Tag Archives: Graduate Institute for Teaching

Why Tufts? Part 5

Written by Alexandra Carter, English Ph.D. Candidate

Because I am currently serving as the Outreach Coordinator for the Tufts English Graduate Organization (TEGO), I have been speaking to a lot of prospective students and answering a lot of questions about graduate student life at Tufts. Not surprisingly, many have asked me, “Why Tufts?” These conversations have, of course, prompted me to think back to that time when I too was a (very) nervous prospective student, and reflect on my own choice to make the move to Boston for graduate school.

Let me begin by saying that I am so glad I chose Tufts. As a graduate student, one meets a lot of other graduate students, and through these interactions I’ve come to realize what a generous intellectual environment the Tufts English Department fosters. Not only are graduate students generous with one another–with time, energy, brainpower, snacks—but our faculty are also clearly invested in our students. I always feel as if professors are interested in hearing from me, helping me, and maybe even learning from me. Doors are always open.

I went to NYU for undergrad, so I’m pretty comfortable being an academic lone ranger. I was in NYC and at a huge university, and that worked for me. Tufts, then, was an interesting transition. Our department is quite small, and when I walk around East Hall I feel like I know everyone—and they know me, too. While I loved NYU, and I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything, working in a small department has shown me how important community is for good scholarship. For example, I am an Early Modernist, and the members of Tufts Medieval and Early Modern working group (MediMod) have been instrumental in pushing my ideas farther than I could have taken them sitting by myself in the corner of a library.

Finally, I have had an excellent experience with the teaching expectations at Tufts. In the first year, PhD students are on fellowship and do not teach. This means that your first year is a time to get acclimated to the program and get used to graduate student life. In my second year I was a Teaching Assistant for the General View of English Literature survey course. This was a great introduction to teaching at Tufts and a nice window into what it would be like to have my own students the following year. PhD students in the English Department teach in the First Year Writing (FYW) program, which is great experience teaching students from across the university (as opposed to simply English majors). What I most appreciate, though, is that I felt like there was a lot of support built in to the program, especially as I began to plan and teach my own FYW class. My teaching obligations are also not so burdensome that I am unable to accomplish my own research and work. There are also other opportunities for teaching at Tufts, such as the GIFT program, that students can take advantage of toward the end of their degree.


Why Tufts? Part 3

   Written by Rachael Bonoan, Biology Ph.D. Candidate

Collaboration, community, and teaching at Tufts

There are two main reasons why I chose Tufts: collaboration and community. When picking my graduate school, I chose based on the Biology Department specifically. Now, after having been at Tufts for four years, I can say that these two reasons also apply to Tufts in general.

Collaboration: I loved that the Biology Department was collaborative, not competitive. Since we are one Biology Department, there is a range of expertise: from DNA repair to animal behavior, there is likely someone that can help with any project you propose. There are grad students that are co-advised and many labs collaborate. I am currently working on a project with the Wolfe Lab, a lab that studies microbial communities in fermented foods! I am working with the Wolfe Lab to determine if honey bee diet affects the community of microbes that live in the honey bee gut.

In general, I find the atmosphere on the Tufts campus to be a collaborative one rather than a competitive one. There are opportunities for grad students to collaborate with labs outside of their own department. Tufts even has an internal grant, Tufts Collaborates, which is specifically for this purpose! In my department, I know of biologists who work with chemists, engineers, and computer scientists.

Community: Even though we are divided into two buildings, the Biology Department strives to stay united. Every Friday, we have a seminar with cookies and tea before, and chips and salsa after. After seminar, I have the chance to catch up with faculty, staff, and students that work in the other building.

Outside of my department, the Tufts Graduate Student Council (GSC) strives to create a sense of community within the grad students. There are monthly GSC meetings where you can meet other grad students, hear about things going on, and voice your own opinions. The GSC also hosts academic, social, and community outreach events. Just last month, the GSC held their annual Graduate Student Research Symposium (GSRS). This symposium is for all grad students on the Tufts University Medford/Somerville campus and School of the Museum of Fine Arts. The GSRS is not only a place to meet other grad students, but it’s a place where you can learn about all the cool research happening at Tufts, and maybe find a collaborator!

A couple other reasons specific to me: I grew up in a small town and while I enjoy visiting the city, I am not much of a “city girl.” The location of Tufts is great for the small-town girl in me: it’s easy to visit the city but it’s also easy to find beautiful places to hike and enjoy nature. Just about an hour south of New Hampshire and an hour east of Central Mass, there are plenty of gorgeous hiking trails and mountains within a manageable driving distance.

Since I would one day like to teach at a primarily undergraduate institution, I also like that Tufts has unique teaching opportunities for grad students. There is the Graduate Institute for Teaching where grad students attend workshops on teaching during the summer, and then co-teach a class with a faculty member during the fall. There is also the ExCollege which awards Graduate Teaching Fellowships for students who want to create and teach a class on their own. This coming Fall, I will be teaching my own class on insect pollinators and applying basic science to conservation practices!

Enjoying the talks at the 2017 GSRS.

Enjoying the poster session and reception after the 2017 GSRS.

Hiking Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire, equipped with my Tufts Jumbos winter hat!

Enjoying Boston Winter in Downtown Boston! (I also have my Tufts Jumbos hat on here but it’s covered by my hood.)