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How I Met Michelle Wu: The First Asian Woman to be Mayor of Boston

On November 16, 2021, Boston swore in its first woman and first person of color to be mayor and I could not have been more thrilled. For many, Michelle Wu represents “a new Boston.” A new Boston progressing past its history of racial tensions and towards a new era tackling racial, economic, and climate justice. 

Michelle Wu is not only a great politician who will serve tremendously well as the new mayor of Boston, but she is also a great person.

When I was 17 years old, working for my first campaign, I thought that I was completely in over my head. At 17 years old, I felt compelled to jump into the campaign work, but I really had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I needed to be there. I needed to be on the field, doing the work, creating the change that I so desperately wanted to see happen. But again: I was 17, incredibly introverted, and placed in environments where I didn’t feel like I belonged. 

So flash forward to my very first caucus in Hyde Park. If I’m being completely honest, I remember having no idea what the word caucus meant. However, once we got to the event — which I later learned was essentially just a meeting to nominate people to go to the convention — I was given a blue t-shirt, a clipboard, flyers to pass out, a pat on the back, and a “you got this!” from my supervisor. 

Looking back, maybe I did have it, whatever it was that I was supposed to get. At the time, however, I certainly did not feel like I had even a drop of courage. Extremely out of my element and wearing a t-shirt that was a few sizes too big (perhaps there is some kind of poetic symbolism in that), I walked up and down the aisles, offering people a flyer just to offer them a flyer. “What am I even doing here? I asked myself, exhausted, holding a full stack of flyers and a mostly-blank petition. 

I was still passionate about my candidate, and I felt like I could truly convince someone why they should sign the petition to get him on the gubernatorial ballot. Replies of “no, thank you’” and polite nods were followed by me seeing my flyer crumpled up in the recycling bin. But, hey, at least they recycled.

That’s when I saw this woman with the most positive energy in the room, playing with her two sons who were dressed like mini-Tom Bradys. I walked up to her because I felt comfortable doing so, and she welcomed me with open ears, listening intently to every word I was saying. 

She asked me questions like why I was supporting my candidate and truly listened to my explanation. Not only did talking to her reaffirm why I was working, but it made me confident in how I held myself. I belonged in the room that I was in because, like everyone else, I was passionate about making a change. 

Since it was my first real conversation of the day, it mainly consisted of me rambling on and on until I took a second to breathe and actually introduce myself. 

“Nice to meet you, Anna. I’m Michelle.”

-Michelle Wu

Before I go on, I must mention that every time I tell this story to my friends, they ask me how I didn’t realize who she was while talking to her. Trust me: I have no idea. Over the years, I’ve rationalized it by saying that I was generally so tired and nervous that day that my brain didn’t register her face. 

Looking back, I think that maybe I did recognize her, but it didn’t matter. When I walked up to her nearly four years ago, I didn’t feel like I was walking up to Michelle Wu, president of the Boston City Council. Instead, I, a timid 17 year old, walked up the friendliest face in the room. I approached someone who truly heard me out. Oh, and it just happened to be Michelle Wu. 

Personally, I cannot wait to see what she has in store for the next few years. “Madam mayor” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

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Anna Dao

U Mass Amherst '23

Anna Dao is a junior at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, majoring in Legal Studies. She hopes to use writing as a platform for comedic relief, raise awareness for mental health, and short rants on citrus fruits. Follow her on Instagram @anna.dao and Twitter at @annadao19
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