Big-Hearted Big Sis

Big-Hearted Big Sis

Jojo, Natalie Anderson and Jazhara
Photo by Julia Davis
December 13, 2019
Mary M. Wood
Julia Davis

Natalie Anderson has always loved kids. During her second year as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, she made it official.

“I realized I hadn’t devoted enough time giving back to the Charlottesville community, even though I had grown to love this place,” said Anderson, now a first-year UVA Law student. She decided to join the Madison House Big Siblings Program, drawn to the idea of a “deeply personal volunteering experience.”

“The program paired me with Jazhara, who was 5 years old at the time, and through her I met Jojo, who was 2,” she said. Now the kids are 10 and 8, and have known Anderson more than half their lives. “Looking back, it’s amazing how many of my favorite memories involve these two kids.”

Jojo, Natalie Anderson and Jazhara

Anderson will often take her little siblings to play at parks around Charlottesville, take them out for ice cream, or play board games. The children love Halloween, so trick-or-treating on the Lawn was an annual must, and she once, with her sister and another undergrad friend, treated the kids to a visit at Great Wolf Lodge.

“We had a blast exploring the water park, playing in the arcade and running around the hotel together,” she said. “More than anything, it’s been a joy to watch them grow into two vibrant, sweet, and respectful little people, and I’m so thankful to have them in my life.”

Even as a busy first-year, Anderson tries to see the children once a week, and “I usually don’t go longer than two weeks without seeing them, mostly because I miss them too much.”

Anderson, who is originally from Oakton, Virginia, worked as a certified public accountant at PwC for a couple years in Tysons Corner after graduation, but turned back to her dream of going to law school. So UVA was an “obvious” choice as she submitted applications.

Jeremy Park, Jazhara, Noelle Anderson, Jojo and Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson ’22, as Glinda, joins Jeremy Park, a 2017 UVA Engineering graduate, and her sister, Noelle Anderson, a 2019 UVA Engineering graduate, in a “Wizard of Oz” Halloween outing on the Lawn with Jazhara and Jojo. Photo by UVA Communications

“I loved the Charlottesville community while I was here as an undergrad, and I was also so excited to be close to Jojo and Jazhara again.”

Anderson plans to join a firm after graduation, but is open to eventually working in public service.

“Whichever path I choose, I hope to make at least a limited use of my experience and interest in accounting and finance because I enjoyed the technical experiences I had in my previous job,” she said.

Anderson also plans to stay in touch with Jazhara and Jojo beyond law school.

“I can’t imagine my life anymore without the two of them being in it. They are my family,” she said.