rich and beautiful. I became fluent in French, made friends from across the world, and made it feel like a home. I largely attribute this success to the excellent urban design of Nantes. I learned that when bikeability and pedestrianism, beautiful architecture, people-centered design, and efficient public transit are prioritized, liberation and community integration can thrive. Now, I am pursuing a career in urban planning in order to expand on these ideas in the United States. My ultimate professional goal would be to (actually) bring light rail to the Triangle area!


What is a lesson or skill that you have taken from camp and used in your personal or professional life?

“If you can’t get out of something, get into it” -Kelly Hince, I think.


How do the values or skills you learned at Camp show up in your everyday work and/or personal life?

Learning how to find excitement in mundanity, how to psych yourself into confidence, and how to reflect on what really matters – these are all skills I learned at Kanata. I can practically pinpoint when and where at camp I had each of these revelations.

Also, learning how to tie a bunch of knots (thank you, Alpine!) has weirdly come up a lot.


Is there a person or a situation that had a huge influence on you while you were at Camp? How and why did they/it impact you?

I met my best friend, Abigail Holland, at camp. It’s one thing to look up to a mentor that is older - they’re supposed to help you aspire toward your future self, but to have a peer that is so out of this world fantastic is what really challenges you to grow in the present. Friendship with Abigail has encouraged me to take things less seriously, and to be more creative and introspective. How can you spend all your time with someone so funny and genius and not be positively influenced?


What advice would you give your younger self?

Take more risks! Nothing really matters and it's all made up. The key is to trust yourself and your ability to recover if things don’t work out.


What three words best describe you?

Warm, creative, enthusiastic


What is your favorite camp memory?

Anything that involved doing something ridiculous to make my campers laugh. I drank an exorbitant amount of hot sauce-pickle-pulled pork-orange juice smoothies during the summer of 2017.

Summer 2016 I had the best co-counselors in the history of co-counselors. Saane Chamberlin-Finau, BL Weaver, and I would do these ridiculous guided meditations to “try” to get the campers to sleep, but it only made them more wired and silly. To me, that is what camp is about.

Annie Oommen