Preparation for Jumbo Days

Next Friday is the first of some of the greatest days of the school year: Jumbo Days. On April 17th, 23rd, and 24th, Tufts University welcomes prospective students for the purpose of showing all of the wonderful things this campus has to offer.

I, the great over-committer of Tufts University, have signed up to help organize these glorious celebrations. I am on the Registration subcommittee of the Jumbo Days Advisory Committee. I will be there to welcome the adorable prospies super early in the morning, armed with my free T-shirt and overcaffeinated smile. But other than my position on JDAC, I’m going to be involved in the Jumbo Days activities fair with the Entertainment Board table, and, of course, the ExCollege open house. (Sometimes I just look at my Google calendar and cry at the amount of perfectly color-coded obligations on each day.)

But despite the amount of work that Jumbo Days will bring for me, I’m still very excited. There’s a reason I signed up to help so many  times, and that’s because I believe Tufts is a truly special place. I have had so much fun during my two years here, and I really want prospective students to see all of the amazing things Tufts has to offer and decide to come here as well.

My Jumbo Days visit was the reason I decided to go to Tufts. I remember visiting the Activities Fair, looking at possible classes, registering early in the morning and getting free breakfast. I remember sitting in Dowling Hall and telling my mom that I thought this was where I wanted to be. I remember feeling so oddly mature making that choice, knowing that my life was officially about to change. I’ve never regretted that decision, even when I’ve been at my most busy and stressed out. Jumbo Days was so special for me, and I want to make sure that it’s just as amazing for the next generation of Tufts students.

There will be an ExCollege open house from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on the 17th, 23rd, and 24th. If you’re interested, you can come visit and talk to me there. I’d love to talk to you about the ExCollege, about my experiences with it, and why every single student should take ExCollege courses during their time at Tufts. I am so excited for Jumbo Days, and I really hope that everyone who comes will love it as much as I do!

Happy Holidays!

The phrase “Happy Holidays” brings to mind good December cheer, the celebration of the myriad holy days which occur at the end of the year. People don’t often think to say those commemorative words in spring, however, which I believe is a great mistake. If you’re a believer in the Judeo-Christian traditions, right now is one of the biggest times of year.

My super awesome mom is a Presbyterian minister. I’m just going to answer any questions you may have upon learning this information right now: Presbyterianism is a sect of Protestantism. No, I’m not a super right-wing Evangelical. No, I’m not long skirt-wearing, socially conservative, and soft-spoken a la the girl in “A Walk to Remember.” No, I’m not a red cowboy boots-wearing rebellious teen a la the protagonist in “Footloose.” I’m a relatively average girl who was raised by her mother to think critically about religious structures and the Bible, and while I often question my faith, being Christian has always been a big part of my life.  (For better or worse, I feel like I have to issue these disclaimers for my Tufts friends who may make assumptions when I say that I’m Christian.)

Anyway, because of my upbringing, I’m extra aware of what a big deal this time of year is for both adherents of the Christian and Jewish faiths. My mom was a big part of the interfaith scene on Long Island, where we lived for much of my life, and so we always went to a Passover Seder every year. I always really enjoyed attending Seders, and therefore am so excited that I get to continue this tradition tonight when I attend my friend Aviva’s Seder. I know that she has been cooking since 8:30 this morning, and I’m really honored to be invited.

Today is a pretty big day for Christians too, because it’s Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion. But two days from now is the real biggie: Easter. People often forget what a huge deal Easter is, but because of my mom’s job, I’ve always been aware. I never had a visit from the Easter Bunny when I was little because my mom was always too busy to make me a basket. After the multiple services, she was always really tired so we would usually go out for Chinese for Easter lunch. It was an unconventional way to celebrate the resurrection, but always a kind of nice one. I think I understand now that I was getting to see the man behind the curtain, of sorts: worship is over, and the minister becomes my mom.

