For many Tufts undergrads, the sunny days and scents of spring mean one thing: summer is on the way. After wrapping up finals and bidding friends farewell, many will balance internships with beach trips while gearing up for the coming semester’s classes. But for some Jumbos, this time of year means something else entirely: a bittersweet end to the college incubator. For graduating seniors who have spent years mastering political theory, dedicated hours to literary masterpieces, and devoted long days and late nights to labs and problem sets, the “real world” awaits. So, where do they go from here?
“I’m ready to go out in the world and see what I can do with all this stuff,” says senior Mimi Oshinsky. Eager to discover the practical value of eight semesters of hard work, she looks forward to finding “something I truly enjoy that challenges me in a good way.”
While seniors may be leaving campus, the Tufts mentality is sticking with them. With four years of active citizenship and global awareness under their belts, many members of the Class of 2011 are staying true to their Brown and Blue by pursuing futures—or at least interim projects—based on Tufts’ community and international values.
Many grads see global exploration as a way to better understand issues in their prospective fields before entering the professional arena. While Kate Naranjo plans to pursue educational policy professionally, she recognizes the importance of having hands-on familiarity with the issue. “It’s silly to go into policy without having experienced the problem you’re trying to fix,” said Naranjo, who will graduate with a joint psychology and peace and justice studies degree. Naranjo plans to spend the next year working in Boston with the AmeriCorps City Year program for “holistic elementary school improvement.” She likes to think of the year as “a pause button”; an opportunity to figure things out during a period of great transition.
According to Jean Papalia of Career Services, this year’s graduates continue the longstanding tradition of awareness and commitment that are synonymous with Tufts. “We frequently hear students [returning] from their study abroad, saying they would like to work or volunteer overseas after graduation,” Papalia said. “When Tufts students embark on their career pursuit, they think about how their work can benefit the broader community and the world at large.” Since 1961 over 500 Tufts students have joined the Peace Corps, and, according to Papalia, 113 members of the Class of 2010 – eight percent – applied for Teach for America.
Senior Michael Kremer has indeed taken the Tufts spirit of globalism to heart and is moving abroad once the senior week dust has settled. Kremer, an international relations major, is not sure where he’ll be five years from now. Still, he says that he will have “plenty of time to assess the options over the next year” while studying at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad(CASA), a yearlong post-graduate Arabic program in Cairo. The desire to spend more time abroad after graduation was the most important factor motivating Kremer to apply for the fellowship. He is eager to return to Egypt “to witness all the country’s exciting political and social developments firsthand.”
Many other students, including some who plan on joining the field of global health, are also excited to take their service efforts abroad. Nick Levin, a pre-med biology major, will travel to Uganda in September to pioneer a research project about the economic empowerment on the AIDS stigma. Despite the meager pay, Levin took the job because “it is where my interests truly lie.”
August Longino, an IR and Spanish major, has similar medical-related plans for global action. Longino will be moving to Ecuador to work for the Timmy Foundation, an organization that equips medical professionals with resources to help underprivileged communities. After deciding somewhat haphazardly to participate in the Tufts Timmy winter break mission to Guatemala, Levin stayed in touch with the organization and ultimately secured a one-year position co-coordinating the Timmy Medical Brigade program. After that, his plans grow uncertain. “Graduate school is on the horizon, as it seems to be for all IR majors,” he says, “but I’m not sure I will be ready after just one year in the ‘wilds.’”
Like the Jumbos that came before them, this year’s seniors are prepared to embrace life as alumni with the mindset of true global citizens; they understand their responsibilities and value lifelong learning. Equipped with an activist attitude and international insight, the Class of 2011 is ready to show the world what it has to offer.
As former Provost and beloved Professor Sol Gittleman reminds graduates, the values and resources of Tufts University are never too far away: “You paid for the first four years,” he says, “but the next forty are free.”