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She later attended other summer dance programs, known as intensives, at the Harid Conservatory in Florida, which boasts an international faculty of teachers, and the Boston Ballet, one of the most prestigious companies in the nation.
“I was Miss Independent,” Whittemore said. “I loved being on my own and dancing every single day.”
Politics and Performances
Other interests captured Whittemore’s attention as well. During high school, she found herself following the politics of the day, an interest passed down from her father, who was active in local government. She also discovered a love for communication and attended a vocational high school that specialized in media technology.
But with her new fascinations came a serious dancer’s dilemma: how to juggle a rigorous ballet schedule with other passions.
Instead of choosing one over another, Whittemore combined them all.
While training with the Boston Ballet, she sought an internship in the company’s marketing department. The directors were dumbfounded by the young woman’s interest in the administrative side of dance and let her help with cold calls, donations, ticket sales and designing fliers between technique lessons.
During high school, Whittemore participated in Presidential Classroom, a leadership program that brought her to Washington to study politics and the press. She met Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, who talked about his job as the voice of the Defense Department.
The program would inspire her career. As her parents sped her back to New Jersey for her annual ballet exam with a teacher from the London-based Royal Academy of Dance, her mind swirled with thoughts of the media’s role in democracy and the politics of the day.
When looking at colleges, she sought schools where she could major in political communications and still dance. At George Washington University, she could double-major in both her passions. Even better, the school awarded her a dance scholarship.
“When I found out I had received the dance scholarship, I knew GW was a perfect fit because I could study in the field of politics and media and also continue to dance,” she said.
At GW, the bun-head ditched her pointe shoes for bare feet and transitioned to modern dance — a totally different technique that she continues today.
“Ballet was always so floaty in pointe shoes, but modern to me was a new challenge, more grounded and focused on centering in,” she said. “I was always Ballerina Katrina, always turning my feet out when you were supposed to turn in, but I loved it.”
So did her toes, which are now pedicured, sans calluses.
GW’s location couldn’t have been better suited to Whittemore’s career. During college, she worked across Washington’s media scene, freelancing for Fox News, the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation and Cox Communications.
In early 2008, around the time she earned her bachelor’s degree, “Fox News Sunday” hired her full time as a producer. The job offer came just as the presidential election was picking up speed, and Whittemore produced live coverage from the Democratic National Convention in Denver and the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.