When she’s not answering phone calls for Hillary Clinton or performing pop a cappella ballads at Carnegie Hall, this senior loves relaxing with a good book in hand and the company of friends. An expert nutritionist and a huge education advocate, Callie Holtermann is determined to make the world a better place, one meal at a time.
Name: Callie Holtermann
Hometown: Pennington, New Jersey
Intended Major/Minor/School: Political Theory Concentration in the Political Science Major in the College, Nutrition Minor in the School of Nursing
Activities: President of Counterparts A Cappella, Rebel Chefs, Chi Omega, Dining Advisory Board, Osiris Senior Society
34th Street Magazine: What was it like for you growing up in Jersey?
Callie Holtermann: I love Jersey. I’m the biggest Jersey fan and people make fun of me for it all the time. But I was lucky to grow up in a really beautiful, rural area. During summers, I would hangout on farms and that made me interested in food and agricultural policy later on in my life. Another cool thing about New Jersey is that there are truly all kinds of people there. I went to a really, really big high school with everybody being from all over and I think that served me really well when I got to Penn.
Street: How did you decide you wanted to major in political science and minor in nutrition?
CH: People always laugh when I say I’m a political science major and a nutrition minor because it just sounds really incongruent, but I realized when I was in high school that I didn’t really know how to eat. I started taking nutrition classes because I wanted to be able to have knowledge about this really important part of my life and as soon as I started taking those classes, and I also started cooking with kids in elementary schools around the same time. I just became really convinced of how important it is that kids get really good, positive messaging about healthy foods starting young.
Street: What are you working on for your senior thesis? How’s that been going?
CH: I haven’t written nearly as much as I should, but I’m writing about nutrition education in the U.S. and how it’s changed over time. I work with Rebel Chefs, which is a cooking program in West Philly elementary schools, and that got me interested in hands–on nutrition education and how it really does a good job in engaging students. When I started researching the history of nutrition education in the U.S., I found a lot of evidence that conventional nutrition education classes weren’t all that effective at translating to dietary change. Over time, it’s really interesting to see how USDA and state government resources are being put towards more hands–on interactions with food for kids as well as more environmental change in terms of what foods are available to students.
Street: I heard that you took off a whole semester to volunteer for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. What made you decide to do that?
CH: Well, I cold–applied through the website. It was not something I planned to do at all, I was just on her website looking for ways I could volunteer because I felt like it was a really important time. It was the first election I got to vote in and I really wanted to feel like I was doing everything I could for that election to go the way that I hoped it would, so I sent in my resume and everything and was given the opportunity to work full–time on the campaign for the fall of my sophomore year. Deciding to take a full semester off was really, really scary at the time, but I’m really glad I did. It was a super intensive experience, as I’m sure you can imagine, but it really gave me a lot of clarity about why I want to do what I want to do, and when I got back to school it really put a lot of things in perspective for me.
Street: What first got you into music and singing?
CH: I’ve always loved music. I like paying attention to the things that you just love regardless of how functional they are in your life. Music is not going to make my grades better, nor will it make me any money, but I just love it and love that it makes me happy no matter what. I sang in an all girls’ choir for my entire childhood (Princeton Girlchoir) and it formed some of the best friendships I had growing up, so I wanted a similar experience to that when I got to Penn. I was a little tired of choral music though, so I was so excited to join Counterparts.
Street: How has Counterparts been?
CH: We are singing at the grand opening of Wawa at 6th and Chestnut later this year on the same day that we are singing at Carnegie Hall, and I think that really speaks to the fact that Counterparts really does it all.
Street: What do you think you will miss most about Penn?
CH: Penn just has a person for everything. Whenever I have a super random question for my thesis or I want to meet someone who worked in this field to hear more about what that’s like, there’s just so many smart, involved people here that you can find someone who is an expert on anything. It’s just been a really convenient way to learn a lot about a ton of things in a short period of time.
Street: What are your plans for the future?
CH: I think I want to work on a 2020 campaign if I can, because 2016 was such a wild experience and I still just have a lot of energy and it seems like working on a campaign is a good place to direct your energy towards a specific outcome that you want to see in the country. After that, I’m heading to law school. I was really lucky to get into Harvard Law through their junior deferral program, so that means I have two years to explore whatever I want to explore and before heading to Boston two years after I graduate.
Street: Something you can’t go anywhere without?
CH: Water bottle
Street: Go to karaoke song?
CH: "No Air" by Jordin Sparks ft. Chris Brown
Street: Best place to eat on campus?
CH: Honey’s Sit N’ Eat. They have the best latkes.
Street: What celebrity would you have play you in a documentary about your life?
CH: I can’t say her name, but Saoirse Ronan. She was the main character in Ladybird.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn…
CH: Sunset Blush and what’s that other flavor of Franzia? Oh, Crisp White.
Street: And you are…
CH: Sunset Blush for sure.