When asked to sit down and think about my experience at Tufts, my gut reaction was to say, “I love it here; my classes are challenging, I’m learning a lot, and softball is fun!” The end. As though those three, although true, could in any way speak to the profound impact this institution has had on my life. Before I explain what I mean by that, I’m going to begin with two stories about my time as an engineering undergraduate.
During my sophomore fall semester, I was significantly overtaxed in my workload. This came to the attention of my coaches, who reached out to my dean to check in and discuss the best plan of action for the remainder of the semester. I received an email from my dean later that day requesting that we meet. I was initially extremely apprehensive, fearing that I would be told I wasn't cut out to be an engineer. It had seemed as though no matter what I tried that semester, I was failing exams and just wasn’t getting it. Once I met with my dean and I was able to have a clear understanding of my current course progress, track to graduate and remaining time in the semester, I felt empowered to change my studying techniques and do whatever it took to pull my grades up, with the final goal of passing all five courses (two of which I was failing at the time). Fast forward to now, I have met with my dean regularly since then, receiving invaluable advice and input and accomplished my goal of passing those courses. That semester was the first time I felt ownership of and pride in my accomplishments as a student.
The second story takes place during this semester, my sophomore spring. I was sitting in my Introduction to Environmental Engineering class attempting to comprehend the lecture. I was, however, failing miserably at that particular endeavor. I had gotten to the point in my education where my natural intuition and love of learning wasn’t enough to guarantee me success. As I had seen the previous semester, it was going to take a significant degree of personal ownership and tedious dedication to keep up. After class I emailed my professor, asking if he would take a few minutes to point me in the right direction on the problem set I was struggling to complete. Not only did my professor make time to work with me outside of his and our TAs office hours, he sat with me and worked through each and every problem in conjunction with the relevant lecture notes, ascertaining that I understood each of the concepts. What's even more impressive? He's done this three times now, making accommodations when I have to miss class for athletic commitments.
I could tell countless other stories with very similar plots and takeaways. But, the point I'm making would all be the same. What I really love the most about Tufts is that the individuals described above, the educators that have selflessly invested hours in helping me accomplish my goals, are not the exception; they’re the rule. Deans, professors, TAs, coaches, everyone. I would not be anywhere close to where I am now without this kind of sacrificial dedication to education from some of the most inspiring, humble people I have ever encountered.