Building Engagement and Access for Students at Tufts
“BEAST brought us all together, showed us that there are a lot of us on this campus, and that we have a presence.”
Class of 2022
What is pre-orientation?
You might be wondering what pre-orientation is; why would you ever want to come on campus before school starts? At Tufts, it is a program that is typically four days long, right before orientation for incoming freshmen and focuses on various identities and experiences. BEAST is a Pre-Orientation Program through the FIRST Resource Center that works to create support systems for first year students, and eases the transition to college for students supported by the center. The program’s goal is to promote the development of self-awareness and confidence to empower those who are first generation college goers, low income, have undocumented status, or feel they would benefit from the program. Being first-gen makes you the first of your family to attend college, meaning you end up being the first to experience everything that is happening to you in college.
I participated in BEAST as an incoming first year and was one of the coordinator’s the summer after. BEAST opened the door to understanding my first-gen identity and understanding its impact on my experience at Tufts.
Starting college with BEAST
The summer before I started college, I had spent a lot of time and money wanting to dress and act a certain way to hide my first generation and low-income background. My mom wasn’t able to be at move in but part of me was relieved, afraid that I would be judged by other students for her broken English and traditional clothing.
Through BEAST I became part of a larger first-gen community that has taught me to take pride in what I have achieved because of aspects of my identity that I thought were a deficit. Being first-generation and being low-income are parts of my experience, but not the only parts of who I am, they are identifiers that played a role in building my work-ethic and motivation to get through college.
After the impact BEAST had on me as a student, I knew I wanted to bring that impact to other students. I was scared to apply to be coordinator because I was only a freshman and didn’t know if my experience made me qualified. Despite myself doubt I was so lucky to be working with people that strengthened my sense of self and continuously pushed me to grow. From working on the lawn to getting Picante for breakfast, working on BEAST was easily the most fulfilling role I have been a part of thus far.
The process of developing BEAST was one of deep reflections as well as structural admiration. Investing myself in a community that invests in me is how I have felt most productive during my time at Tufts. While constantly viewing higher education from a critical lens, I felt it was important to remind myself of the gems that lie within the system and give me power to actively counteract the issues that seem so much bigger than me.
The impact BEAST has had on me falls into my passion for education and academic career; I’m grateful for this experience for introducing me to people who truly believe in me.