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Student Profile: Jessica Blough

Jessica Blough

“When I was touring colleges, I was struck by the sense of community and cooperation at Tufts, especially compared to some of the bigger schools that I was considering,” freshman Jessica Blough reminisces. Jessica is from Los Gatos, California, so community was extremely important throughout her college search. This isn’t unlike other Tufts students – with over 60 countries and all 50 states represented on campus, students travel far and wide to be at the Medford/Somerville campus. Now, as Jessica completes her first year, Tufts is a very special place for Jessica. “It’s not just home to me,” she explains, “but it’s also home to some of my best friends.”

Jessica met many of her friends through different groups on campus, like Tufts Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and her job on campus. “During my first week at Tufts, I mentioned to the Tisch College Student Outreach Coordinator that I was interested in journalism, and she got me a job in communications at Tisch College,” Jessica says. Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life is Tufts’ community service and outreach outlet on campus. Jessica has met a variety of students through these different groups, especially older students who provided her with advice and support throughout her college transition. Jessica appreciates that Tufts, in these ways, is a place that caters to an individual’s interests and passions.

Growing up in Los Gatos, Jessica was extremely passionate about print journalism. During her senior year, she was an editor-in-chief of El Gato News, the award-winning Los Gats High School newspaper. She’s written about every topic, from analyzing rape culture to reviewing Adele’s 25 (2015). Now, as an Assistant News Editor for The Tufts Daily, Tufts’ daily newspaper, Jessica thrives in both writing and reporting, taking classes like Intermediate Journalism and working a feature story about Boston’s Muslim community. “Tufts doesn’t have a journalism major, so there have been many times when I’ve felt a little lost in regard to how to study what I’m passionate about,” she says. Despite this, she finds that she is able to learn about different topics that she’s interested and explore journalism through other avenues, like The Tufts Daily. This semester alone, she interviewed United States Senator Susan Collins and met political journalist Katy Tur. “I get to write and report on subjects that I care about. I wouldn’t have had these opportunities at a bigger school or on a bigger newspaper,” Jessica explains.

Although she is currently undeclared, Jessica is exploring different options for her major. “I’m looking forward to meeting more professors and faculty at Tufts who want to guide me through this process, and to meeting more passionate people,” she says. She believes Tufts’ fantastic network, both through students and alumni, will continue to teach her more about what she wants for her future. As Jessica continues her undergraduate education, her next three years at Tufts look incredibly bright, not only because of the resources Tufts has to offer, but also Jessica’s own individuality and curiosity.

Student Profile: Cassidy Olsen

Cassidy Olsen

Senior year can be a time for seniors to reminisce on their undergraduate experience and their years at Tufts University. It’s a whirlwind of a year, where anxiety about the future can hang overhead. Cassidy Olsen admits that she has yet to reflect on her four years at Tufts, but believes that reflection will come in due time. “I think that with some distance, I’ll have a better sense of how my communities here have shaped me,” Cassidy says. While this may be true, she still remembers her decision to choose Tufts, a decision she made because Tufts “was a place of endless possibilities.” Now, as Cassidy prepares to graduate, she finds that there are many unique elements to her undergraduate career.

Cassidy is an English major, but she believes she should’ve been a Film and Media Studies major. “Look back to my common app essay and you’ll see a big, blinking sign that says, ‘FILM MAJOR’,” Cassidy explains. While she isn’t sure why she ignored this, she is sure that she made the most of the opportunities she had. Cassidy loved the variety of classes she took and the subjects she learned about, from philosophy to political science and oceanography. This liberal arts education, something Tufts prides itself on, helped guide Cassidy to the path she is on now. Like many Tufts students, Cassidy doesn’t just have one passion. “I love learning about a lot of things, and throughout my college career I’ve maintained that I don’t have one particular passion,” she explains. With this came the opportunity for Cassidy to explore a variety of areas and, to be quite honest, she’s done well in all of them, particularly in journalism.

As an Arts and Living editor for The Tufts Daily, Tufts’ daily student newspaper, Cassidy has worked with students across campus and written pieces ranging from film reviews to interviews of local flower shops. Her writing is informed and researched, but never precocious. Despite being such a strong writer and researcher, Cassidy reveals that most of her friends aren’t English majors. Instead, they’re from a variety of backgrounds. “My closest friends are pre-med students, are software engineers, are activists, are teachers–my time here would be nothing without them, and we each support one another by championing what makes us different,” she says. Cassidy believes her lack of connection to other English majors is a sign of Tufts’ dedication to individuality, to giving students a world to explore outside of the traditional academic bubble.

