2022-2023 Student Body Co-President Candidates Q&A: Mackenzie Holian and Yiwen Zhan

As a preview for the upcoming election panel, we asked the five pairs of presidential candidates a few questions in hopes to capture their backgrounds, ambitions, and plans for next year; here is how they responded.

First, what is a fun fact about each of you?

Yiwen: I’ve eaten live termites straight from tree bark in Costa Rica – it tasted like wheat, funnily enough.

Mackenzie: My favorite animal is a shark, and one time in San Diego, I jumped out of a kayak to swim with some sharks on the beach. It was pretty cool!

What are three initiatives that you are looking forward to implementing if elected?

Although we have many initiatives that we are looking forward to implementing, we’d say our top three priorities involve Canvas access and communication between students and faculty, building school spirit and morale, as well as a cap and sash graduation. We’ve spoken more about this in the all-school email that we sent out, which emphasizes our specific and intricate ideas. We also want to emphasize that we are truly listening to student voices and focusing on your guys’ ideas, not just what we want, in order to make next year the best one yet!

What makes you different from other candidates?

We are the only women candidates that are running to be student body presidents together, and one of us being an openly queer woman and the other an Asian woman, we feel that we represent a wide variety of demographics. We are both passionate leaders, as we both run social justice clubs, and we also feel that we advocate for the most realistic ideas: we’ve put in the effort to get our ideas 100% approved and deemed possible by Dr. Johnson, Ms. Brown, and Mr. Williamson.

What made you interested in becoming co-presidents and representing Pingree?

Personally, I’ve (Mackenzie) wanted to run for student body president since freshman year, as being a leader and a community builder is something I’m passionate about. When I was considering who to run with, I knew that I wanted someone not only who I would work well with, but also someone who would truly make the school year fun. It only made sense that I would ask Yiwen, as she’s one of my best friends. From there, we both decided that one of our main goals before graduating from Pingree would be to use the connections and relationships we have made to empower students and uplift their voices. We want to use the leadership experience we’ve already had as a starting point, which is something we grow from only if we were to be elected to be student body presidents.