From Air Force attorney to professional soccer player, alumna pursues all passions
Anna Rehder Scott ’04 came to St. Olaf College with two specific goals: play for the women’s soccer team and prepare for a career as an attorney.
Nearly two decades later, Scott has turned both of those college goals into successful careers: she is a member of the U.S. Virgin Islands National Soccer Team and serves as a prosecuting attorney for the U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General’s Office and the United States Air Force.
“I take a lot of pride in and feel very lucky to get to put on the Air Force uniform,” says Scott, who is a major in the Air Force. “And I love soccer — everywhere I went with the Air Force, I always found soccer teams.”
Scott played on the St. Olaf women’s soccer team her entire college career. After graduating from St. Olaf, where she majored in political science and German, she attended The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Once she became an attorney, she joined the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. JAG officers fulfill many legal duties of the Air Force, ranging from being prosecutors for criminal misconduct to handling environmental issues.
“The position is one that can have a major impact on people’s lives,” Scott says. “I get to do something that makes a difference.”
About a year into her JAG service, Scott was deployed in 2010 to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, captured members of Al-Qaeda and other suspected terrorists were sent to the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center to await legal proceedings.
“I worked with the investigative agencies that were interviewing detainees at the camps, and I was their legal advisor,” Scott says. “It was a really unique experience.”
In addition to her ongoing work as a senior litigator for the Air Force, Scott is also an assistant attorney general specializing in prosecuting child abuse and sexual violence cases at the U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General’s Office. Previously she was an assistant district attorney for the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office in San Antonio, Texas.
As she has progressed through her impressive legal and military career, Scott has always remained drawn to soccer. She has continued to play on teams, and the sport has played an integral role in some of the most important aspects of her life. It’s how she met her husband, who was playing on a sports social team while she was stationed in San Antonio. His work is what moved their family from Texas to the Virgin Islands two years ago, and that has led to her new role on the National Soccer Team.
“It’s all interrelated,” Scott says.
Just a few months ago, she was asked to play for the U.S. Virgin Islands Women’s National Soccer Team for upcoming World Cup qualifying games and two internal friendly matches. Playing on the team is like an additional part-time job for Scott, but she is grateful she decided to take the risk and make the time to play.
“I think a big part of it is just being open,” Scott says. “You don’t go in expecting this, but if you’re open to what life can do and you’re willing to sometimes take risks, you can do cool things. Short answer: I did not see this coming. Two years ago I couldn’t have told you this is what my life would look like. My daughters have seen me play soccer at a professional level at the age of 40. Now they know that truly anything is possible!”
You don’t go in expecting this, but if you’re open to what life can do and you’re willing to sometimes take risks, you can do cool things. … My daughters have seen me play soccer at a professional level at the age of 40. Now they know that truly anything is possible!Anna Scott ’04
As she balances both her rigorous professional endeavors and her newest soccer commitment, which she says would be impossible without the support of her husband and parents, Scott reflects on her time at St. Olaf — one of the first places that showed her the value of pursuing multiple passions at once. After moving out of the continental U.S., Scott is particularly grateful for the perspective she gained about life outside of the United States while in college.
“The world is bigger than us — we’re just trying to explore it and make positive impacts on it wherever we go,” Scott says. “I think a liberal arts college like St. Olaf teaches us that. We talk about why it’s important to be diverse and learn about a lot of different things, people, cultures. I think that is absolutely a building block for my life and how I’ve approached it.”
The world is bigger than us — we’re just trying to explore it and make positive impacts on it wherever we go. I think a liberal arts college like St. Olaf teaches us that. We talk about why it’s important to be diverse and learn about a lot of different things, people, cultures. I think that is absolutely a building block for my life and how I’ve approached it.Anna Scott ’04
Scott says that college is not about the grades you earn or the GPA you leave with — in fact, she’s now able to laugh about her less-than-stellar performance in a geology course while at St. Olaf. Success can be obtained despite the initial failures that seem insurmountable, she says. She notes that the college experience is about much more than academics — it’s about learning to build lifelong relationships.
“I have friendships from that time that are more valuable than anything in the world,” Scott says. “I have so many good experiences and memories from St. Olaf. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect all the time — just keep doing things that matter.”