Faculty and Staff Tackle the Supplement
Each year, we ask students to tackle our supplemental essays in their own voice and style. Why not ask faculty members to do the same? Here, you'll learn about their passions and backgrounds, maybe even finding your own answer to "Why Tufts?" along the way.
"Why Tufts?" (50-100 words)
Abi Williams (F'86, F'87), Director of the Institute for Global Leadership and Professor of the Practice of International Politics at the Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy
Nestled on a hilltop, Tufts provides a special vantage point to view the world. Diverse views, cultures, and stimulating exchanges enlarge your vision. It is a place of inspiration, and a catalyst for new ideas. A sense of mission permeates all. Amid clouds of cynicism it is a beacon of light which pierces the gloom. It is 165 years old but continues to breathe the bold, enterprising spirit of youth, driven by ideas as well as idealism.
It's cool to be smart. Tell us about the subjects or ideas that excite your intellectual curiosity. (200-250 words)
Mary Pat McMahon - Dean of Student Affairs
I'm a history nerd, the kind who frequently gets carried away and thinks everyone else ought to be as excited about how "our past is never even past." As an undergraduate history major, I loved every course, article, paper, and discussion. The Center for the Study of Race and Democracy recently led a walking tour of African-American history at Tufts with Professors Kendra Field, Pearl Robinson, and Jeanne Penvenne that brought to life incredible stories of Tufts students, faculty, and staff members whose perseverance and legacy are truly inspiring. I'm also fascinated by the ways scientific research has upended theories that historians may have widely agreed upon. For example, apparently rats are not responsible for the Bubonic plague after all. Vindication for the rats! And when archaeologists exhumed five-hundred-year-old remains from a parking lot in Leicester, England, I couldn't stop thinking about the ways the bone scans and genetic testing were leading to the conclusion that King Richard III had been found. The Drama and Dance Department staged a production of Shakespeare's Richard III in 2015, and the set design was that Leicester parking lot. It was brilliant.
This semester, I'm co-teaching an Experimental College course called "Hamilton in Context." The senior who is co-teaching with me is an equally obsessive fan. We are primarily reading Ron Chernow's biography and listening to the Broadway soundtrack, but we're also taking a 5:30 AM class trip to see the battle reenactment at the Lexington Battle Green on Patriots' Day in April.
There is a Quaker saying: "Let your life speak." Describe the environment in which you were raised—your family, home, neighborhood, community—and how it influenced the person you are today. (200-250 words)
Abigail McFee, Undergraduate Admissions Counselor
My mother, a California native smelling ever so slightly of patchouli, raised me in a small Nebraska town where I was consistently the only Democrat in my grade. In the blue trailer we bought after my parents separated, nothing occupied its own place: the hallway overflowed with books, the kitchen rattled with a washer and dryer, the wide yard grew mainly weeds. As the sturdy, eccentric center of my Midwest childhood, my mom taught me to appreciate the beauty in incongruity. When she returned to college at age forty, she sat in classrooms with twenty-year-olds who partied in their dorms at night, while she came home as the sun set to my sister and me, carrying The Norton Anthology in the crook of one arm and grocery bags in the other. We read The Importance of Being Earnest on night on the couch: her assignment, my becoming. Past my bedtime, I would devour books through the slit of light at the bottom of my bedroom door, listening for the sound of her footsteps approaching. I fell in love with words recklessly, finding in them an innate ambiguity, an intimate expansiveness, a refusal to mean only one thing. I began to play with the idea of myself as a writer. "Dr. Griffith says that good writers know the rules well enough to break them," my mom told me one day, thumbing through her grammar book. It was a contradiction, like all the other contradictions, that spurred me onward.