As president of the Undergraduate Assembly, Michelle Xu has a lot of emails to answer. This week, one of them was from Street. She told us about her experience as president and her time at Penn—which includes blue hair, bacon, and Brits. Meet Michelle:

Name: Michelle Xu

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Major: Mathematical Economics

Activities: The Undergraduate Assembly Student Body President, Oracle Senior Society, Sphinx Senior Society, Student Activities Council Executive Board, Community School Student Partnerships

34th Street Magazine: How has being a part of the UA shaped your experience at Penn?

Michelle Xu: It’s been such a great way to meet a ton of people all at once, like through campaigning, elections, and also, it’s the fastest way to learn how the school works. I think I found so much great exposure to work with not only the students, but also with the administration. It’s super rewarding too, to see all the projects I’ve worked on come to fruition, and really have an impact on students’ lives. Just the experiences from being in leadership this year taught me so many life skills that I’ll definitely take with me forever. 

Street: What made you want to join the UA?

MX: Honestly, in high school, I was really not involved in student government at all so when I was a freshman, I guess I was, like, oh, I don’t know what I’m going to do. People were campaigning already, and I was like, “You know what this seems like kind of fun, I’ll do it.” And I did it and I think in freshman year, it’s kind of a crapshoot who wins, but I had blue hair at the time, and so that might literally be the only reason why I ended up winning, but then I got onto it, and honestly, freshman year completely changed my view on how the student government works and things like that. I had so many great mentors freshman year and after that year, I decided to keep doing it.

Street: What was your favorite thing about Penn?

MX: The people. My college best friends are going to be my lifelong best friends and the experiences that I made here are significant because of these people.

Street: Least favorite?

MX: My least favorite is definitely some aspects of the culture here, for sure. I think that’s something that the UA tries hard to talk about and work against, you know, we’re always talking about how it’s so hyper–competitive here, which is why we were really passionate about working on our club requirement project and making recruitment a lot easier and a lot less competitive this recent year. We ask students not to just pay lip service to mental health, but to actually practice it and actually be involved in different resolves and things like that. For sure, it’s a lot of Penn Face. 

Street: Any advice for the freshmen? 

MX: I’m not old enough to give advice, but just enjoy freshman year. I made so many mistakes freshman year and that’s what freshman year is there for. Like the smoke alarm has gone off because of me—just be okay with making mistakes, just stupid things like that.

Street: Wait, how did you set off the fire alarm? 

MX: I was just cooking bacon and I didn’t know you were supposed to turn on the fan, things like that you learn freshman year, and, like, it’s okay. Be willing to embrace your mistakes. Don’t dye your hair blue, that was hideous.

Street: So, what would you tell your freshman–self? Don’t dye your hair blue?

MX: No, you know what, make the mistakes so you learn. I would’ve probably dyed my hair blue now if I hadn’t freshman year, you know what I mean? It’s okay to make the mistakes as long as you learn. 

Lightening Round:

Street: What’s the most underrated spot on campus? 

MX: Penn Commons, previously Wynn Commons.

Street: Favorite TV show?

MX: Right now, it’s The Crown. It’s so good.

Street: Guilty pleasure?

MX: Not checking my emails for, like, a whole weekend, but I don’t actually do it that often. It’s just my guilty pleasure because I have so many emails.

Street: Role model?

MX: I think all my friends, they’re just so awesome, honestly. 

Street: There are two types of people at Penn… 

MX: People who walk on Locust and people who avoid Locust at all costs.

Street: And you are?

MX: People who avoid Locust at all costs. 


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