On the (very few) occasions that I was able take a break from reading applications in early March, I attended two Tufts Men’s Basketball games for the NCAA tournament (the Sweet 16 game takes place this Friday) and a lecture by Jose Antonio Vargas. The lecture was particularly interesting for both his personal story and also the conversation his work is sparking in our country. Through conversations on the intersections of immigration, race, and sexuality he and his team are redefining the singular notion of who is “American.” While these conversations are hard for some, they are the beginning of a new narrative in our country illustrating that everyone has their own American story. Envisioning a country where race, sexuality, immigration status, and various other identities are openly discussed among peers, rather than being swept under the rug, is inspiring.
While I sat there listening, I recalled some of the moving stories that I’ve read this year and in past years when we ask you to “Let Your Life Speak." Reading the stories of what you, as teenagers, have overcome in your short lives just to be able to present your case to Tufts is motivation in itself to do this work daily. From the first gen student living in a rural area who wants to break the cycle of poverty, to the student who is the only black person in their senior class, to the suburban kid living in a bubble who wants to break out, to the undocumented student who is the valedictorian but worried about their chances of being accepted to a college in the US, to the gay student attending a religious school in a conservative area, please know that you aren’t the only one and that Jose’s work seeks to connect you with your peers who walk in similar shoes.
Connecting a name and narrative to a face is “What makes [me] happy.” It’s truly a powerful moment when you see that a student whose application you remember from years ago is now a college senior prepared to enter the “real world” (not like you weren’t already exposed to it). It’s even better when a student gives me a reason to remember why they were so awesome on paper but even better in person. This happened last week. I had my “Why [work at] Tufts” moment when my intern, who wrote a memorable application, stood up to ask Jose a question. The depth of the question showed a level of engagement in their studies as well as an understanding of the broader landscape that I don’t see in some people 10 years their senior (cough: near my age). Instead of Jose answering the question, he gave the floor to my intern and had them share their personal experience. For a piece of that experience see Renee’s blog here.
P.S. look into Jose’s website #EmergingUS which is a new media digital platform on the intersectionality of American Identity