Like many University freshmen, Troy native Jennifer Hsu flipped through her copy of the maize and blue Welcome Week booklet when she first arrived on campus in the fall of 2004. The annual Gayz Craze on Palmer Field immediately caught her attention.
Now an LSA junior, member of The Order of Angell’s class of 2008 and chair of the Michigan Student Assembly’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Commission, Hsu recalls the impact that event had on the rest of her time here.
“I had never experienced anything like it before,” she said. “It motivated me to become active in the community.”
The next year, Hsu ran for a representative seat in MSA with a new left-wing party, and though she lost, she returned to her post as the LGBT Commission chair and went on to become one of the assembly’s most effective members.
“She was behind so many projects this year and really dedicated a lot of her free time to MSA,” said Justin Paul, former MSA vice president. “She was by far the most active chair of any commission.”
Hsu said she focused primarily on improving the structure of the commission.
“The meetings have become very family-like, very interactive,” she said. “We threw a lot of social events this year to get people more involved, because the more educated they are about us, the more willing they are to fight for our cause.”
Jill Berberich, a member of the LGBT commission who has known Hsu since high school, says Hsu is so effective because she is great with people.
“She organizes rallies, protests, people,” Berberich said. “She is very informed and realizes that these issues affect everyone, not just this one commission.”
Ashley Schwedt, vice chair of the LGBT commission and a close friend of Hsu’s, said her dynamic leadership style has rallied more people than ever to the commission and to the cause.
“We have the largest commission on MSA, and that’s mostly because of her,” she said.
Known as a “doer” among friends, Hsu is also a member of the Stonewall Democrats, the LGBT caucus of the College Democrats and the Student Affairs Advisory Board run by E. Royster Harper, the vice president for student affairs.
“I thrive on problems that need to be fixed and issues that need to be addressed,” she said.
As to life after Ann Arbor, Hsu says she hopes to work for a non-profit organization.
“I never thought I’d be an activist, but now I can’t imagine my life without it,” she said.