You’ve probably seen Anna Harris around Enumclaw, even if you didn’t know her.
When she was in high school, you could see her skipping class to go read at The Sequel.
If you shop at Enumclaw Music on Cole Street, you’ve probably heard her giving violin lessons.
And if you recently bought a Pie Goddess delicacy, there’s a good chance she helped put it together.
Harris is a born and raised Enumclaw local, and with the help of other townies and lovers of pie she is able to travel across the country to attend her dream school – Boston University.
Harris chose BU because she believes she can get the best musical education there while still getting the “university experience.”
She received a scholarships from Western Washington University and even full rides at Central Washington University and Seattle University, but she felt that her musical education would suffer.
“I turned them down… because, for music, I could do that and then move on to grad school at a great place, but I’d be four years behind,” she said. “There’s a reason I got those scholarships. I don’t want to sound cocky but… I want to go in at a certain level. I want to go in as the worst so I can improve to even a higher level.”
The only real problem with attending BU was the finances. At the start of the summer, Harris didn’t have enough money to afford living in Boston for a year, let alone doing so while enrolled in university.
So Harris hunkered down and started working to earn enough money to pay for college. At one point she was holding down her Pie Goddess job while tutoring, teaching violin lessons and freelance typing on top of her own violin lessons.
“I’m working a lot,” she said. “And I wake up early to practice in the morning and stay up late to practice at night because there’s no point in working if I can’t practice.”
Harris was making strong progress, but was still coming up short when it came to living expenses. That’s where the pie lovers came in.
After getting permission from her boss and Pie Goddess owner Suzie Sidhu, Harris began selling raffle tickets at a dollar each for pies, with the proceeds going toward her college fund.
By the end of the summer, the various raffles raised close to $1,000 to help Harris attend Boston University and live in the city.
“I am very lucky,” Harris said. “As of right now, I have paid tuition.”
Harris leaves Enumclaw today, Wednesday, Aug. 31 to start at Boston University Sept. 6.
She already has a job lined up in the city at an ice cream parlor.
Since she was 4 years old, Harris has been playing some type of musical instrument.
It was at 7 when she chose the violin, knowing early on that she was going to be a professional violinist.
“There was no big, climatic moment – violin just became a career,” she said. “I love it still, but it is an income also, which I’m really lucky for.”
Becoming a professional violinist isn’t her only educational aspiration; Harris plans to double major in English because of her love of reading.
In high school, Harris would skip at least one class a day to head down to The Sequel to read and drink coffee. She did it often enough that the owners learned her regular order.
“As opposed to just sitting in class and wasting time with people talking and being absurd, (I would) just sit there and pick up a whole bunch of books and just read,” she said.
In her free time – when she’s not working or practicing her music – Harris writes poetry and fiction, and hopes to publish a book of her poetry in the near future.
There were many, many times Harris felt like she wasn’t going to be able to make her financial goals for the summer, she said.
“I would just be cooking and I’d think, ‘oh my God, there’s all this stuff I have to do, and all the money,’ and I’d have everything running through my head,” Harris said. “But then some sweet lady would come in and say, ‘oh, here is $100 for your tuition.'”
Having customers, both new and regulars, help Harris achieve her goals certainly kept her motivated, but she had other strategies, like constantly reminding herself what she was working for.
“Even if you’re working in an environment that you love, like the pie shop, I loved it, but I want to be a violinist,” she said. “So I turn the classical music station on, and it reminds me what I’m doing it for.”
Even something as simple as eating healthy and staying in shape helped Harris keep her goals in mind.
“If I don’t exercise, if I don’t get enough sleep within reason, it really pulls on me,” she said.
Writing everything out and getting it out of her head and on paper also helped Harris.
“Whether it’s Google Docs or a little notebook or something, having notes available of what you need to do, a to-do list, is amazing,” she said. “People typically don’t take the time. ‘If I spend the time writing a to-do list, I’m not going to get it done.’ But then they forget. I know because I forget, all the time. So I have so many lists.”
But reminders and lists and notes will only get you so far, Harris said. Sometimes, it all comes down to attitude.
“I’ve always told myself I can do anything, and I can be the best at anything, as long as I try my hardest,” she said, referring to one of her current violin teachers who started when he was 22. He’s since gone through the Boston Conservatory. He now performs at Carnegie Hall and all over the world at 28. “It’s really how hard you work for something, if you’re going to be able to achieve it.”
It would have been impossible for her to reach her goals if she didn’t have so much help along the way, she said, thanking everyone who has sponsored her including the local businesses that she’s worked with and her music teacher, who gave her so much inspiration over the years.
Still raising money
Although Harris is leaving for college, she is still keeping avenues open for people who want to help fund her education.
Those interested can visit her GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/annaharrisbu to donate to her college fund.