So I’ve always had fond memories of both Passover and Easter, the holy times for these two religious traditions. I like these holidays because they come without the capitalism, for the most part, and you can really enjoy the religious significance without being inundated with carols and candies and frenzied shopping. I have some fun plans for Easter: I’m going to a Presbyterian church in the morning with a friend, and then the Protestant Student Association and the Catholic Community at Tufts are co-hosting an Easter lunch with Greek food. Afterwards, my friend and I are going to Sephora, because there’s no better way to celebrate Christ’s resurrection than by buying new lipsticks.

This weekend will be a bit stressful because I don’t have enough time to do homework, but it doesn’t matter. This is an important time of year. And so, whether or not you celebrate Passover or Easter, I’ll say it again: Happy Holidays!

The Best and Busiest Time of Year

Hello readers, and welcome back to campus! Spring Break was fabulous, but now we must all return to real life and responsibilities. Somehow, it is almost April, which is frankly crazy to believe. Between insane piles of work and even more insane piles of snow, this semester has absolutely flown by. (Apparently not having a full week of school for five weeks straight really messes with your perception of time.) We have essentially one month left of actual classes, and then what I like to call the Two Weeks of Torment and Despair, also known as finals. Basically, we’re in the home stretch, and there’s a ton of stuff that’s going to happen between now and the finish line.

First of all, there’s classwork. I have so many projects due within the next two weeks, and then so many papers due the two weeks after that. My weekends are going to lose all of their fun, and just become an interminable series of meetings with my group partners and endless stretches of homework. As we get closer to finals, the work really accumulates. Protip for freshmen: get stuff done as early as possible. Trust me, you’ll hate your life while you’re doing work, but afterwards you’ll feel pretty good.

Then there are the numerous events which occur during the month of April. I’m co-chair of Entertainment Board, which is under the umbrella of Programming Board. For those not in the know, Programming Board encompasses Entertainment Board, Film Series, Concert Board, Senior Class Council, Junior Class Council, Sophomore Class Council, and Freshman Class Council. So while my particular group within PBoard has finished all of its events for the most part, we still have a lot to do. PBoard has to prepare for Spring Fling (OMG Kesha), Tuftonia’s Day, all the big end of the year events. I certainly hope to see you at some of these events!

April is when all of the dance teams, orchestras, bands, troupes, and other performance groups have their events. It’s when the prospective students come check Tufts out for Jumbo Days, which is one of my favorite times because I get to sell Tufts. Everything happens in April, including hopefully warm weather. It’s a very stressful time, but also a kind of lovely time because students have the opportunity to see all of the fantastic events that their peers have organized. I know that as much as I approach April with trepidation, I’m also full of excitement to see what happens next at Tufts.

Also, April is one month closer to summer, which is unequivocally the best time of year. I live in New Jersey now, so that means I’m going to be going to Six Flags more than once, which is definitely some summer fun to look forward to.

I hope that everyone enjoys their end of March days, and I wish to all a very happy April and spring!

Crazy Times at Tufts

I feel like the title of this blog post is slightly misleading; you may believe I’m going to talk about partying or other such wild and actually fun activities. (If you were thinking that, you should know that writing this blog is part of my literal job and I definitely would not write about my party habits in such a forum.)

No, I’m not thinking about parties, or anything that would be considered exciting by the normal standards. But these are certainly crazy times at Tufts, as faculty members and extracurriculars have apparently jointly decided that the two weeks before Spring Break is the perfect time to drown students with work.

I had two midterms last week, and three midterms and a project this upcoming week. But I can’t even find anyone to complain to about this, because everyone is ridiculously overwhelmed, and therefore no one on campus is sympathetic to other people’s plights. Then there are the extracurricular commitments. I’m co-chair of Entertainment Board, and we had our big spring comedian show on Thursday. I’m also an Arts and Multimedia Editor for the Daily, which is a big commitment on the lightest of weeks.

And, of course, the Experimental College. I have waxed rhapsodic on how much I love the ExCollege, but being a board member is definitely a pretty big commitment. This past Wednesday, student Board members conducted a series of interviews from around 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm, with the purpose of finding the five student Board members for next year. We’re interviewing the second half of applicants next Wednesday.

