Anthony Anchelowitz came to Penn as a mechanical engineer but made the switch to cinema studies and communications, all the while juggling his many passions. He told Street about his role in the a cappella community, the most underrated spot on campus, and what every student needs to do before graduating.
Hometown: New Hyde Park, New York
Major: communications and cinema studies
Activities: Counterparts, Friars Senior Society, treasurer of Kinoki Senior Society, Chair of A Cappella Council (ACK)
Street: What was it like being chair of the A Cappella Council?
Anthony Anchelowitz: It was a really incredible experience, because it’s a community that has meant a lot to me over the past four years, but I’ve realized that what it has meant to me over the past four years has been rather insular. So specifically within Counterparts, those people have been my home base. They’re the people that I know are going to be in my life long after I graduate. Specifically being chair of the A Cappella Council has been an incredible learning experience because I’ve gotten to work with not just the people of Counterparts, but all fourteen groups, face–to–face, and see how each individual group brings something special to that community. There’s incredible diversity within the community, and getting to work with all of the leaders and all of the groups has been incredible. And that culminated, when I put together a charity concert that celebrated all of the groups. It was called Raise Your Voice.
Street: How would your friends describe you?
AA: In one word, absurd. Absurd in many different ways.
Street: What’s your favorite part about Penn?
AA: The people. Here I’ve met incredibly passionate and inspiring people that have inspired me to push the bar with what I do. I don’t think I would be where I am at the end of my Penn career if it weren’t for the people who have pushed me to get here.
Street: What’s your least favorite part about Penn?
AA: Is it bad to say the people? The reason why I say that is I think there are some pressures from Penn in terms of—we all say “pre–professionalism” but it’s so far beyond that, in terms of this pressure to do the most or be someone that you’re not. Just to follow a funnel that goes somewhere that everyone else is going. The reason why I say that people are at the same time my favorite is that I’ve been fortunate throughout my Penn career to surround myself with people who don’t fall into that funnel.
Street: You came to Penn as a mechanical engineer, and you’re graduating as a communications and cinema studies major. How did that happen?
AA: Coming from high school, I thought there were essentially four career paths. I thought if you’re good at science, you were going to be a doctor, that if you’re good English and the humanities, you were going to be a lawyer. I was very näive. If you were good at math, you were going to be an engineer. And I was like, math class is cool, whatever. I’m gonna be an engineer, I guess. So I applied to Penn as an engineer, not knowing at all what I was getting myself into, found myself pretty unhappy freshman fall—freshman spring, even. Then it was being in this place of like, well, where do I fit? It was through a lot of talking with upperclassmen and immersing myself in my extracurricular passions that helped me find what I actually love. I found that doing comm. and cinema studies would be the perfect blend of pursuing a major that is both academically stimulating but also tied inherently to my passions.
Street: What are you most passionate about?
AA: I would say at the basis it’s creating things, specifically film. (Ed. note: Alongside a team of many others, Anthony has co–directed and co–produced five music videos with Counterparts.) I think music videos have been a perfect integration of my passion for music, my passion for film, and a whole lot of other things. We have videos that have cool locations, that have dancing, that have elements of fashion. Our most recent video was like a . It was a lot of fun. Working on that video absolutely took a village.
Street: If you had a free day, with nothing to do, what would you do?
AA: Wow! Like, nothing to do? Assuming that traveling wasn’t allowed, I would say catch up on movies. Because with Penn busyness, something that has unfortunately happened is that I’ve fallen behind on movies, and I absolutely love watching movies. I would definitely squeeze as many films as possible into a day.
Street: What should every Penn student do before they graduate?
AA: Do something out of their comfort zone. So if you’re an athlete, see a performing arts show. If you’re a performing arts kid, go to a game. Put yourself in a community on this campus in which you absolutely do not see yourself, and experience it.
Street: If you could tell your freshman self something, what would it be?
AA: It’ll all work out.
Street: What was the last movie you saw?
AA: Oh my god, my housemates and I watched Cadet Kelly recently. It was trash.
Street: What’s the best food truck?
Street: What’s the most underrated spot on campus?
AA: The Inn at Penn study room.
Street: What was your Common App essay about?
AA: My first stage kiss, and how performing has helped me overcome perfectionism.
Street: So how was that kiss?
Street: What’s your favorite movie? I don’t want you to go out with Cadet Kelly.
AA: I don’t want to go out with Cadet Kelly. Favorite movie? Simple. Captain Fantastic.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn…
AA: People who sing collegiate a cappella, and people who are morally obliged to watch their friends sing collegiate a cappella.
Note: this interview has been condensed and edited.