Lucy Lu wanted to go to Marist ever since she was in high school in her native city of Beijing, China. When an international student consulate told her about the studio art programs in Italy, she was hooked. She spent her first year at Marist in Poughkeepsie, anxiously awaiting for her sophomore year when she would finally get to study art in Florence.
But by the time Lucy’s sophomore year rolled around, her plans had changed significantly. After taking a comparative politics class her freshman year with Dr. Langfield, Lucy started to explore the idea of using politics as a means to impact the world.
“When I took [Dr.Langfield’s] class, I realized, this is really cool,” she said. “A lot of the things I was interested in as a kid were actually politics. But I didn’t know back then. The more I studied, the more I was interested. So, I decided to change my major.”
Lucy will be working towards her Master’s in Development Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science upon graduation—and she accreddits great dividends of her success to Dr. Langfield. “She was one of the best political science professors I have ever had in my academic career,” she said. “Without her initial guidance, I would not be who I am today and I would not be on the path of pursuing a Master’s education.”
INTERSECTIONALITY IN PASSIONS AND POLITICS—When she returned from Italy, she was determined to further explore this new interest. She secured a summer internship in Washington D.C. working for The Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press, a non-profit publishing organization that aims to support and increase the amount of women in media.
The summer that Lucy worked for WIFP allowed her not only to discover that she was passionate about women's rights and the rights of marginalized groups, but also that she didn’t have to give up her interest in art in order to pursue politics. Instead, she managed to find an intersection between her two interests as the graphic designer and illustrator at WPIF.
Lucy soon realized that she did not want to define herself by a singular major or interest. As she became increasingly active in politics, she continuously found ways to incorporate her love for art. Last year, she attended the first Women’s March in Washington, where she took compelling photographs of the crowds, which she turned into protest posters. Since then, she has photographed various demonstrations, such as the No ban, No wall protest, the March for Science, and the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest, just to name a few.
Another issue Lucy is passionate about is that of gay rights, something Lucy got to experience on a personal level, when she interned for OutRight Action International—the only LGBTIQ organization that is recognized by the United Nations, and actively works to get the UN Human Rights Commission to acknowledge and rectify LGBTIQ concerns. While there, Lucy served as the development intern, where she got to see a much of the behind the scenes fundraising efforts of the organization.
“It was an interesting experience,” she said. “Many small and medium NGO’s like this one are run on donors.” After getting the opportunity to work with two different nonprofits, Lucy realized that such organizations have the ability to create immense societal impact, and yet they often run on little resources.
To help change this, Lucy hopes to enter the nonprofit field herself, and hopefully return to Asia one day. “My ideal job would be working for an NGO or IGO,” she said. “I would like to be on the ground instead of in a big city. I would like to start on the ground where you interact with the local community, talk to the people, and understand their culture, before designing and launching different development programs.”
Lucy, who is attending graduate school for international development, recognizes the importance of understanding different cultures before trying to help them. In addition to moving from China to the US, Lucy also studied abroad twice during her time at Marist: first in Italy, and later in London through the Hansard program, where she served as the parliamentary assistant to MP Diane Abbott, Shadow Home Secretary.
“My study abroad experience gave me a lot of opportunity to travel, to meet different people. And those experiences definitely expanded my vision and made me understand the world better and from different perspectives,” she said.
Lucy said that being able to see the world from these different perspectives is something she is most proud of, and she wishes everyone at Marist could have a similar experience.
Shan 'Lucy' Lu's Childhood Iamge
Originally from Bejjing, China, Lucy moved to the United States after high school to attend Marist, with a special interest in studying studio art. However, after studying abroad in both Italy and London, she realized that politics was something she had always been interested in, and she decided to change her major. She interned in Parliament while studying in London, and worked for a women's media organization in New York City. Still, she remains an avid artist, and often combines both of her interests by attending protests such as the women's marches and taking photographs. Lucy is passionate about international development and believes the best way to improve communities is by first getting to know their culture, and then helping them to make changes.
“[I could change one thing about Marist], I would make an international politics or global studies class mandatory for everyone,” she said. “One time when I was a freshman there was this girl—she asked me where I’m from. I said, ‘I’m from China.’ She said, ‘I love Tokyo!’ Lucy laughs. “I think it’s important for people to learn more about the world—because I couldn't believe that people with a college education doesn't know the difference between China and Japan.” she said.
Lucy recognizes that being an international student at Marist isn’t always easy. “We have a relatively small international community. A lot of times, when I meet people, and they tell me that I’m the first international student they’ve met at Marist,” she said.
She notes that reaching beyond this small international circle can be difficult, especially when it comes to discussing political issues. “I wish Marist was more politically active and engaged. People here on campus don’t really like to talk about political issues. And people who are vocal are sometimes difficult to talk to in a way, because of the polarization of political ideology. If I had more time here I would try to create a club or organization that would help students to engage more in politics,” she said.
But whether people want to engage in politics or not, Lucy is determined to keep talking. “[I think my friends] would say I’m pretty passionate about what I’m doing. Because sometimes, if I have to talk to them about a poli-sci or contemporary issues, I won’t shut up. I think they would say, I’m determined. If I set my mind to something, I try [my best],” she said.
Lucy’s commitment to advocacy is something her professor Dr. JoAnne Myers got to know very well during the time that she taught Lucy in Intro to Political Theory. “Truly she is an ally for all people looking to gain human rights,” Dr. Myers said. “She is a sponge for knowledge. She listens, thinks critically, and questions. She will be a great human rights advocate—she is gathering up the knowledge and the know-how to be a change agent in her native country, and globally,” she said.
As she prepares to graduate in just a few short months and pursue international development, Lucy is thankful that four years ago, she didn’t set her sights only on art schools, but rather chose a broader path.
“Marist definitely helped me find my passion. In high school, I applied to a bunch of art schools for college. I got into Pratt in NYC, so I always thought I would be an art major. Then, I did an art internship and I realized this was not really what I wanted to do. Marist is the only non-art school that I applied to back then, so [it allowed me] to explore other possibilities and learn more about what I wanted to be. Now, looking back, I really came here pretty clueless about what I wanted to do with my life,” she said.
“My college years were a journey of finding my passion.”