This is a question we asked of you when you sent in your Tufts application, 2019ers. Now that the tables have turned, and you are deciding which school will be your home for the next four years, I will attempt to answer the first question of our supplement. Keep in mind, though, that the true answer would fill a novel and still feel insufficient.
The other day I was at the Tufts gym. I had just finished a grueling workout (sauna session, sit-and-reach stretching, the works) and I was waiting in the lobby for Tom to return from his 8 mile run (we can’t all be as athletic as I am). Spring break had just ended and that meant only one thing – swimming lessons at the Hamilton pool were in full swing. Every spring our swim team volunteers to teach local kids to swim, and it means that on certain afternoons the lobby of the Tufts gym is bustling with dripping wet children in towels that are way too long for them. Such was the case the other day, as I waited for Tom and recovered from four minutes of cardio and one-and-a-half push-ups.
I spotted on the staircase a grandmother of two little swimmers, holding at least three bags, various coats, and a few extra towels. These were draped over her arm as she guided her rambunctious grandchildren toward the locker room. This woman was tiny – as grandmothers often are, except mine, who was maybe 6 feet tall, but that’s beside the point – and the load she was carrying dwarfed her considerably. The kids around her jumped up and down as she teetered down the stairs, balancing her load and making sure they didn’t get in anyone’s way. It was chaos.
At that moment, the football team started pouring out of the weight room and down the stairs. This woman can’t catch a break, I thought, as I watched the teammates - each with at least two feet on this woman, and no doubt hundreds of pounds - begin to descend the staircase behind her. Then the cutest thing happened. Every single time a new posse of football players passed the little swimmers and their grandmother, they would stop and insist on helping. “Do you need help?” they would ask. “Let me take something from you!” Apparently the woman was very proud, because it took three or four offers from three or four players before she accepted help. But when she finally did, watching a lineman sweep the coats and bags from her arms with little to no effort while asking the kids how swimming had gone absolutely made my day. I smiled to myself, but I have to admit I wasn't all that surprised.
Moments like these only confirm what I found to be true before I even decided to attend Tufts. This place is kind. When I toured the Tufts campus just after being admitted, I was desperately lost, and a Tufts Police officer offered to walk me to the admissions building. As we walked and chatted, he stopped intermittently to say hello to students and ask them about their weekend. This place feels like home, I thought to myself. Once I was a student here, I would step out of classes with incredibly brilliant people, still reeling from some eloquent point made by one of my classmates, just to feel that person tap me on the shoulder to tell me how much my point had meant to them. Tufts has an unpretentious quality to it that, to me, always seems at odds with the accomplished and intellectual people that populate its buildings. It is a place where thoughtfulness and humility take precedence, and with each act of kindness I witness I feel more and more grateful for this treasure I've found on a little hill in Medford.
So to answer your question, I chose Tufts because of kindness. And I continue to choose Tufts for the same reason, every day and every trip to the gym.