Xanthia A. Tucker

Xanthia A. Tucker
Mandi Nyambi

The first thing Xanthia A. Tucker ’13 says after greeting me is that I shouldn’t be intimidated by her appearance. Mindful of the times, she describes herself as being “apocalyptically dressed,” wearing a cream lace dress with black tights, maroon cloth shoes (“10 dollars from Berk’s,” she mentions helpfully when I ask), and whorled, metallic flower-petal earrings that complement her black eyeshadow and dark lipstick.

From the beginning, she anticipates the awkward politeness of the interview with the kind of friendliness that might come across either as youthful sincerity or self-conscious self-consciousness, depending on how cynical you are; but you can tell that when you’re talking, her attention is completely on you.

Hailing from Palo Alto, Calif., Tucker is the daughter of a seismologist and a former seismologist (her mother now works in technology consulting). She is a literature concentrator who lived in Currier House for two years and currently lives in the Dudley Co-Op; she emphatically assures me that the walk to the River “isn’t a big deal at all.”

The first thing people probably notice about Tucker is her first name, which is derived from the ancient Greek town of Xantos, a place renowned for its pure white marble. The same year that Tucker was born, Citroën unveiled its new Xantia model automobile—also named after Xantos, which, as far as Tucker knows, is just a coincidence.

“I was conceived in a Citroën!” she jokes. “No, don’t print that—actually, my parents probably wouldn’t care.”

Tucker swings her head slightly from side to side and her blue eyes widen when something interests her, such as when I ask her what her favorite food is: “roasted beets with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt,” since she is a vegetarian “with few exceptions,” she says.

Tucker mentions the “self-imposed expectation” that Harvard students become deeply engaged in both academic work and extracurricular commitments, and she’s no exception: Tucker is an actress who has played leading and supporting roles in Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club productions, a Freshman Outdoor Program leader and member of the Steering Committee, and a former Writing Center tutor. But, she says, her dream is to become a professional musician.

“Last J-term, my parents asked me what I was planning to do during the summer. I was trying to imagine internships of any kind, but I was depressed at the prospect of an office job,” she says. “But then, I suddenly burst out to my parents, ‘There’s nothing I care about more than music!’ I realized it was true only after I said it, and I feel very lucky to have their support.”

A guitarist, pianist, and singer-songwriter, Tucker hopes to move to France. “I guess I could do with Paris,” she jokes, faux-blasé, and mentions that she’ll try to make a living any way she can, even possibly by teaching outdoor survival skills and English.

“So nice to meet you, Kevin!” she says as we part ways. “It’s Kevin, right? It’d be really uncomfortable if we finished and I said something like, ‘Great to meet you, Nick!’”