As I sat answering questions on a Jumbo Day panel last week, I grew sentimental. A few dozen prospective students sat in front of us panelists, full of excitement as they leave high school, and ready for college. Their questions prompted reflection upon my time at Tufts, time that is soon coming to a close. The questions ranged from “how’s the food?” to “what is your greatest advice for first-year students?” but the question that struck me the most was “how has Tufts prepared you for your future endeavors?” While I’ve benefitted from many Tufts resources—professors and the career center, to name two—I think the office to which I owe the most is the admissions office.
After over 25 college tours, I stepped foot on Tufts’ campus determined to be a tour guide. Minus the 70 pages of the Tufts tour guide manual that I later had to memorize, I had the tour guide routine down (“If you liked this tour, my name is Emma. If you didn’t, it’s Steve!”). One of the very first things I did was seek out the admissions office, and three rounds of applications and interviews later, I made it big as a volunteer, un-paid tour guide. Through tour guiding, I learned how to improvise and answer the most bizarre questions on the spot. On one of my training tours, I even got asked what kind of electricity Tufts has and from where is it sourced! Needless to say, I did not have the answer for that one. I completed my last training tour the week we got sent home for Covid.
Under many Covid restrictions my sophomore year, they didn’t need me as a tour guide, but I was fortunate enough to come into contact with Rachel Brown, then the Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions in charge of communications for Tufts, who hired me to blog for Jumbo Talk. Throughout the year, I got the chance to practice my writing skills, intermixing the informative with the entertaining to weave a narrative of my life at Tufts. Rachel reached out to the bloggers several times, offering us new opportunities to volunteer for communications projects, opportunities that allowed me to fill my time during the year of quarantine.
That summer, Rachel let me remotely work a few hours a week on her team, trusting me to write for, and edit, Jumbo magazine and to compose email blasts to prospective students. Mid-summer, admissions opened up to tour groups and they brought me back to campus to give tours. As I spoke to groups and conducted communications work daily, I realized that these were the kinds of skills out of which I wanted to build a career. I love writing and speaking, and it’s thanks to admissions that I learned I could make these passions my path.
Before senior year began, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions Njeri Allen reached out to me, inviting me to apply for the senior fellow position. While this position had always been of interest to me, I knew I didn’t have time to hold it in the fall. Njeri coordinated with her supervisors and got special permission for me to hold it for just one semester this spring. Under her, I gained experience with multimedia content creation, leading the other fellows in projects that advanced our research, communications, and editing skills. I also got to interview high school seniors who applied to Tufts, meeting amazing applicants and widening my world perspective. I love being in this role, and if it were not for Njeri’s flexibility, I would have missed out on a lot!
Beyond just skills and experiences, I’ve met incredible people in the department. As a tour guide, I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with Pam Cortese, the Campus Visit Coordinator, on a weekly basis. From helping me find cheap eyeglass stores over the summer, to baking cookies for the tour guides, Pam does the absolute most to make us feel valued and at home. Njeri gave me unique professional development experiences, shedding light on the ins and outs of college admissions. Her laid-back, yet professional attitude fostered community amongst my senior fellow cohort. Most of all, while Rachel has since moved on to work at another institution, she has maintained contact with me and acted as an inspirational role model. Not only did she essentially kickstart my communications work in the office, opening my door to a whole new world, but she continues to meet up with me each semester to catch up and offer professional advice over coffee. I admire her warmth, competence, and drive, and if I can be even half the mentor that she has been to me one day, I will know that I’ve done a good thing.
So, to the random student in the middle of Goddard Chapel who posed the thought-provoking question that prompted this blog, I revoke whatever answer I gave. Tufts Admissions offered me the formative experiences that gave me insight into myself and what I wanted to do, provided me with mentors to guide me, and promoted opportunities that bolstered my oral and written communication skills. And, of course, they granted me admission to Tufts, allowing me to have all of the experiences I have had in the past four years, both internal and external to their department.
To close out my last Jumbo Talk blog, I offer one last piece of Emma’s Advice. My Emma’s advice today is to find strong mentors. My most impactful experiences in college have come from the people who have guided me and the opportunities they have given me to learn more about myself and grow, both as a professional, and as a person. It is the people who comprise the Tufts Admissions team who have helped me prepare the most for my future endeavors, and it is to them that I will forever be grateful.
Thank you, Tufts Admissions, and goodnight.