Remarks from the September 2nd Matriculation Ceremony for the Tufts University Class of 2025 and our incoming transfer students. Read more about the Class of 2025 on Tufts Now.
Welcome to Tufts.
I am one of the people who had the honor of serving on the Admissions Committee that reviewed your application.
You are each coming to the Hill from a different place:
Some of you navigated your final year of high school via hybrid in-person & remote learning.
Some of you are returning to school from a gap-year.
Some of you are transferring to Tufts after having earned your associate’s degree at a community college, or from colleges and universities that weren’t quite the right fit.
Some of you are on the Tufts campus for the very first time this week.
To all of you, I’m glad you’re here.
You are easily one of the most remarkable entering classes in the history of this university.
As you begin your Tufts journey, I’d like to spend just a few minutes telling you about who you are as a class:
You come to Tufts from Oklahoma City and San Juan, Puerto Rico;
And from Philadelphia, and Calabasas, and Mumbai, India;
You come from Brownsville, Texas, and Grand Forks, North Dakota, and Manila, Philippines;
And from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, and Walnut Creek, California, and Paris, France;
And from right here in Somerville, and Medford, and Boston.
You come from Tokyo, an enormous metropolis of more than 37 million people, and from Waitsfield, Vermont, a town of just 1700 people, where you said you, “spent more time outdoors as a kid than anywhere else. My neighbors were foxes, brooks, maple trees, and a circle of mountains.”
You come from all 50 states across the US, and from dozens of countries around the world.
You are the most ethnically and racially diverse class ever to enroll at Tufts.
More than 200 of you will be the first in your family to graduate from college. I am a first-generation student myself: I see you. You belong here.
More than 100 of you are affiliated with QuestBridge, and dozens of you worked with extraordinary college access organizations like Thrive Scholars, Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America, EMERGE, College Horizons, New Jersey SEEDS, Chicago Scholars, Ron Brown Scholars, Schuler Scholars, and many, many more.
One of you competed in this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo. Impressively enough, that was your second Olympics!
One of you won the ‘People’s Choice Award’ in the inaugural New England Cellphone Film Festival for your short film about the community of soccer devotees in your home neighborhood of East Boston.
One of you started ‘Kindness Awareness Week’ at your school.
One of you is an artist, and self-taught fashion designer and seamstress, who runs your own small business making custom clothing with a focus on sustainability.
One of you was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for an acting role.
One of you has long been part of the Tufts community, as a member of TEAM Impact, an organization founded by Tufts alums that helps young people navigate the emotional and social challenges of their serious illnesses by matching them with college athletic teams for mentorship and fellowship. Your fellow Jumbos on our football team are thrilled that you’re here. So am I.
Before transferring to Tufts, one of you worked as a commercial fisherman off the coast of Massachusetts for more than a decade - a profession that steered you toward your interest in environmental law.
One of you was selected as one of 12 cellists nationally for the All-National Honor Orchestra.
One of you did a senior-year research project exploring how to design inclusive and intersectional LGBTQ+ characters in animated television.
And one of you is a National Finalist on this season of the American Ninja Warrior tv show. Thanks for wearing your Tufts Engineering shirt on the show this week!
Many of you listed ‘eldest sibling’ or ‘family caregiver’ as your most important extracurricular activity - thank you for taking care of your family.
Today, all of you are Jumbos.
You wrote essays that offered us windows into your world. Among hundreds of topics:
you wrote about finding your voice through the Black Lives Matter movement
you wrote about the debt of gratitude you owe to the disability advocates that made this world more inclusive and accessible for you, and that inspired your own interest in disability activism
you wrote about financial hardship, either newly wrought by the pandemic, or an ongoing fixture of your everyday life
you wrote about translating documents and meetings between English and the languages your parents and grandparents speak
and you wrote about your mental health, and how much more important that health has become as you navigated the last few years
Of course, many of you wrote about the trauma of the coronavirus pandemic. In one of the most memorable essays I read about the pandemic’s impact, one that very effectively distilled the sentiments I read from many of you, one of you wrote:
“Towards the middle of the summer [of 2020], I think it was apparent that I had, in some ways, lost myself. In the midst of a pandemic, I felt insignificant in a world where I had previously blossomed in the classroom and on the field. I was forced to temporarily give up the things I loved, and in one way or another, lost relationships with people who I thought would be in my life forever…”
You went on to write that one night in early July last summer, you and your best friend drove to a local ice cream shop together. That then became the thing you did every night together.
You wrote: “Our daily trips [to the ice cream shop] would go one of two ways: we would either blow out [the] car speakers with our favorite songs and scream the lyrics until our throats were raw, or we’d play the saddest songs we could think of and cry the entire drive there.”
You concluded your essay by writing: “...the solace I found in my friend’s car anchored me down during a time in which I felt as though a small gust of wind could barrel me over. I now recognize how important strong relationships are when enduring life’s toughest challenges.”
I couldn’t agree more.
A frequent theme of your essays was about a renewed appreciation for your relationships with other people, for connecting with others, and how those connections - whether virtual or in-person - gave you hope.
As you begin your time at Tufts, please know that at some point each of you will be someone’s anchor, their sounding board, their cheerleader and champion, their colleague on a research project, their art critic and collaborator, their roommate, and even their best friend.
Each of you is coming to Tufts from a different place, and in a few short years, each of you will move on to different places. While you’re here on our campus together, make connections with the people that make up this diverse community - after all, each of you is endlessly fascinating. Find the people you instantly gel with, and get to know and learn from the people you think might be nothing like you. Celebrate one another. Take a risk and say hi to that person that intrigues you. Push each other to be better and to do better. And never lose sight of the magic each of you brings to this community, your new home.
I will close with this: Every single one of you has earned your seat here at Tufts - for your academic accomplishments and potential, and for your collaborative orientation, your civic and community engagement, and the unique voice you bring to this community. And you did so from the largest and most competitive applicant pool we have ever received. Congratulations. Tufts is a better place because you are here.
Welcome to Tufts.