It’s actually very sad to interview my future replacements. I’ve really enjoyed being a member of the Board, and making such strong connections with my fellow students there. Even though it was exhausting to do nine interviews in four hours, I still had fun hanging out with Lilly, Mark, Becca, and Marcy, the other student members. It’s a very specific little community we have, and it will be sad to lose that group next year.

Basically, life is hectic and school is hard, friendships fade and everyone dies. (I’m all about the optimism.) But, there is joy on the horizon: Spring Break! Whether you’re going to Miami or just going home, it’ll be fun to relax away from campus and obligations. I’m planning on spending the entire week in pajamas and watching movies. (My planned Lord of the Rings marathon is occurring in 11 days, and I am SO EXCITED. Extended editions only, obviously.)

Although life is kind of wild right now, we’ll make it through this rough patch! Even in the tough times, there’s fun to be had, such as me getting to hang out with my friends from the ExCollege Board during interviews. I’m looking forward to Spring Break, like really looking forward to Spring Break, but life wouldn’t be as interesting without the crazy times.

The ExCollege courses I’ve taken at Tufts

I have been at Tufts for four semesters, and I’ve taken three ExCollege classes during that time. The first was my Perspectives class, Superheroes in the Media, which introduced me to the wonderful world of the ExCollege and Tufts as a whole. I adored this class because I got to watch and talk about superhero movies with a bunch of cool people and two rad leaders, and then get a credit for the experience. (The only movie we watched that I didn’t like was “Daredevil,” which is generally considered to be one of the worst movies of all time anyway.)

Then, second semester freshman year I took a class entitled On the Record: Communicating for the Government. This course was taught by a woman who had worked for the Clinton administration, consulted for the television show “The West Wing,” and had been a spokesperson for the Department of Justice in the Obama administration. Her experiences and stories made lectures fascinating and fun, and it was wonderful to learn the behind-the-scenes workings of the White House. Occasionally I’ve considered entering politics after graduation, probably in a communications capacity (think Sam Seaborn on “The West Wing”), and this course made me aware of the difficulties and excitement that is entailed in such a job. We wrote mock communications memos for a hypothetical president. We had Skype interviews with the NBC News Washington Bureau Chief and writers for Politico and AP. It was an overall fascinating, fabulous experience that gave me insight into a possible future career path.

Unfortunately last semester I was too busy to take an ExCollege course, but was still able to be involved due to my position as a Board member. However, this semester I had the time to take the class Gender, Sexuality, and Comics. (It’s especially great because this course counts for my CMS minor as well as being generally fun.) I’m a feminist nerd, so GS&C was the perfect course for me to take. So far I’ve had the opportunity to read a variety of graphic novels, and even create my own DIY-comic. It’s a very different course from anything else I’m taking this semester    mainly Political Science requirement classes, alas    and so every Monday night I’m able to kind of let go and just talk about comics.

Experimental College courses give students the opportunity to learn more on a topic they’re passionate about, or branch out and try something new. They connect people with different majors and extracurriculars. Visiting lecturers are generally experts in their field, so courses allow students to really see first-hand what a person in a certain career path really looks like. All in all, I have loved the ExCollege courses I’ve taken, and I hope that I will take many more in my final two years at Tufts!

Don’t forget: applications to be a Perspectives of Explorations leader are due March 11.


Upcoming Opportunities for All Students

I often hear stories from underclassmen who are interested in the Experimental College, but aren’t aware of what opportunities there are beyond taking classes. Then I hear from junior and seniors who would have liked to be more involved with the ExCollege earlier, but just didn’t know everything that was available. In an attempt to rectify this trend, I’m going to let you know about the upcoming super cool opportunities the ExCollege is offering for the next year.

(I know it’s a bit early to be thinking about next semester, but to be honest I’d rather think about that than my numerous upcoming midterms, and I suspect I’m not alone in this productive form of procrastination.)

