Senior Prince Islam is the son of two Bangladeshi immigrants, neither of whom were able to pursue formal education. Therefore, getting a good education was a priority in Islam’s house growing up.
“I went through [New York City’s] public school system, and my parents have always been very education-oriented, because of their backgrounds, because they saw education as a pathway,” Islam said.
That pathway led Islam to Tufts, where he majored in computer science and minored in math. He took a number of classes in the education department, including his favorite class out of all four years — Steve Cohen’s “School and Society,” a course many Tufts students have considered to be a formative experience throughout the years.
“It was a lot of eye-opening stuff about the state of education in the United States today,” Islam said.
Islam came into Tufts knowing he wanted to pursue education. Cohen, he said, helped him think about exactly what he wanted to do and who he wanted to impact.
“I was always interested in education but I think he really just brought out that passion to the fullest,” Islam said.
Outside of the classroom, Islam was involved with multiple educational programs. Through Tufts Literacy Corps, Islam helped middle school students with literacy skills. He also worked to build literacy skills and bridge the literacy gap with preschoolers in the area through Jumpstart.
“There are a lot of preschoolers from lower-income backgrounds who go to kindergartens knowing thousands of fewer words than their more affluent peers. So I had the opportunity to go into those classrooms and see that gap, and hopefully do a little something to help amend that gap,” Islam said.
After graduation, Islam will be able to put some of that experience to use in his own classroom, working as a high school math teacher in the Bronx come September, a post he got through Teach For America.
Islam is looking forward to devoting himself to benefitting the communities he has been part of, including low-income immigrant families.
“I chose Teach For America particularly because of the people that I would be around,” Islam said.
While at Tufts, he devoted himself to the first-generation student community in particular. When he arrived at Tufts in 2016, he said there wasn’t much of a community for individuals from low-income, first-generation families like himself.
Islam attended a meeting by the First-Generation College Student Council, now the First-Generation Collective, which was just a few students at the time.
“It was just a couple kids, in a room, talking about their first-gen identity, and I realized, hey, this is exactly what I want to expand on,” Islam said.
When Islam became president of the First-Generation Student Collective at the beginning of his sophomore year, his goal was to get first-generation students together to talk about their identity and provide a space for students to meet and get to know each other as first-generation students.
Islam also said that in his four years, he has seen Tufts, as an administration, take steps toward supporting first-generation students, with the establishment of resources like the FIRST Resource Center and the Building Engagement and Access for Students at Tufts pre-orientation program.
“When I look at the first-generation community today versus what it was when I first stepped onto campus, it’s like night and day. It’s incredible. And I’m really excited for the first-generation students that are coming in,” Islam said.
For Islam, the best parts of his Tufts experience have centered around connecting with individuals from all over. While New York City is a very diverse place, before coming to Tufts, Islam found himself surrounded by friends who were also Bengali, Muslim and working class.
“I finally had a chance to forge really close friendships with people who are a lot more affluent than I was,” Islam said. “White, Asian, Latino, from all across the spectrum, from all around the United States … and from around the world.”
To the incoming first-years, Islam said that it is fine to not truly know who you are or what you want yet — that’s what college is for.
“Don’t feel pressured to do everything, just focus more so on who you are and learning who you are,” Islam said.