How Tufts Works: Lifelong Jumbo

Immediately after I entered Director of the European Center Gabriella Goldstein’s (LA ’84) office, she handed me a piece of chocolate. After gratefully accepting it, I steered the conversation toward her background, trying to get a sense of the important themes of her life.

It was not until I unwrapped the piece of chocolate later and saw the elephant design on it that I realized it could serve as the answer to many of my questions. The chocolate was fitting for Gabriella because she is a lifelong, fully fledged Jumbo.

Starting as an undergraduate student at Tufts, Gabriella was heavily involved on campus. In her time here, she worked in a variety of jobs including at the Academic Resource Center, Dining Services and the campus pub.

Upon graduation in 1984, Gabriella was hired by Tufts Conference and Event Services to run a summer program for young adults with disabilities. She described how rewarding it was to facilitate learning for people who were often neglected by traditional educational systems. Additionally, during the summers, Gabriella worked for the European Center in Talloires, France.

In the next phase of her career, Gabriella stayed connected to Tufts despite holding various jobs outside of the university. Notably, her experience as an administrative coordinator for the U.S. Olympic Committee at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France further developed her affinity for France. Despite her travels, she came back to Tufts most summers to organize programs, conferences and events.

It was not until Gabriella took the job as the director of the European Center in 2002, though, that she made the transition back to Tufts for good. Since then, she has thrived in a position that combines her skills and passions and allows her to work in two places that she knows best.

During her summers in Talloires, Gabriella helps students respond to the challenges of being outside their comfort zones, make interpersonal connections and learn about themselves in a small and intimate setting. She said she likes the personal aspect of her work in Talloires the most because it gives her the opportunity to facilitate the growth of young people. On top of that, Gabriella insisted that she learns just as much every summer as the students do.

“It’s a magical job in a magical place,” she said.

Upon returning from France every year, Gabriella is reminded of the reasons she was initially impressed by Tufts. As an undergraduate, she found that her peers respected each other for their different brands of intelligence, which extended beyond being book-smart. She says that this free-form smartness continues to be reflected in the “brace yourselves” quirkiness of the Tufts student body.

Mostly, though, Gabriella is deeply inspired by the passion of Tufts students and faculty. “That’s what I was exposed to here at Tufts and that’s why I’ve stayed,” she said. Tufts is clearly better off for her many years of service.