Of all my identities, perhaps the one I hold dearest is that of “big brother.” This is why when my younger sister decided to attend boarding school in Massachusetts, my top priority was to attend college close enough to her that I could check-in if needed. Tufts, a mere 30-minute drive from her high school campus, provided the perfect option. Little did I know that I would be walking into my dream scenario at Tufts.
Enamored with the wonders of globalization and cultural exchange, I found myself gravitating towards the International Relations department at Tufts. I immediately started to recognize the wealth of experiences and knowledge that my fellow classmates brought to the table, and the extent to which they engaged with the faculty was intimidating for me. I had positive relationships with my teachers in high school but was fearful that my college professors would not be as willing or able to speak with me about the course material or other related topics. This fear consumed me to the point where I went almost my entire first year at Tufts without meeting with or speaking to any of my professors outside of scheduled class time.
Upon returning to Tufts for my sophomore year, I was determined to break the ice and ask for help when I needed it. I started by speaking with Domonique Johnson, program manager in the Tufts Africana Center, who was able to calm me down and assure me that my professors would be more than happy to meet with me to discuss anything that I needed. This simple push was all that I needed to start building the relationships that would transform my college experience.
Once I realized that my professors truly cared about me and wanted to get to know me, the Tufts community became home. Just in this past semester, I have had conversations with over ten professors, most of whom have never taught me, about topics ranging from the 1936 Olympic Games to Islam in West Africa. The opportunity to explore my interests and engage with such a dedicated and passionate faculty is a privilege I have not taken lightly. My relationships with faculty have allowed me to explore new subject areas, develop my passing thoughts into concrete visions, and expand my support network beyond what I ever could have imagined entering Tufts.
As my sister continues on her journey through high school and begins to narrow down her college list, I think back to my college process and smile. Through my decision to stay close to my sister, I was given another family in Tufts.