Shaan Merchant '19
Media and Politics (Interdisciplinary Studies) and Spanish Double Major from Nashville, TN
Shaan brings a mix of humor and reflection into everything he does, including his remixed supplement. On campus, he's a tour guide, in charge of Synaptic Scholars, and a member of the EBoard of Tisch Council of Philanthropic Leadership. Off campus, he gives weekly food tours of the North End and interned for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (casual).
What excites you about Tufts' intellectually playful community? In short, "Why Tufts?" (200-250 words)
I strolled down the leaf-lined Talbot Ave. and took a life-changing bite: the best popcorn I had ever had. That was the first line to the “Why Tufts” essay I wrote four years ago; clearly I was trying pretty hard—just look at that alliteration. In it, I explained how I really didn’t want to go to Tufts (maybe not the best idea in retrospect?) because my older sister was here. But after my parents dragged me to her Family Weekend, I begrudgingly, wholeheartedly fell in love. What stood out to me then, and continues to, are the people. When answering this question on my tours, my go-to line—whose parallel structure makes all the moms love me—is: “Tufts is where students take what they do seriously, but don’t take themselves seriously.” For me, this line, which I undoubtedly hijacked from an older guide, exemplifies why I love Tufts. Everyone has unique and fascinating intellectual interests which they pursue passionately through their academics, exciting internships, and research, and yet students aren’t afraid to be goofy, ask questions, and have fun. Every Family Weekend, I still try to snake my way through the crowds of proud parents and upbeat undergrads to take a bag of that perfect popcorn—I don’t know how they do it—and recognize just how life-changing that popcorn was: Without it, I might not know these extraordinary, kind people.
Whether you've built blanket forts or circuit boards, created slam poetry or mixed media installations, tell us: What have you invented, engineered, produced, or designed? Or what do you hope to?*
“For dessert, how about a black pepper, cocoa nib ice cream with stout caramel? That’s the bitter course.” My housemate and I sat with notebooks and child-like excitement planning our next “Dinner Concept.” Since sharing an off-campus house, we have hosted these dinners once a month, a “concept” we designed, inviting six peers from different circles at Tufts to meet, and hopefully bond, over multi-course meals with wine pairings (when legal, of course). The theme behind this dinner was to have each course epitomize one flavor: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, spicy, and umami. Aside from sharing (hopefully) delicious food, our goal is to create a space for students to cultivate new bonds. Given the geniality of Tufts’ students, the bonds come naturally—all we have to do is set the table. The relationships I have created define my Tufts experience: not only the special relationships with my peers—friendships that have helped me grow, laugh, question myself, and make lasting memories—but also those with staff and faculty. My relationship with my incredible Sociology professor led to us travelling to Oslo, Norway, to present research and eat salmon. The warm hugs and sunny smile of Idah, a Tufts Dining icon, never cease to make my day brighter. When my childhood dog passed, my Spanish professor was quick to bring Elvis, her majestic basset hound, to campus to lift my spirits. Each of these relationships has its own flavor, and like any good meal, my Tufts experience would not be complete without all of them.
*Want to see other options for the second question on our supplemental application? Click here.