Michelle Li, '17 (center), poses with fellow members of the Chinese Student Scholars Association.

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Michelle Li, ’17, enjoys choir, game nights at University of San Diego

Michelle Li, ‘17, attends the University of San Diego. She is considering a major in business or economics and a minor in math.


Q: Has USD lived up to your expectations so far?

A: Yes. (USD) is close to the beach, and (I) can hang out there. The weather is also great. It’s 70 degrees all year (round) with little rain.  

I like the social environment here. The people are all nice. (There’s) less competition, and our campus is so beautiful that it makes me happy and proud every day.


(Photo used by permission of Li)
Michelle Li, ’17, center, poses with fellow members of the Chinese Student and Scholars Association.

Q: USD was founded by Bishop Charles Francis Buddy of the Diocese of San Diego and Mother Rosalie Hill of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Is the Catholic atmosphere evident in the school?

A: (There) is a church and (an optional) mass every Sunday, I think. The building structure is also Catholic.  

I personally don’t have any religious background, and I don’t feel uncomfortable here. I think (USD) is pretty open to people (of) different religions.


Q: I’ve heard USD has some traditions during their orientation. Did you participate in any?

A: We had a freshman icebreaker game at the volleyball field. The entire freshman class plays games to get (to) know each other better.

There are (also) parties at night with a concert band, henna, food and a photo booth.

There was an international student game night, too. We had pizza, board games, video games and played billiards.

Also, there was a harbor cruise party for international students. There was a DJ and we could see the sunset, which was totally fun.

Plus, we met with our RA and SA (Residential Assistant and Scholastic Assistant), who help us throughout the year.


Q: Are there any other campus traditions?

A: People clap when someone (drops) their plates in SLP, the café at USD, and there is a sign on the first floor of Maher (a building) that people cannot step on. (If they do), they won’t graduate in four years.


Q: Have you participated in clubs or extracurriculars?

A: I signed up for lots of clubs such as the Chinese Student and Scholars Association, the International Student Association and the Changemaker Club (a six-year-old club focused on finding sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems).

We haven’t done anything except (hang) out with food and participate in games, but I think it’s going to (get) more fun.


(Photo used by permission of Li)
Michelle Li, ’17, center, and other members of the Chinese Student and Scholars Association participate in a game similar to the Korean TV show “Running Man,” according to Li. “You have your name tag stuck on your back, and people who lose their name tags (are) out,” Li said. “You pull others’ name tags until time is up, (then) see how many people in your group ‘survived.’ The winner will get the moon cake as a reward because (we play this) during the Chinese mid-Autumn festival.”

Q: You were involved with choir last year. Are you part of a choir?

A: Yes, I am part of the concert choir this year, which has more than 50 people, including men.

We practice twice a week for 80 minutes each time, and there are three concerts this semester. It counts for one credit each semester.

I love it. It’s a community; we all share the same interests. It’s also a bigger choir than (that of) Country Day, so that is fun. The instructors are nice, too.  


Q: What’s  your housing like?

A: I asked for a double but ended up getting a single called Missions B in the valley. (I) have to climb up (to USD) every day for food or classes.

The good thing is that (I am) near the (campus) gym and café. It’s also (a) better living environment. It’s isolated, but we have (a) little community (here). Even though I live in a single, I (still) get to talk to the girls on my floor and hang out with them.  

I like staying in a single because there (is) more freedom and personal space. It’s always quiet and comfortable to live on your own. The room is a little bit small compared to a double, though.


Q: What are your favorite and least favorite classes?

A: My favorite class is Intro to Economics. Since I took (math teacher Chris Millsback’s) class last year at Country Day, it’s so much easier. The professor always gives us articles to relate real life to our theory.

My least favorite class is computer science. It’s my first time taking it, and the professor is going so fast!


Q: Is it easy to travel from campus to San Diego or other cities nearby?

A: I usually take an Uber or carpool with some of my friends who have cars to grab a meal or go the beach.

You can also take the train or drive for two hours to go to (Los Angeles) over the weekend.  


Q: Are you planning to attend the homecoming game?

A: I’m definitely (going to) the homecoming game. I’ve heard that USD has a good volleyball team.  


Q: What is your advice for the class of 2018?

A: Trust yourself (in doing) things. (It) may be a new challenge to live on your own, but try to figure things out little by little.

Don’t push things back and wait until the last minute; there is no such thing as the “Country Day deadline” anymore. Find someone to help you when you need (it). There are always resources on campus. Try to take advantage (of) them.

But for now, just go through the college research process. Think (about) what you value the most in colleges –  ranking, sports or majors.  

Don’t panic. No matter where you go, it will be the right place to you. I had never thought about going to a liberal school with a Catholic atmosphere, but I ended up falling in love with it.


  • Food: ☆☆☆☆☆
  • School Spirit: ☆☆☆☆
  • Location: ☆☆☆☆
  • Clubs: ☆☆☆☆

—By Héloïse Schep


Print Friendly, PDF & Email