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Emily Yu ’13: AU Student Government President

HCAU: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Emily: I'm a proud Virginian, born in DC but raised in Fairfax. Growing up I was a Girl Scout, and in high school I traveled nationally to debate and also did crew. I don't have time to pursue a ton of personal interests, but I'm a huge foodie. I love rallies, street festivals and the like. DC has been a perfect place to get out and about and find interesting street food. I love traveling as well, both domestically and abroad. My family is from Hong Kong so we go back every 2-3 years and take side trips to other parts of Asia, including Japan, Thailand and Taiwan. I'm graduating in 3 years, so I won't really have the time go abroad, but I hope to travel a ton after graduation. My dream trip would be to go to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I'm not a huge sports fan, but I love cheering for the US.


HCAU: What is your major, and why did you choose that field?

Emily: I'm a political science major with a certificate degree from the SPA Leadership Program. Having been an avid debater, captain of my high school's team and nationally ranked at competitions, I spent 4 years falling in love with public policy. I wasn't necessarily interested in politics, but that quickly changed after my first hill internship the summer before college. I decided to stay in the field because, frankly, there's a lot wrong with our country's policies. One day I hope to be an agent of change through work in government and public policymaking.


HCAU: What made you want to get involved in AU Student Government, especially a role as demanding as SG President?

Emily: Surprisingly (at a school filled with high school student council presidents), I had never been involved with student governance. It was really through debate in high school, my decision to come to AU for politics and wanting to find a more practical application for my skills that I decided to run for SG Senate the fall of my freshman year. I already had a slew of ideas on how we could make the student experience better. I kept with SG and eventually decided to run for president. Because as much progress as I had seen and been a part of the last two years in the senate, I knew there was so much more that I could do as president.


HCAU: As SG President, what are some of the most important issues you work on?

Emily: Over the last two years we've seen the problem of student debt explode, not just on campus but at a national and even international level. Having worked on this issue for a full year before running for president, I knew I was best equipped to bring this issue front and center in my advocacy through the important position of president. 


HCAU: What have some of your biggest challenges been in your role as SG president?

Emily: My biggest challenge, which has actually presented itself as the most useful learning experience, is dealing with opposition. I've learned so much at every turn when I've been questioned or challenged. It has helped me grow as a communicator, an advocate and a leader. My biggest challenge has been my biggest blessing, and I hope to use this as a vehicle for personal growth.


HCAU: How has SG impacted your experience as an AU student?

Emily: Serving as SG president is the pinnacle of my college experience. It's such a unique opportunity that allows you to touch all corners of the student body, have an impact with administrators and most importantly, make AU a more united community.


HCAU: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Emily: The most rewarding part by far is the years-long advocacy efforts coming to fruition, especially regarding the University Budget. On a day-to-day basis, my favorite part of my job is walking around campus, catching up with friends and getting new ideas for how SG can better serve them or how I, personally, can do more for them.


HCAU: Will you run for SG president again next year?

Emily: Nope! I'll be graduating in May.


HCAU: Are you involved in any other activities on or off campus?

Emily: I'm a proud Phi Mu sister, SPA Leadership "spleader" and College Republican. I also have a special interest in veterans’ affairs so I work closely with the AU Vets group.  


HCAU: What are your goals for the future, any post-grad plans? What would be your dream career?

Emily: Last fall I ran a state senate campaign in Virginia and became instantly involved with the state and local government. The dynamics of the political stage on those scales are so interesting; I definitely want to work on more campaigns. My dream job post-grad in 2013 is to work on a gubernatorial campaign in Virginia. My dream career would be to work on campaigns for the next 2-3 years and afterwards attend law school and pursue policymaking.


HCAU: Have any advice for AU students?

Emily: Go to every event you get a Facebook invite for. You never know what amazing new people, causes or issues you'll discover on campus. We live in such a dynamic city, so go out on the weekends to explore DC/MD/VA. It's a shame to stay cooped up in the dorms. And vbefriend everyone. During the campaign I easily interacted with more than 2,000 people on campus. I loved every single conversation. Our campus is so special, with 6,000 undergrads living and learning around one big quad. We're kind of like a big high school. Take advantage of our intimate community setting and really make yourself at home. Your college experience is what you make it, and even if you're graduating, it’s definitely not too late to make new friends. AU students are honestly the most genuine and friendly people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, befriending and serving.


HCAU: What’s your best AU memory?

Emily: Giving the convocation speech to the freshman class this August was a very meaningful experience. I really had to reflect on my experience here at AU and distill it into a 5-minute speech about what I love so much about the school and what I hope for them in their AU careers. Not to mention I got a preview of graduation, walking across the stage in my cap and gown! I was very excited to speak to them about my past here, and I'm excited for what the future holds as well.


HCAU: Do you have a favorite spot on campus?

Emily: The Dav is the greatest. I love coffee, and I love running into everyone there. 


HCAU: What is your favorite place in DC?

Emily: I really like wandering around downtown near the Mall, Metro Center, and Farragut areas. There are so many interesting boutiques and shops that I wouldn't have found otherwise. We're so lucky to live in such an amazing city. I love just taking the metro somewhere and getting lost in my exploration. Just be sure to charge your smartphone, so you can find your way back!

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