Graduating fifth-year student Max Farber has technically attended three different institutions. He’s come a long way since his first year at Skidmore College, where he studied fine arts and social work on a premedical track.
“I was at Skidmore for a year, but at its core, it just wasn’t for me. I actually went through the transfer process with a bunch of different schools and didn’t get in any place I wanted to go. So that summer, I took a look again at my options for applying and found the SMFA [School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts] and a few other art schools,” Farber said.
Farber transferred to SMFA in fall 2014, then transferred again into the BFA+BA/BS Combined Degree Program at Tufts in fall 2016. Today, Farber is graduating with degrees in sociology and performance art.
“The majority of my stuff at the SMFA is performance, sculpture and installation with a focus on craft and traditional styles in making. I weave, metalsmith, basket-weave and I work with ideas of domesticity in the home — motherhood and care,” Farber said.
However, the atypically long transfer process that Farber underwent meant that the transition to each school he moved to was not easy.
“When I first came to Tufts, I was living at the SMFA in Brookline,” Farber said. “It was a difficult transition because the SMFA had been a commuter school for a very long time, since my dorm was 20 minutes away from the school … At the SMFA, there was a community of people that I loved, but there was a sense of commuting.”
As both a transfer student and an SMFA combined degree student, Farber found that it was difficult to join extracurricular activities in the same way that his peers were able to.
“When I was living at the SMFA, it was really hard to be a part of clubs because they’d meet at 6 or 8 p.m., when I was in the studio or in my dorm at Brookline. By the time I … moved onto the Tufts campus, everybody was already sort of in those groups, and it felt weird to go back to being a freshman,” Farber said.
Once Farber officially transferred to Tufts, he decided to go on the pre-health track with the ultimate goal of being a midwife. After graduation, he plans to begin the process of applying to nursing schools.
“I wanted to be a coroner when I first started school, but when I was going through the transfer process, I realized that the transfer would make it difficult to do a premedical track. When I transferred to Tufts, I sort of had this realization that I missed the sciences. I knew that I wanted to go back to it because I missed that idea of caring for people in a clinical manner,” Farber said. “I was really passionate about reproductive health, and I was crying at every single episode of ‘Call the Midwife,’ so I started doing research on what midwifery was. I found out that it was much more than birth and pregnancy. It was also gynecological care, queer healthcare, trans healthcare, and that started to feel like home.”
Despite the many changes that Farber underwent, one thing that remained constant throughout his five years was his passion for sex education programs on campus, which he became heavily involved with at Tufts through the Center for Awareness, Resources and Education (CARE).
“I’ve been a sex educator all my years of college. I originally joined because I made a friend at Skidmore who said it was a great community — and in my perspective, they were the cool kids on campus — so I applied and became very passionate about it. When I came to the SMFA, they didn’t have any area of sex education, so I started trying to work with the mental health counselor at the SMFA and some of the student affairs people there to build up some sexual education support,” Farber said.
Farber is ultimately happy with his extraordinary path to a college degree.
“I am coming out of Tufts with a broader view of the world. Having lived as a commuter in Boston … meant that my concept of Boston and the world and academia had to be broader,” Farber said. “I think that the dual degree gives you this opportunity to have your education not just be focused on your areas of interest but broader than the experience that you’re getting.”