BY KIM KOZLOWSKI
THE DETROIT NEWS/TNS
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Former President Barack Obama’s younger daughter, Sasha, is poised to begin her college career at the University of Michigan next week.
Sasha, whose legal name is Natasha, was seen by students attending summer freshman orientation and again this week accompanied by men believed to be Secret Service agents.
“I was walking by pushing a vacuum and she walked out right in front of me,” said Zach Lassen, a third-year film student from Redford. “I said, ‘Excuse me.’ It was a crowded hallway with her and some Secret Service dudes.”
Asked what he thought about her on campus, he said some people he worked with were a tad annoyed with the added security.
But Lassen added: “It’s pretty cool.”
Another student, an 18-year-old freshman from Southfield who declined to be named, said Wednesday she saw Obama during her student orientation.
‘A NORMAL STUDENT TO ME’
The woman, who was in UM’s Summer Bridge Scholars Program at the time, said she saw Obama near the university’s undergraduate library.
She said they have mutual friends and said she’s just “a normal student to me.”
Sasha Obama is enrolled for classes that start Tuesday, The Detroit News has learned, which puts her on a path different from her family members: attending a public Big Ten university instead of seeking an Ivy League education.
Her sister, Malia Obama, took a gap year in 2016 before enrolling at Harvard University, where her parents attended law school. Malia Obama begins her third year at Harvard this fall.
Barack Obama — the nation’s 44th president from 2009-17 and the first Black man elected to the office — attended Columbia University in New York City for his undergraduate studies.
Michelle Obama — the former first lady and mother of Sasha and Malia — earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University in New Jersey.
PLENTY OF BUZZ
Speculation about the youngest Obama becoming a Wolverine began after an Instagram social media account attributed to her posted a photo of Sasha and two friends on the Ann Arbor campus. She tagged UM and wrote: “So proud to say I’m going to college with my sisters!!”
UM has a publicly searchable online directory, MCommunity, and a group was created, then disabled, with the name of Natasha Obama, also known as Sasha Obama. Any UM student, staff member or faculty member can create a group in the directory, UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said.
Asked why it had been created, Fitzgerald said it is a disabled email group account, not an individual account. The group was deleted from the database shortly after The News asked about it.
“This group was created in January, perhaps spurred by media reports of Sasha Obama visiting our campus,” Fitzgerald said. “Faculty, staff and students all have the ability to create group accounts in MCommunity. The group is disabled and is in the process of being deleted. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.”
Asked if Obama is enrolled at UM, Fitzgerald declined to comment.
“We cannot confirm the enrollment of any student,” he said. “Classes do not start until next week, and we are weeks away from official enrollment information.”
Caroline Adler Morales, a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama, declined to comment Wednesday.
WISHING HER WELL
New resident move-in for UM students was scheduled for Wednesday through Friday, but a handful of students were on campus Tuesday when Lassen says he bumped into the younger Obama.
Many who were walking around campus said they hadn’t seen her but were excited.
Inside West Quad, a group of students gathered from MLEAD, a week-long leadership program for incoming and returning undergrads living in UM housing. They said they had seen official cars driving around the dorm and wondered if it meant Obama was in town.
Allie McCrum, a UM sophomore from Parma, Michigan, said she was excited that the former president’s daughter planned to attend, calling it an “opportunity for all of us.”
Jessica Brinser, a sophomore from Washington, Michigan, agreed.
“I think it’s cool that even though her family went to Ivy League schools, she decided that UM was the caliber high enough to match that of an Ivy League school,” she said.
Brinser wishes Obama well.
“We hope she finds her fit here just like we all have,” she said. “We all love it here. We hope she does too.”