As an SMFA student, you get the perk of meeting peers with a wide range of artistic and intellectual interests. The campus atrium makes for an incredible place to find an open seat, introduce yourself, and join a conversation. Perhaps you planned to chat over coffee with a classmate, but you end up leaving your lunch break with 4 or 5 new friends. The student experience is filled with so many opportunities to talk to new people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. There will, however, be inevitable moments where you feel homesick and need people who have an understanding of what you’re going through to ground you. As a Latina and first-gen student, I did not see others like me everywhere I turned, so I had to actively seek out these relationships.
I feel very fortunate to have met allies and mutuals in the United for Immigrant Justice group, a club at Tufts recommended to me by my Latine peer leader, Ivette. From there I was introduced to other SMFA students who were also involved in student organizations and formed connections across campuses. I attended some of the events hosted by the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS), and was drawn to their mission to bring students like me together. My Resident Assistant, Jhona, motivated me to attend the Artists of Color club meetings at SMFA, and now I’m an executive board member for the organization. Finally, I volunteer as a college advisor for high school seniors in the same non-profit that contributed to my own admission to Tufts, Matriculate. By doing so, I’ve been fortunate to meet other Tufts students who are just as passionate about helping low-income high school students get admitted to college.
I’ve discovered most of the organizations I’m currently part of through word of mouth, but a bit of searching on the web or social media can help you find groups that cater to your passions and interests. A photo campaign, giveaway, guest artist talk, game night, music show, or presentation are just some of the events where I’ve met new people. I think it’s all about putting yourself out there! The students here are usually very good at helping you get acquainted and feel welcome, even if you’re way out of your comfort zone.
My biggest piece of advice is to go with the flow and seize every opportunity to connect with others. A small-group trip to Salem, Massachusetts can end up being a large-group when word gets around. You might have made a few too many grilled cheeses and need to share the leftovers, or your mom might have packed you one too many tamales from home and you would hate to see them go bad. Perhaps you’re a dog lover like me and want to plan an evening with others to see the dogs play together at Amory Park. You might find another person working on the same assignment as you in the studio, or a friend who is eager to explore Boston or watch that new movie just as much as you are! You’d be surprised by how quickly you find your people, whether or not you’re looking for them.