Catchin' Up with a Cookie: Abbeygale Anderson
Note: This story was originally posted on the Cooke Scholar Alumni page as part of the Alumni Buzz.
2009 Young Scholar; 2014 College Scholar, Dartmouth College
After graduating from Dartmouth with a degree in Political Science and Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies, I was most concerned with being able to provide for my family. As such, I followed the money and took a job in investment banking. From there, like many of my peers, I moved over to the buyside and took a role as an investor. To my surprise, I loved the technical aspects of the role.
By 2021, I was making more money than my family ever dreamed of as a Private Equity investor, but I kept asking myself “why am I doing this?” and “for whom am I doing this for?” I was excited to be a steward of capital because it enabled me to have a seat at the table in the decision-making process for innovative ideas. However, the funding dynamic of many investment platforms tends to result in providing support to those already with access in some capacity, thus further perpetuating the funding inequality. As it became increasingly apparent that my desire was to provide financial access to historically underrepresented ideas and founders, I had no choice but to resign and focus holistically on building a new venture fund, Cross Impact Capital. Cross Impact is the product of a personal passion to decrease existing disparities and increase equitable funding within marginalized communities and I am thrilled to launch in the coming months. I am finally able to align my personal passions with my professional interests.
My favorite thing to do for fun is re-creating Jamaican meals I remember cooking with my grandmother, Cinderella Cross Vassell (Yes, Cross Impact is named after her!).
WHAT DOES BEING A COOKE SCHOLAR MEAN TO YOU?
To understand what being a Cooke Scholar means to me is to know the impact Kristin Harper, my Young Scholar Educational Advisor, has had on my family. The Foundation hasn’t just provided me with the capital I needed to afford my education, but Kristin gave me reassurance, confidence, and support that completely changed what I viewed as possible.
When I was in the eighth grade, I realized that all the teachers who challenged me planned to leave, so staying for high school did not sit well with me. Sounds simple or rudimentary today, but I Googled “top high schools in Massachusetts” to learn about more schools close to home. Noble and Greenough, a 187-acre private high school in Dedham, peeked by interest. To avoid any burden on my mother, who was already working two full time jobs, I completed the student portion, answered the parent questions, and filled out the financial aid application form on my own. Before the interview process, I prepped my mother on what I wrote from her point of view. My eager 14-year-old self conducted mock interviews with my mom to make sure she was prepared. Interview day came and when my mother sat down, she looked at the head of admissions and said “I did not write anything. My child did that”. Thankfully, a few weeks later I received an acceptance letter from Nobles as they appreciated my mother’s integrity and my ambition.
However, getting in didn’t mean I had full intentions of accepting, so my myself, my mother, and Kristin sat down with my eighth grade principal to see if she thought it was a good idea for me to leave. The principal proceeded to tell me that I would be a small fish in a big pond and adamantly declared that she did not think I would do well at a school like Nobles. My current academic achievements seemed to have meant nothing to her. For the first time, I felt unqualified to try.
Thankfully, my mother and I had Kristin by our side who interjected to say she believed I could do it and she would do anything in her power to support me regardless of what I decided. My mother has always been my biggest cheerleader, but we both had no idea what this new world would look like, so we needed Kristin. I chose to try. I chose Nobles and that decision completely changed life.
Beyond the capital that has allowed me to be another step closer to financial freedom, being a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar has always been about having someone like Kristin Harper and the larger community that not only believes in me, but advocates for me.
TELL US ABOUT A MEMORABLE MOMENT WHILE IN UNDERGRAD OR GRADUATE SCHOOL.
I have the greatest friends one could ask for. Lucky for me, I met my best friends within the first week of college during pre-orientation. They are still my best friends today. When I think about them, I remember us laughing at 1am in the morning as we all pretended to finish our homework. I think most people walk away from their college experience with some complex feelings that may include joy or pain, and I am so lucky that the memories I hold onto include hearing my friends laugh.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU DID TO HELP YOU TRANSITION TO YOUR FIRST YEAR OUT OF COLLEGE?
Although I did not realize it immediately, the friendships I nurtured in my 4 years at college were the most helpful in my transition to my first year out of college. Unfortunately, none of my closest friends moved to New York with me and I had a demanding job that required me to work 100+ hours a week. However, it was these same friends that kept me grounded via words of encouragement on FaceTime while also giving me the space to vent about whatever was happening in my life at the time. Without them being emotionally present regardless of the physical distance, I doubt the transition would have been smooth.
In addition, I made a detailed list of goals as I think it is important for everyone who is transitioning after graduation to make a list of what they hope to accomplish in the near and long term. My goals included being more intentional with my decision making, being patient with myself, and of course financial budget related targets.
WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ OR MOVIE/SHOW YOU WATCHED THAT YOU REALLY ENJOYED AND HIGHLY RECOMMEND?
A recent movie I highly recommend is the 2021 biographical sports drama, King Richard. While this movie documents the lives of two inspirational women in Venus & Serena Williams, what resonated for me the most is the lesson I gleaned: I was raised with everything that mattered. King Richard was a poignant film for me as it reminded me that my mother is truly the source of my ability to believe in myself. I may not have had a lot of access to traditional resources, but my mother’s emotional support rivals that portrayed by Will Smith in the film. Similar to the sisters, that love and support is the source of my daily fuel as I continually strive in my quest for excellence.
As for books, I have been reading Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans. The book was gifted to me by fellow Cooke Scholar Linda Mindaye I reconnected with after 12 years. She remembered that I loved poetry as a child, and I couldn’t be more grateful that she gave me the book as it has rekindled my interest in reading and reflecting. My favorite line so far is “I know grace and mercy was raised by the same single mother”.
IF YOU WERE TO CREATE YOUR OWN COOKIE, WHAT WOULD IT CONSIST OF AND WHAT NAME WOULD YOU GIVE IT?
I belong to the rarified cohort of people who believe that Oatmeal Raisin and Snickerdoodle are fundamentally better cookies than chocolate chip. As such, I would combine two classics in Oatmeal Raisin and Snickerdoodle. In addition, my personal goal for this year has been to establish myself as a bourbon enthusiast, so I would add my own style to the cookies by incorporating an element of bourbon infusion. Upon consumption, each bite of Abbey’s Snicker Raisin Mash would reflect the familiarity of the Oatmeal Raisin, the warmth of a Snickerdoodle, and the subtle yet complex combination of bourbon characteristics like vanilla, oak, and spice to complete the experience.