I remember my Tufts info session like it was yesterday. I remember the dude that gave my talk was leaving Tufts to go somewhere on the West coast, that he got harassed at the Banana Republic by parents whose kids didn’t get into Tufts, and that he mentioned how pretty our campus is. But what I remember the most, and I’m quoting here because that’s how vivid this memory is, “Tufts professors will take you by the hand and show you what they’re passionate about—they will guide you in the things they love.” That phrase still wows me, even as a jaded senior, and reminds me exactly why I came here. As a high school senior, I knew a passion laid dormant in me, I knew I had a lot to give—I just didn’t know where all that energy would go and desperately needed guidance.
Three and a half years later I find it ironic that that same passion and guidance led me away from a path and straight into another. I came to Tufts knowing I’d either do serious psychology (like be a psychologist or what not) or something with English (exactly what I didn’t know, all I knew was that my father wanted to murder me for even considering it—guess how much I cared!!!). Freshman spring I decided to overload on classes and throw an English and a Psych class into the mix. A month into the semester I was struggling up a storm and had to drop one, I was more into psychology so I stuck with that. I played around with other humanities courses but at the end of the day I was always drawn to psych. So early on in my sophomore year I made an appointment with a professor in the psych department, ready to declare.
I’d be meeting with Lisa Shin, and I didn’t know this at the time but the woman is a BOSS. When we met, we discussed my workload abroad, grad school (keep in mind this is early in my sophomore fall semester, I had no idea if I’d even be going abroad), and potentially doing research at Harvard. But I hate doing research, I whined. To which she replied, “Have you ever done research? No? Well then how can you say you hate it?” Duh, she’s right ‘cause she’s a boss, but I still left feeling odd. I should have left feeling like OMG THIS PERSON IS GOING TO HELP ME IN MY CAREER AND ITS GOING TO BE AWESOME!! Instead I had ten more items on my to-do list that I wasn’t even 100% sure about.
And then I got mono. Cool, I know. And in the time it took me to recover, I realized I could never be passionate about clinical psychology—I could never do “serious psych” like I thought I wanted to back in high school. Though that was a tough discovery, I realized what I wanted out of a career: what I skills I wanted to use in the future and what environment I wanted to work in. And those tough realizations led me to marketing, the CMS department, and a plethora of internships and opportunities I’m now passionately throwing all of my energy into.
But of all the majors at Tufts, psych still felt right. I later met with Sam Sommers, another BOSS in psychology. I ended up majoring in general psychology with Sommers the legend as my advisor. Little did I know that the only times I would meet with him would be for mandatory meetings or times when I almost lost all composure and considered dropping out of college (true story).
How did that happen, you ask? I’m not entirely sure. I just know that by junior fall I knew what I wanted to do professionally and was well on my way to join the real world, but my education was straight up academia. I was taking two fascinating psych classes… that had almost no practical applications to them, especially in the marketing field. And to top that off, I was taking one of those courses that every psych major is required to take, and though Sommers the legend was my professor, completing assignments for that class (or just making it there on time) made me want to cry. Thankfully I made a friend in the class who kept things in perspective and pushed me along until we both finished the course. Today he’s still one of my best friends (yes, Jack Fleming this is your first blog shout-out, our best friendship is now official).
It sounds like I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. When I hit rock bottom I met with Sam Sommers and told him I was struggling with the major—his passion. And he calmly told me that I was almost done, that I’d be going abroad soon, and encouraged me to have fun with my education because I wouldn’t be in school forever and I’d miss it. I think I cried, I don’t remember (hey, those were rough times!), but I took his advice. Since then I’ve been in his office randomly, reminding him that I’m following what I’m into and making him cringe with how happy I am when I take no psych classes—if he doesn’t hate me it’s kind of a miracle and he seriously deserves an award for putting up with me!
All of that happened about a year ago. Like I said, I followed Sommers’s advice and took a psych break (pun?) while abroad and continued when I got back by taking all CMS classes. Journalism, a class on media and activism, and PR and marketing were incredible academic fun. And as I discussed Bernays, Occupy, and journalism ethics I realized how much I’m truly going to miss this amazing intellectual environment I’m lucky enough to have been a part of for 3 ½ years. This semester I’m taking the last two classes within my major, two classes I have not been looking forward to taking. Yet something strange happened.
I started looking back at my favorite classes, my favorite/most memorable moments in a classroom, my favorite interactions with professors, and everything that sticks out in my mind is in my major. I have learned so much about myself and the people around me over the years because of it. This semester, my psych of music class is absolutely fascinating, so much so that I’m actually dragging my best friend with me so she can witness the glory that is Professor Patel. And you know how my major had nothing to do with my passion? Well it turns out dealing with data in obnoxious required classes is giving me invaluable experience that I’ll need if I ever want to be a decent account planner after I graduate.
I guess towards the middle of my time in college I overdosed on my major, I had too much of a good thing and couldn’t bare the taste of it for a long, long time. As my college career draws to a close, it’s all coming together. If I’m lucky, I’ll be using a lot of what I learned and a lot of the reasons I got into psych in the first place as an account planner at a marketing agency—we’ll see how things work out! Whatever happens, I am incredibly lucky to have found people at Tufts that took me by the hand and showed me their passion, and once I realized theirs wasn’t mine, they supported me completely as I followed mine. So lucky that even though I certainly won’t be a psychologist, I’ll always be a psych major with four years of learning about people under my belt.