What is most notable about Cassidy is her kindness, her ability to make everyone feel valued in a space, something multiple Arts writers have expressed throughout the years working with her. While she is anxious about her future, Cassidy brings all of these wonderful qualities with her wherever she goes. “For me, college has been about exploration and developing an understanding of who I am, what I want, and how I fit into the world as it exists now,” Cassidy explains. She is hopeful that Tufts will develop further in both career opportunities and empowerment of all people on campus, particularly undergraduates and workers. Now, as Cassidy begins to glimpse back at her last four years, she expresses excitement to take her “newfound knowledge out for a spin.” In truth, anyone would be lucky to join Cassidy on that drive into her bright future.

Student Profile: John Fedak

John Fedak

“I chose Tufts because it was the only school where the people actually seemed interesting,” junior John Fedak reminisces. From the moment John visited campus, he found that Tufts students had a balance between their academic passions and their social lives. This balance was important to him and now, three years later, John is surrounded by friends that have become his second family, professors that have guided him, and new and interesting people that he meets every day.

John is an English major and has an intense personal passion for reading and writing. “I use both critical reading and in-depth analysis skills on a daily basis,” John says. As an Arts section editor for The Tufts Daily, Tufts University’s daily newspaper, John regularly writes his own pieces and edits pieces from across the Tufts community. His variety of courses, from literature surveys to in-depth analyses of themes in different pieces of writings, has not only given John a better understanding and appreciation of English, but also improved his writing skills. John loves that Tufts is incredibly open to all types of possibilities and options, especially with his academics.

Inside the classroom, John finds that Tufts is unique its emphasis on one-on-one relationships, especially with resources on campus and professors. He appreciates that many of his classes have been smaller in size, allowing students to communicate informally with each other and professors. “Tufts helps me thrive as an individual in a larger community,” John says. “I’m able to choose where I want to direct my energy inside and outside of the classroom.”

In terms of his social life and extracurricular activities, John is heavily involved. From being a member of Tufts’ Pi Rho Omega chapter to supervising the call center on campus to the previously mentioned The Tufts Daily, John is active on campus, something he finds rewarding. “By giving me the freedom to participate in groups I actually care about, I’m able to give back to the larger community as a result of my genuine contributions to different organizations,” John says. Last semester, like many of Tufts’ students, John studied abroad in Japan. He’s always wanted to study abroad, especially in such a beautiful country and he found that his study abroad experience was incredibly impactful. “Experiencing another culture, a different culture, is something that changed my outlook on people in general,” John explains. Despite his love for his study abroad experience, John found it difficult to adapt to the language and being so far away from home.

John is originally from Medfield, Massachusetts, less than an hour drive from Tufts’ Medford/Somerville campus. He enjoys how close he is to home, yet also likes that Boston and a new world of opportunities are readily available for him. “I’m excited to be able to work with people, and to be able to use my analytical skills in the context of social settings,” John says, looking forward to job opportunities. In this way, John is ready to take the skills Tufts gave him into his future.

Faculty Profile: Virginia Hart

Virginia Hart

Virginia Hart’s first impression of Tufts was a strong sense of community. When she first came onto Tufts’ campus, she remembers feeling like collaboration and support were cores of Tufts. Now, as an Admissions Counselor and the manager of the tour guide program, lunch hosts, and class visits, Virginia sees that community at Tufts is rooted in its students but grows beyond, reaching every department and section of campus.

Virginia loves her work with Tufts Admissions, particularly the people she works with. “I think that Tufts Admissions reflects the university as a whole: everyone in my office has a wide array of interests, hometowns, and personalities, but we work well together because of the thoughtful collaborative spirit within each of them,” Virginia says. She appreciates that even in the depth of application reading season, there are moments of discussing television shows or cringing at terrible puns. Virginia, like other admissions counselors, takes her work and passions seriously, but she does not take herself seriously and enjoys a good laugh, especially with students. Virginia is constantly awed by the students she meets and works with, especially by their humble attitudes and academic passions. “Every week, I listen to students tell me about their strenuous course loads, extracurricular activities, and fascinating research. I quickly discovered the kindheartedness of Tufts students and their desire to learn from others and themselves,” Virginia says. She sees this especially in the tour guide program, where new guides often find themselves making extremely thoughtful connections with both older guides and Virginia herself.

