Every year, members of the alumni community vote for who will represent the alumni on the Board of Trustees, the highest body of governance for the university. One of the two candidates running for that position this year is Dr. Tejas Mehta (M’92).
Mehta comes from a family steeped in the Tufts experience: her son recently graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences and she met her husband while studying at Tufts medical school.
Reflecting on why she accepted her nomination for this position, Mehta cites the opportunity to give back to her alma mater.
“I’m at the stage in my life where I’m able to give back to the place that was so influential to me and really made me not only the physician … but also the person that I am today,” she said.
Since 1993, Mehta has worked at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (known as Beth Israel Hospital when she began) where she now serves as the Chief of Breast Imaging.
Through projects she has taken on her professional life, Mehta has learned lessons that she hopes to bring to the board if elected.
“I’ve been involved in building and creating two breast imaging centers of excellence and basically transforming how that imaging care is delivered,” Mehta said. “What I learned from that experience is that, although I may have been one of the leaders of that initiative, really it was my entire team of champions that made it possible, and every member of that team … contributed to making it such a great place.”
This experience has shown her the importance of engaging as many people as possible with diverse talents.
“The Tufts community has a huge amount of talent, and how can we capitalize that and make sure that everyone has the opportunity to capitalize on those talents, to give themselves purpose and also provide an opportunity to succeed?” Mehta said.
Mehta has many answers to this question, chief among them being achieving greater financial accessibility for Tufts students.
“Tufts is a research university committed to its students, faculty and alumni, to innovation, to the creation and application of knowledge, to inclusion and collaboration, to environmental sustainability and to making an impact on the world,” Mehta wrote in her candidate statement. “It would behoove me to mention the financial challenges that come with achieving these goals. These are difficult times for all educational institutions, and Tufts is not exempt.”
Mehta says she is thinking about the changes Tufts could make, but also how to make these possible, building off of her own knowledge and expertise.
“I think we need to be thoughtful, so we can talk about making all these changes, but we also need to be thoughtful of the cost and the environment” Mehta said. “All of the schools already are involved in the largest capital campaign in the history of Tufts, and I’ve already played a part at the medical school level, and I’d like to continue to play a part in that at the larger level, in terms of strengthening our endowment and expanding our philanthropic efforts.”
Mehta’s continued involvement with the medical school goes far beyond just being involved with the current capital campaign. She has been a member of the Tufts Medical Alumni Association Executive Council since 2007, currently serving as its president. In this role, she oversees engaging the medical school alumni and allocating donations to programs for current medical school students. This includes sponsoring scholarships as well as many of the major milestones in students’ medical school careers, including giving each student their first stethoscope and a personal note from an alumnus during their white coat ceremony and supporting them during their induction night, when they celebrate their next steps after medical school. In addition, Mehta works with the alumni council to offer mentorship and teaching to current medical students, such as giving students the chance to shadow Tufts medical school alumni at their places of work.
Another major initiative Mehta hopes to take on if elected to the board is to strengthen the connections between Tufts’ various schools.
“It’s our vision to be an innovative university, and I think that the strength in our school is really the strength of the combination of all of our schools, and so one of the initiatives that I’d like to be involved with is strengthening the bridges between the various schools because I think that the collaborative multidisciplinary nature [of stronger connections] will help us find synergy, and together with all of the schools, we’ll be able to make the greatest impact … on the world,” Mehta said.
Mehta wants to maximize the opportunities for each student to engage with the Tufts community.
“I think that the younger generation has a lot to offer … something about the diversity of age actually brings more power or whatever mission or project you’re involved with, so I really would like to make sure that all of the students feel like regardless of whether they’re a first-year at Tufts undergrad or part of the grad school or a Ph.D. student that’s been there a long time, how can we … set up a way that they can contribute?” Mehta said.
For Mehta, this connects to recognizing and utilizing the unique value that each person brings to the table, as she has done in her professional life.
When Mehta considered why she thinks she would be a strong member of the Board of Trustees, she looked at shared values on the most basic level. The two phrases that she said most represent Tufts in her mind were “making a difference and embracing change,” skills that she sees in her own life as well.
“Tufts University really embodies what I believe. What it stands for parallels my beliefs and how I envision the future world we’ll have,” Mehta said. “We need to be noble and change with the world, and I think that is my strength … I believe myself to be a nimble person, a very forward thinker, someone that really embraces and welcomes change rather than shy away from change … and I think that Tufts is very much like that, and that’s why I think my candidacy and nomination are strong.”