If you’re a rising junior or senior and you want the opportunity to create your own course to co-teach with a friend, you should apply to teach a first year seminar next fall. The ExCollege sponsors the Perspectives and Explorations programs, which allow upperclassmen to mentor first-semester freshmen while lecturing on a subject they’re passionate about. When I was a freshman, I took the Perspectives course “Superheroes in the Media,” and it was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve had at Tufts. My co-leaders, Becca and Jehan, acted not only as teachers, but as mentors for me and my peers. They helped me to pick out classes and figure out which activities I wanted to do. I still get dinner with Becca around once a week, and meet Jehan at least once a month. My Perspectives leaders made Tufts seem inviting and fun on that scary first day, and I’ll always be grateful for their warmth and intelligence. The Perspectives program influenced me so heavily that I already am planning to apply in my senior year, with a partner and course subject in mind. (“Feminist Narratives in Science Fiction Television,” coming to you in Fall 2016.) If you want the opportunity to help freshmen while having a genuinely great teaching experience, you should apply for either of these programs. Also, you get 1.5 credits. The application for teaching an Explorations or Perspectives course is due March 11.

If you’re a freshman and want to be involved in the ExCollege next year, fear not: there’s opportunities for you as well! You can apply to be a member of the Board, which is an overall phenomenal experience that I would recommend to everyone. I’ve written extensively on why I love the Experimental College Board, but I’ll take the time to advertise it even more. On the Board, you have the opportunity to work alongside other students and faculty members to organize events and choose which courses will be taught in the next semester. The Board is great not only because you get to be on the ground floor of decision making, but also because of the relationships you forge with your peers and the professors. The application for becoming a member of the ExCollege Board is due February 27.

The ExCollege is such a fantastic place to learn, lead, and grow, and I really hope that students take advantage of the opportunities presented for next semester. For more information on becoming more involved with the ExCollege, visit

The ExCollege Board Is Never Boring

Being a member of the Experimental College Board over this past year has been an incredibly fun experience. “Fun” may seem like too casual a word for one of the most prestigious positions Tufts campus has to offer, but it’s genuinely the best descriptor. For me, being a member of the Board has been informative, challenging, inspirational, interesting, powerful. It has allowed me to meet new friends and colleagues, people with diverse skill sets whom I would not have come in contact with otherwise. It is a forum where I can speak passionately and be heard, where I can listen thoroughly to other opinions and reevaluate my own. Plus, there’s free food, which as we all know is the purest of motivators. So, in a word, fun.

The ExCollege Board meets on a monthly basis, in the conference room on the second floor. Over this past summer, the room was decorated with the timeline created for the 50th Anniversary Exhibit which was shown in Aidekman Gallery last year. When I sit in that conference room, I am surrounded by pictures of events in American and ExCollege history, a reminder of the importance of this institution and of the power that my position holds. At these meetings, we discuss and plan upcoming events, and prepare for course applications. At the end of each semester, we have our big “money meeting,” wherein we vote on which visiting lecturer courses will be accepted for the upcoming semester. These money meetings last for several hours, but fortunately everyone on the Board is great. Being around them and talking with them for such a long time is not a chore, but a treat.

I just can’t emphasize enough what a special experience being on the Board is for me. It’s a privilege to work alongside professors and fellow students, choosing courses and planning events that will benefit the overall Tufts community. I bet you’re thinking, “Grace really can’t be this insanely passionate about the ExCollege.” Well, you’re incorrect, because crazy enthusiasm for the things I love is my schtick.

I’m trying to think of my favorite part of being a part of the Board, and I’ve decided that its the relationships that I’ve made with my fellow members. I’ve known Robyn and Howard since I was but a tiny first semester freshman, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the ExCollege staff feels like my on-campus family. One of my fellow student Board members, Becca, taught me in a Perspectives course last year, and so I’ve thought of her as a friend and mentor for a while. But I didn’t really know any of the other Board members when I first started, and I’m pleased to say that has changed.

As a Political Science major, I probably would have never gotten to know at least half of the faculty members represented on the Board, who each come from several different departments. I definitely wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to speak with them informally about proposed courses, and have my opinion treated as equally important to theirs. The ExCollege conference room is a special place, because it puts students and professors on a level playing field. Our voices are listened to with equal regard in Board meetings, and I believe this creates a really interesting and special bond between students and professors.

