A Quiet Strength

Even cancer couldn't stop Anneka Freeman '11 from making the most of her Randolph experience.

Anneka Freeman ’11

Anneka Freeman '11Hometown: Purcellville, Virginia

Majors: English (Creative Writing) and Political Science

Favorite traditions: Secret Societies and Ring Week



The summer before her junior year at Randolph College, Anneka Freeman ’11 caught a bad cold. She noticed her lymph nodes were swollen before she left for the College’s World in Britain study abroad program in Reading, England, but did not think much of it.

Just a few months later during winter break, Freeman sat in a doctor’s office with her mother. “They told me it was thyroid cancer,” she remembered. “I don’t usually break down and cry in front of people. But I did that day. You get these feelings of ‘Why me?’ That kind of thing happens to other people, not to me.”

A double major in English (creative writing) and political science, Freeman had been looking forward to her junior year abroad at Reading University since she was a first-year. That opportunity and the chance to participate in the College’s Greek Play cemented her decision to enroll at Randolph. “I knew about Reading, but when I visited campus and saw how beautiful The Dell was and heard about the plays, I just really fell in love.”

What she did not imagine was how important Randolph’s community would become to her—especially after her cancer treatment and recovery. “I had this wonderful support group,” she said, remembering how professors, friends, and staff members stayed in contact with her. “They made sure I was able to go back to Reading. They made sure I was OK.”

Freeman’s cancer was treatable, and doctors were able to remove it. Just weeks after the surgery, a determined Freeman went back to England. “That was by far the best year of my life,” she said, smiling. “Even with the cancer.”

After graduation in May, Freeman plans to live and work in Northern Virginia. She eventually wants to write full time. But for now, she’s content to just enjoy life. “Cancer really puts things into perspective,” she said. “It helps you figure out what’s really important, and who is really important. You learn to make decisions you won’t regret.”

For Freeman, the thin scar on her neck is a reminder of her own strength. “Being here at Randolph has really taught me the kind of person I want to be, and that has given me confidence in myself. After all that I’ve been through, I know I can do anything.”