On behalf of the entire Tufts community, I would like to officially welcome the class of 2018 to campus. My name is Robert Joseph, and this year I will be serving as your student body president. I’m sure today is a wild emotional roller coaster for many of you — moving into your new homes, meeting more classmates than whose names you can remember and learning the small things about what living at Tufts will be like. My roommate freshman year locked himself out of our room more times than I’d like to share, so hold onto those room keys!
I know at first it may seem hard adjusting to life here. If your family has brought you to campus, they’ll probably be leaving within a few hours. You’re all baby birds leaving your parents’ nests for the first time. And whether you’re from 8,000 miles away or you can see your high school in Medford from certain buildings on campus, there’s still uncharted territory for you out there. In fact, I wholeheartedly believe that each and every one of you will learn a lot about the world and yourselves during your time here, even if some of you have a lot more maturing to do than others.
For me and for nearly all my friends, college has been an incredibly positive experience and very different from what we faced in high school. While high schools have a tendency to homogenize groups of people, Tufts will allow you to break free from old molds and define yourself the way you want to. Just because you can reinvent yourself at college if you want to doesn’t mean that you only get one chance to do so. You can continually shape who you are and how you see yourself.
In fact, one of the most critical areas in which you will all grow is in the exploration of your own and other people’s identities. What are the identities that make you who you are? How does your class affect your outlook on national politics? How do your gender and your sexual orientation influence your attitudes toward relationships? Do your race and religion impact how friendly you perceive Boston to be? And you will learn what it means to be friends with people who have different identities and privileges (or lack thereof).
The opportunities for you here at Tufts and around the Boston area are nearly limitless. During my time here at Tufts, I can easily say that I’ve learned at least as much outside my classes as I have within them. And I credit that to the students with whom I’ve shared the campus and the activities in which I’ve participated. This learning will take place in ways you’d never expect. Maybe you’ll eat lunch with computer science majors twice a week, start a club with students who have similar interests to you or volunteer in Somerville as a mentor to students in grade school. No matter where your journey at Tufts takes you, it is sure to be exciting.
Starting here at Tufts may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately there are older students to guide you. From your orientation leaders, to the people at the club fair begging you to join their group, to classmates in some of your courses, upperclassmen are here as friends, mentors and role models. In a matter of weeks, you’ll learn the social mores built on mutual respect and shared values that make Tufts wonderful. And for those of you who don’t see someone who can help you do what you want to do or achieve what you’d like to achieve during your time here, forge your own path.
Regardless of what you do here at Tufts, two things are certain: You will learn a lot, and you will make memories that will stick with you for the rest of your life. Some memories will be positive: that time you get a burger with friends at two in the morning, or that feeling when you fall in love for the first time. Some will assuredly be negative: getting rejected by the a cappella groups you auditioned for (I got rejected by three) or failing a test after studying far into the night.
Every bad experience or missed opportunity opens another door. If you decide not to study biology, maybe you’ll realize your passion for Japanese literature. Asking a professor a few questions after class could lead to a research opportunity. Don’t take it personally when things don’t go your way; keep an open mind instead. Curiosity and passion are what got you all here, and they’re going to help you succeed here too.
So to the class of 2018, congrats on beginning your adventure here at Tufts. Let’s go Jumbos!