Due to weekly meetings for student Board members, I’ve also had the privilege to become friends with some incredibly intelligent, focused, friendly undergrads. Each of these dedicated students has interests that encompass all different fields and activities. Being on the Board has allowed me to meet new people and actually form good, unique relationships with them.

There’s a chance that I may be studying abroad next year, and will have to relinquish my position as student Board member. But I still have the remainder of this semester to get some fine work done, and I’m comfortable in the knowledge that someone (almost) as good as me will take my place. Being a member of the Experimental College Board has been amazing, and it’s not over yet.

External Reviews and Student News

The Experimental College is currently undergoing an external review, which is an exciting opportunity to explore the department’s strengths and weaknesses. This also allows students and faculty to reminisce on the ways in which the ExCollege has enhanced their lives. As a student Board member and active participant in all things ExCollege, I was asked to participate in a lunch which took place earlier this afternoon with the reviewers and fellow student leaders of ExCollege programs. Not only did I get free food, I also got the chance to learn more about my peers.

At the lunch, I got to hear Board members, peer teachers, and Explorations and Perspectives leaders speak. As a sophomore, I was the youngest participant in the lunch, so it was really interesting to hear from older students about how they were so positively impacted by the ExCollege. I know that the ExCollege has made my collegiate life better and more interesting, so it was fun to hear from others who had similar experiences. I intend to teach a Perspectives class when I am a senior, and I got to hear former Perspectives leaders talk about what the application and teaching process entailed. To be honest, it made me even more excited for my future here at the ExCollege.

It was also interesting to hear the opinions of the external reviewers, who seemed to be truly interested and engaged with what each student had to say about the ExCollege. One of the things that I’ve always loved about the ExCollege is how much student input is valued, so it was nice to have that tradition continued in the external review. I liked hearing the accounts of other students, but I also really enjoyed talking about my own experiences with the ExCollege. I love to talk, and I love the ExCollege, and I love sandwiches, so this was basically the perfect lunch opportunity for me.

It’s easy for me to get wrapped up in my own little world, unaware of what’s happening beyond my own commitments and ambitions. This lunch was a nice reminder of the breadth of the ExCollege’s influence; it hasn’t just shaped my experiences, but the experiences of countless Tufts students before me and will continue to affect countless of students after I am gone. It was good to remember in a group what makes the ExCollege so great: its focus on students and student opinion. That aspect is what enticed me to take a Perspectives class my first semester freshman year, what drew me to apply to a position as an office assistant. I have been involved with the ExCollege in numerous capacities: as a student, as an employee, and as a Board member. In every position that I have held, my perspective has been appreciated and taken into account. It was nice to learn that the ExCollege has been such a positive influence on other students as well by hearing the accounts of my peers during this lunch.

I believe that the external review is crucial, not only because it gives the ExCollege the opportunity to reevaluate and revisit its purpose, but also because it is an opportunity to further inform outsiders of what the ExCollege is and the importance of its mission. The ExCollege is a large part of what makes Tufts unique, and I think that its strengths should be broadcast to the academic world. Hopefully what was said at this lunch, and during the external review in general, will be taken into account not only by those active within the ExCollege but also by those who may wish to emulate its tenets.

How the ExCollege Slowly Took Over My Life (In a Good Way)

Hi there blog-readers, my name is Grace and I’m the new student author of ExChange. I’m a sophomore majoring in Political Science and minoring in Mass Communications and Media Studies, with the vague goal of someday using these skills to become a writer. (Don’t ask me what kind of writer. I haven’t gotten that far yet.)

This is me. You can totally friend me on facebook or add me on twitter, @Grace_Segers, and I promise I won't think you're creepy.

This is me. You can totally friend me on Facebook or add me on Twitter, @Grace_Segers, and I promise I won’t think you’re creepy.

The ExCollege is probably my home away from home within the Tufts campus. I’ve been working here as an office assistant since I was but a wee first-semester freshman. When I first got to Tufts, I didn’t think I was going to get a good work study job on campus. But then I interviewed for a position at the ExCollege, and the rest is history. My little back office is a haven, and I have access to the Keurig Coffee Maker, which is nice.

