When I heard the name Tufts for the first time, I immediately thought of the noun tuft, which is synonymous with the word collection. Don’t get me wrong, I just really didn’t know much about schools in the United States in general!
Growing up in a small Brazilian village named after a common tree that grows there, Janaúba, I knew very little about studying abroad. The only schools I knew were Harvard and Stanford, and not because of their quality, but because some character on a TV show that I liked had mentioned their names -- who doesn’t remember that Sam from Supernatural went to Stanford? Studying abroad was just a distant dream for me.
In 2017, things started to change. I was selected for a mentoring program called Opportunity Funds funded by the U.S. Department of State oversees. As a member of the cohort, I had access to mentors and financial aid to apply to schools in the U.S. During an orientation session, they mentioned Tufts as a school that meets 100% of students’ financial need regardless of citizenship status. As an FGLI (first-generation, low-income) student, I was looking for schools that could offer me a full scholarship - and Tufts sounded like a good fit.
As an international student, I could not visit the Tufts campus before applying. I had no idea what it looked like. After searching online, I found the Tufts website and did the virtual tour. I was impressed by the facilities, and the campus was just the perfect size. I have social anxiety, so I knew crowded campuses would not work for me. Do you know that feeling of people observing you? Now, imagine that enhanced 1000 times. So, the fact that the campus was medium-sized made Tufts gain some more points with me.
As an FGLI trying to make money, I was also looking for schools with a good Department of Economics, and I saw that Tufts had recently become a target school for financial market companies. Also, I got intrigued by the fact that the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy was based on the Medford/Somerville campus. The proximity to one of the best schools of International Affairs was very exciting - although as soon as I took Introduction to Psychology with Professors Sommers and Shin, my life changed completely and now I actually study Engineering Psychology.
The point here is that I relied heavily on what I saw on the Tufts website - honestly, one of the best school websites in the United States. I was so fascinated with the number of opportunities I could have at Tufts that I started planning scenarios. I envisioned myself as a Tisch Scholar working at a community-based organization dedicated to helping immigrant communities in the greater Boston area. I pictured myself doing research with one of my favorite professors, Dr. Holly Taylor from the Psychology Department. I even started watching YouTubers that went to Tufts, so I could see more about social life on campus - I got very excited about the parties at the International House.
Things got exciting after I arrived on campus. I started to do everything I had planned. I met the faculty members I wanted to meet, and used the resources I spent hours searching for to write my “Why Tufts?” essay. In fact, studying at Tufts feels like I am constantly experiencing everything I dreamed of. The extracurricular activities and endless opportunities are out there and knowing that I just have to look for them makes me very happy about the choice I made in coming to this school. At Tufts, I feel in charge of my education.