13 Questions – Ana Kenefick
They say “burning the candle at both ends makes the room brighter.” Actually I’m making up this quote, but after you read about the Department of Materials Science and Engineering senior Ana Kenefick, you’ll understand why. In addition to her academic workload, Kenefick is a member of the Penn Women’s Gymnastics’ Team where she’s nailed a 9.75 on the uneven bars twice in competition. She’s also landed internships over the last two years and it appears there’s no stopping this North Carolina native. I was able to slow her down for a few minutes to provide responses to our MSE 13 question series.
1. Your name? What name, names do you go by?
Ana, no nicknames
2. What is your favorite color?
Gotta’ show some school spirit and say red and blue!
3. What was the last book that you read?
Rise by Lindsey Vonn
4. The sport of gymnastics, aside from being awesome, appears daredevilish, propelling your body in the air with such force to accomplish amazing feats of athleticism. I’m envious and quite the scaredy-cat when it comes to conditioning my body in any way other than sitting on a couch. What is your favorite exercise to compete in and why?
I love all the events and picking one is like picking a favorite child! If I had to choose though, I would say my favorite event to compete is bars. I think it’s the event that has come most easily to me, and I just love the feeling of swinging upside down.
5. How many training hours do you put in per season?
Typically 20 hours per week
6. How did you get your start in gymnastics? Was it the influence of past Olympians, or was it a hobby that turned into something more?
It’s a funny story, actually. My club gymnastics coach saw my twin sister and I swimming in a neighborhood swim meet, went up to my mom, and said “I don’t think they’re going to be swimmers, but they should try gymnastics, here’s my business card”. Her prediction wasn’t totally off base since we couldn’t even finish one lap without holding on to the lane line to catch our breath!
7. You’ve kept busy for the last two summers, interning at different corporations. Can you share the experience of what you learned and what you enjoyed about your internships?
In the summer of 2022, I worked at a lithium plant as a chemical engineering intern in the Capital Projects Department. This past summer, I worked as a technology consultant for Ernst and Young. While the tasks required for each job were quite different, I learned from both experiences that showing a willingness to learn is one of the most important attributes for success.
8. You had a rough turn of events last season. Would you mind discussing your injury and your decision to continue on to compete?
I injured my ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in October of last year. After wearing a brace and doing physical therapy, I was able to compete twice towards the end of last season. However, once the season was over, I went back to the doctor for a follow up and was told I had to get Tommy John surgery. I am slowly getting back into training now and am looking forward to competing this season starting in January! My decision to go through with the surgery and recovery process was motivated by my pure love for the sport. I love the feeling of flipping upside down (what an odd statement, but it’s true!) and love how gymnastics has shaped who I am. To me, trying to comeback, despite the unknowns, was the only way I could feel settled and satisfied that I had given my all.
9. How did you end up at Penn? What fascinates you about engineering?
I ended up at Penn because between the rigorous academics, great gymnastics program, and beautiful campus, it was a no brainer. Engineering is very systematic and rooted in math and science, yet when it’s combined with innovation, it can produce game-changing solutions to real-life problems.
10. What individual or moment has had the greatest impact on your life?
This is a hard question because I am surrounded by people who have greatly impacted my life and whose influence continues to shape my values and perspective. I would say that my Penn Gymnastics coaches have been especially important pillars of my support system because they have helped me grow personally, beyond the gym. I will forever be grateful for their honesty, sincere care, and unconditional support.
11. Which talent would you most like to have?
I’m not sure if you call this a talent, but I would really love the ability to stay up late. I am definitely an early bird and not a night owl. When I get home, I’m ready to eat dinner, shower, and go to bed but sometimes I have work I need to get done and it’s such a struggle to finish it!
12. If you were given two options: The gift of $1,000,000, or the opportunity to go back in time to relive your life, knowing what you know now, which option would you take?
I would take the $1 million because I don’t think I would want to go back in time to relive my life. While there have been valleys and then even deeper valleys, I am grateful for the skills and perspectives I have gained along the way that I hope to use to help me overcome the next obstacles and keep moving forward. If I relived my life knowing what I know now, I think I probably would make different decisions than the first go around, but it would make for a boring and stagnant life.
13. What is your motto?
Hard days count twice. This is part of a quote from a CrossFit athlete named Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir. It reminds me to keep my head up and stay gritty because it is in these tough moments that I have the opportunity to build the strength needed to overcome the challenges ahead.
Previous 13 Questions Guests