I also took two ExCollege classes last year; a Perspectives course called “Superheroes in the Media” and a course taught by a visiting lecturer called “On the Record: Communicating for the Government.” I adored both of these classes, as I got to learn more about what I am passionate about (politics and fictional characters in spandex).

At the same time, the ExCollege was preparing for its 50th Anniversary Gala. I got to compile old documents, articles, and pictures regarding the ExCollege, send out invitations, speak with alumni about the event on the phone. When I attended the Gala in April 2014, I got to see how the ExCollege has helped and shaped the experiences of alumni across decades.

So I was working for the ExCollege, taking its courses, and attending its events. But that wasn’t enough for me! I decided to apply to become a member of the Experimental College Board, and was accepted. Now I get to plan the cool events and help pick out classes, a great power that comes with great responsibility and fills me with great glee.

I’m now taking another ExCollege course, “Gender, Sexuality, and Comics,” which is super fun and conveniently also counts for my minor. I spend half of my week working and attending meetings in the little brown house that the ExCollege calls home. I like to be here, and I like the people, and I want to be involved in any way that I can. If I could do more for the ExCollege, I would.

In addition to being a Board Member/office assistant/student at the ExCollege, I am also an Arts and Multimedia editor for the Tufts Daily and Co-Chair for the Entertainment Board. I’m also the secretary for the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society at Tufts, because if you hadn’t gathered this already, I’m a gigantic over-achieving nerd.

I firmly believe that college is what you make of it, and the experiences you have here can and will shape your life in the future. I know that deciding to apply for the office assistant position at the ExCollege was a wonderful idea with unforeseeably amazing consequences, and I know that my time here has and will continue to make my time at Tufts fantastic.

Power of e: spruce


Power of e, Logo by M. Regalado, 2014

“Power of e” is a series of my exploration of student innovative ventures and creations by Tufts students. Tufts students flex their passion through skills they’ve acquired in and out of the classroom and this is the stage to highlight these amazing students. “Power of e” will be featured on the blog at least once a month. Be sure to let me know your thoughts on these features and if there is anything you are working on, contact me :)

In my first feature, seniority takes hold. This week I’m featuring spruce created by current Tufts seniors Angus Schaefer, Bernita Ling, and Misako Ono. spruce heightens individuals visibility through  stylish resumés, elaborative logos, chic business cards, and eye-catching posters to gather a creative design edge against their competitors. But it doesn’t stop there! If you need a stylish design boost in any capacity you can run your idea by spruce.

All great ideas stem from a problem that an entrepreneur wants to solve with their product or service being a unique solution. I contacted Bernita Ling, a fellow Engineering Psychology major and design wiz who is one of the founders, to uncover spruce. Bernita explains: “Image matters. [The problem we] saw was many people here at Tufts who are incapable of generating the image they wanted for themselves, and we saw an opportunity for ourselves to help them.” 

spruce founders

Spruce founders from left: Angus, Bernita, and Misako

Once a great idea has been cultivated and formulated, an A-team is essential to generate this idea to life. This creative trio have been friends since freshmen year and approach their creative work together with immense passion, “which is one of the most important traits to have in a venture like this,” Bernita stresses. All of the founders had been doing creative work on their own before spruce: Angus – poster and logo design, Misako – photography and design, and Bernita – photography and design. Combining talent and centralizing skill set into one service, spruce was born. From the first glance at their website, the design layout is flat, straightforward, minimal, and clean. Bernita expresses the look and feel of the website maximizes the impact, while maintaining their own personal aesthetics without distracting from the content.

spruce has been showing great traction and the founders have been busy! Hopeful, the founders should see growth based on the positive reviews from their early clientele. “We aren’t positive what the future holds, which only makes it more exciting. Whatever happens, we are sure that spruce will remain as an essential starting point for all three of us in our future careers.” From one entrepreneur and designer to another, best of luck my friends! Excited to see what else is in store for you! If you would like to get in contact with spruce, you can use their contact form here on their website.

#PowerOfe #Entrepeurneurship #TuftsIdeas #Seniors