First-year Mari Wong: ‘I’m excited to do things I wouldn’t usually do’

Mari Wong stands with a group of new students

Mari Wong (center), 17, is a first-year student from San Mateo, California. (UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)

“I danced in high school until I got an injury, so I’m excited to get back into dance and take classes here. I started dancing in middle school, so pretty late for most kinds of dancers, and I really enjoyed how free-flowing and moving it was. It was a different kind of self-expression. It’s mental, physical, emotional. It’s really personal. In a place like Berkeley, where you have a bunch of different people with all their individual styles, you’re going to get dances that you wouldn’t get anywhere else.

I used to dance jazz, so I’m looking forward to that. But I also want to try hip hop because it’s a very college thing to go. I’m trying Broadway jazz, which is super interesting. My best friend pressured me to do it. She’s going to a musical theater program in New York. I’m just trying new things.

I’m studying political science, and I want to minor in conservation and resource studies because I want to be an environmental lawyer. I feel very responsible as a consumer to do something with my life. I did a lot of community service in high school, so I want to continue to make a difference with something I enjoy. And Berkeley is the best place to do that. There are compost bins everywhere, and everyone is so excited about it.

I’m looking forward to football games. I really like getting excited in a group. My high school wasn’t that spirited because everyone was so competitive and focused on going to college. People didn’t go to school dances because they were doing their homework.

As much as I’m here for education, I’m also here for the social aspect of it. So far, we’ve been having a good time. Everyone from my floor in Unit 1 stayed up until 1 a.m. yesterday just playing Uno. I’m excited to do things I wouldn’t usually do — to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people.”