Alexandra Bell Farr ’13 in Her Journey From Andover to the Military

On Thursday November 10, the Office of Alumni Engagement hosted Andover’s 13th Annual Veterans Day Program and dinner, inviting Captain Alexandra Bell Farr ’13 as a keynote speaker. Following her graduation from Andover, Farr attended the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), where she pursued volleyball, mathematics, and data science.

Farr recounted her pursuit as a military cyber officer after graduating from Andover. Influenced by her father, a West Point alumnus, Farr expressed that her interest in military service bloomed after visiting West Point. According to Farr, although she was initially interested in the school’s volleyball program, the new challenges West Point offered ultimately drew her to the academy.

“I went to visit for the first time during my junior summer, and I was very impressed with the way the cadets carried themselves and West Point’s focus on leadership development in particular. It was an area that I hadn’t necessarily felt like I’d explicitly developed here at Andover, and so I liked the idea of the challenge of that and growing in that area in a way that I didn’t see myself growing at other places at the time. So really through West Point was my path to military service after that,” said Farr.

Farr described the takeaways she learned from Andover, noting that West Point expanded on this knowledge. The school provided Farr with the opportunities beyond her studies to strengthen her morals.

“In unexpected ways, my Andover experience ended up informing my army experience. Andover taught me a lot of diligence and to stay on top of my studies, but then when I got into the military, that diligence transformed into an understanding of my responsibility in the context of a team. Andover also made me very compassionate, and the army pushed that to a different understanding in terms of service. I saw what service and practice looks like in small everyday acts like making sure that you show up for people and small actions to help other people and not these big grand things,” said Farr.

After her Andover and West Point career, Farr went on to work various jobs, such as a data scientist for the United States Army Central Command’s Analysis and Control Element and as a military intelligence executive officer and data scientist for the Defense Digital Service. Farr described her current line of work, which is involved in cyber security, as well as how her journey to said career. 

“In the Army, I started off as a military intelligence officer. I did a little bit of data science work with the military intelligence unit, working to sift through some of their reports because they get a lot of them and helping them try to prioritize which ones were most important, what they needed to see first,” Farr said.  

Farr continued, “[Now, I’ve] transitioned to becoming a cyber officer and I’m heading to a defensive cyber unit. This job [leans] very heavily on data analytics, particularly in the defensive space, [in order] to be able to understand what’s happening on the network because there’s a lot of traffic at any given time. I sift through all that information and see where malicious activity might be and data analysis helps with that.”

Despite everything she has done after her time at Andover, Farr felt that returning to Andover after so many years was like returning to home. Farr reflected on some of her experiences at Andover and advice that she would give her freshman self at Andover. 

“A lot’s changed, but a lot is still the same. I was a very homesick freshman when I first got here, [but] you’ll make it to the other side and you’re gonna love it. I ended up growing at Andover and beyond in a lot of ways I wouldn’t have anticipated. I think to also believe in myself a little bit more for my freshman self to know that you really can do these things. Even if it doesn’t necessarily seem like something you’ve done before or it seems daunting, you can do it,” said Farr.