One of Virginia’s favorite things about her job is the application reading process and the honor that comes with reading interesting stories from high school students across the country. She loves that each day is completely new and different as she learns something new from different applications. “Some teach me the resilience of the human spirit while others might teach me a new Physics theory,” Virginia explains. As a 2016 University of Virginia graduate, she remembers the application process and her undergraduate education very well. She was a history and anthropology double major and a tour guide and distinctly recalls being asked the terrifying question of “what will you do with those two majors after you graduate?” Virginia had a memorized response to this question, explaining that both her majors focused on people and therefore her future work would involve other humans. Her majors gave her immense empathy and understanding, something she brings to Tufts Admissions with her every day.

Upon graduating from college, Virginia craved the “passionate energy” of a college campus, especially the community of being a tour guide for admissions. She feels like her work within the student-led tour guide program particularly inspired her work at Tufts, not only in rethinking Tufts’ tour guide program but also in creating leadership positions for students and presenting opportunities for student engagement on campus.

Virginia brings immense excitement and friendliness to the Tufts community. She enjoys meeting eccentric Jumbos and making new connections. There are countless things to enjoy on Tufts’ campus, but Virginia loves getting to explore the world from her admissions office. “I adore working in a space that can take me from Western Massachusetts to Australia to Georgia to California all while sitting in Bendetson Hall,” she says. Most of all, she loves to see the future in applicants and prospective students. “I adore working in a space that expands my awareness of the world and allows me to appreciate the potential of young people.”

Student Profile: Mia Marrazza

Mia Marrazza

After almost four years, it seems easy to assume that the special qualities of Tufts have become common to senior Mia Marrazza, but she still finds herself in awe of the Tufts community. “I know it sounds cheesy, but I chose Tufts because of the people,” she recalls. Mia’s past four years were shaped by not only her fellow Jumbos, but also her work with incredible organizations, classes preparing her for her future, and personal passions that continue beyond Tufts.

Mia came to Tufts knowing who she was and what she wanted out of her undergraduate career. “I’ve always known I wanted to be a businesswoman,” Mia says, “but I wanted to go into that field with a liberal arts education.” Tufts became her choice for its fantastic liberal arts education in a variety of fields, giving her the option to explore different skills and subjects. Mia studied quantitative economics, math, and entrepreneurial leadership studies. These are three popular areas of study for Jumbos and with students like Mia, it’s easy to see why. Within these studies, Mia describes learning various problem solving and critical thinking skills necessary for being a confident and successful businesswoman. Mia is grateful especially to her professors “for their support and positive spirit” throughout her four years. While taking rigorous classes, Mia found time for incredible extracurricular activities like 180 Degrees Consulting, a unique organization on campus. Mia is heavily involved in the organization. “It has given me unique experiences working with nonprofit clients in the Boston area, and I will use those teamwork and analytical skills as I enter my full-time job in life science consulting this summer,” Mia says.

When she is not excited for her future career, Mia is a tour guide with Tufts Admissions and has made many thoughtful connections with both prospective Jumbos and new tour guides. Mia seems to be exceptional at building relationships with people regardless of their backgrounds, which can especially be seen in her interest in consulting. “My professional passions right now are consulting due to its client-facing and team-oriented work,” Mia explains. This is synonymous with her personal passions of making an effort to surround herself with fellow dedicated and unique individuals, something she finds almost effortless at Tufts. Mia finds that Tufts has provided the perfect opportunities for her to thrive during her undergraduate education because of the institution’s resources and community. She feels motivated to “constantly learn more” and involve herself “in new and life-changing experiences.” While Mia has had many of those experiences the past four years, it is just the beginning.

After graduation, Mia plans on continuing her work at Simon-Kucher & Partners, which she says the Career Center helped her immensely with. While she is ready to work hard, she is also ready to “have a ton of fun post-grad.” Mia sees her future as being the perfect balance of professional work and discovering the Boston area as an adult. “I’m excited to see where my curiosity takes me as I move forward with my career. There are so many exciting things to look forward to, no matter how scary it may seem for me now as I enter the last chunk of my last semester,” Mia says. With graduation in just two months, Mia may be ending her undergraduate career at Tufts, but she will always be a Jumbo.