From seniors to citizens: 2 paths

Graphic by Aiden Menchaca / The Tufts Daily

Senior spring to social security. On the hill to over the hill. Graduation to … grandchildren? Here’s what seniors have to say before all is said and done. 

Come August, two scenarios might play out for João Basso: He will be forced to leave the country, or he will start a residency position as a quantum computing researcher at Google.

“Quantum computing doesn’t exist yet, but the idea is to leverage the laws of quantum mechanics to perform computation,” he said. 

Unfortunately, Basso’s Optional Practical Training (OPT) visa does not exist yet either.

“For a while, I was very, very worried,” Basso, who hails from Brazil, said. “As an international student, I need the document to work [in the United States for an additional year], and I don’t know how the current state of affairs will influence my OPT application.” 

Basso is no stranger to divergent possibilities. He chose between staying in Brazil and moving abroad. He chose between pursuing a conventional education and trying to become a professional violinist.

“If I had many lives, I would have different careers in all of them, but the reason why I chose what I chose is that I think that of all the lives, this is the one that I like the most,” he said. 

In this life, Basso chose Tufts. In this life, Basso chose three majors: math, physics and computer science. In this life, Basso said, “I’m pretty comfortable with where I stand with regards to my career, and of course, I was definitely not in this position when I entered Tufts, so … Tufts definitely helped me get where I am.” 

Basso will graduate with 252 SHUs to his name, and last summer, aided by his already eye-popping credentials that would swell to include publications in biophysics and quantum computing, he earned a research internship that sparked a revelation.

“For me, going to the Institute for Quantum Computing [at the University of Waterloo] changed everything,” he said. “People were doing physics research that was supposed to be theoretical, but it was [not theoretical enough] for me. While I was doing my research that was not 100% math, there was so much pure and advanced math that was necessary for anything to work.” 

Basso then faced the choice of whether to apply to Ph.D. programs in math or physics.

“I had spent 3/4 of my college time focusing on physics, so … I didn’t just want to waste everything I did,” he said. 

Ultimately, Basso applied to graduate programs in both disciplines, and he also slipped in an application to Google.

“I did get into graduate school, but right now I’m working on deferring those schools and making that decision in the future,” he said. “I really don’t want to miss out on this job opportunity.”

Basso will arrive at another fork in the road when he finally graduates from his doctoral program of choice.

“I guess the two paths are research in industry or research in academia,” he said. “If I were to choose, I would try and do both.” 

Lingering visa issues aside, Basso has more than prepared himself for the future. Eventually, he believes that his research will focus on either analysis or algebraic topology, but he recognizes that more uncertainty lies ahead.

“Bear in mind that I’m not in the field yet, so a lot of what I say is speculation,” Basso said.