The Astronaut Has Landed!

Last evening I had the pleasure of joining alum Captain Rick Hauk, A’62. Now I personally always get so gitty when meeting an alum as it’s the chance to speak with someone who has gone through a different Tufts, but you both share the same love and fond memories of was it was like being in college. But the most important thing I learn from alums is what they learned here at Tufts in and outside of the classroom prepared them for their next adventure.

For Rick, his next adventure was space. While at Tufts, Rick majored in Physics while also being a part of the Navy ROTC program here.  Soon after graduation, Rick was commissioned for 20 months in the Navy. After his service, he  was selected for the Navy’s Advanced Science Program receiving his Master’s in Nuclear Science from MIT. He piloted his first shuttle in 1983 and also commanded the first salvage mission in history in 1984, as well as the first shuttle launched after the Challenger tragedy in 1986. 

It’s evident that Rick utilized both what he learned in the classroom and out in the world to assist him in being such an renowned individual. So what have you done at Tufts to help guide you to your next adventure? No matter the experience, every moment you spend in the classroom, in your student groups, internships, and beyond, they all will add a perspective to what you will do next–even if the next experience has nothing to do with it. Again I ask you, what courses, social issues, work opportunities and more will you take to better yourself for a great future after Tufts?

#Astronaut #Alums #JumboPride

Young Alumni: Where are they now?

Over the years, our undergraduates have blown us away with their amazing ideas, unique perspectives, and ability to catalyze change. Even after graduation, ExCollege alums seek out challenges in order to positively impact their community. I reached out to recent graduates to see where they landed after leaving the Hill, and it’s no surprise that our young alumni are now located around the world pursuing their goals in a variety of fields!

“During my time at Tufts I was a Perspectives Peer Leader, Station Manager, and Producer of the TUTV YouTube show “My Gay Roommate,” and an Interdisciplinary Studies Major with a strong focus in the Communications and Mass Media Program.  Post-graduation, I booked a one-way ticket to Los Angeles where I now attend UCLA School of Law.  I am hoping to concentrate in Entertainment Law after I survive 1L year.  In my free time, I’ve been conducting Tufts interviews and dreaming of Dave’s Fresh Pasta.” -Demi Marks, A13

“My year on the ExCollege Board undoubtedly helped define my Tufts experience. It’s very rare for an undergraduate to have a seat at the table (literally!), informing ExCollege policy and shaping the future of ExCollege courses and its role for years to come. From my first ExCollege class as a freshman (Reality TV in American Society) to my last seminar as a senior (Multiplatform Journalism), the application-based approach of the College and its instructors gave me a tangible, real-world edge and insight when planning my next steps and igniting my interests in research, media, social analysis, journalism, and beyond. I now work at Dateline NBC in New York.” -Brionna Jimerson, A13

Brionna at her senior CMS internship.

“My senior year was, in a word, busy, and so I never expected to be able to spin one more plate: teaching an Explorations seminar to incoming freshmen. My seminar, World War II in International Film, was however arguably the very best thing I did while on the Hill. Getting to design and teach this course was not only the perfect capstone to my undergraduate career, but it also made me realize that though I’ve been all over the world, the classroom will forever be my home—as I now wait for news from various PhD programs for Italian Studies.” –Niki Krieg, A12

“In Fall 2011, I co-taught an Explorations course entitled Food of France with my friend Lindsay Eckhaus. When we pitched the idea to Robyn Gittleman, she said, “Let me get this straight: You want to have freshmen cook you dinner?” We did incorporate sampling into each class, but we used cuisine as a prism through which to examine French history, politics, geography, and culture. Our students gave presentations about regional identity and specialties, and we had lively debates about the Michelin star system for restaurants and the increasing presence of fast food.

Alyson eating a French dinner with her Explorations class.

Alyson eating a French dinner with her Explorations class.

After graduating, Lindsay spent a year teaching English in Paris, and I am currently living in Rennes, where I work in a microbiology lab studying the bacteria responsible for cheese flavor. My project is funded by a Fulbright grant. Of course, I spend a fair amount of time tasting cheese, too.” –Alyson Yee, A12

“I served two terms on the ExCollege Board and also taught an Explorations course on soccer and society.  As a result of my service, I fell in love with higher education and enrolled in a Master’s program at the University of Pennsylvania in Higher Education Administration.  After receiving my Master’s, I found a position at Drexel University in graduate admissions where I help enroll students for Drexel’s College of Nursing and Westphal College of Media, Arts, & Design.  Although I work in admissions, I one day dream of starting an ExCollege at another university, and I continue to discuss my experience at the ExCollege with anyone who will listen.” –Danny Wittels, A11

“At the same time I was making movies for my Film Practice minor and working for the ExCollege’s Digital Imaging Center, I interned for several professional sports teams.   My last internship—as the Video Intern for the Boston Bruins—lasted past graduation and through the Stanley Cup Finals.  After nursing the ensuing broken heart for a month, I went to work as a Video Production Assistant for the Boston Red Sox, whose season ended just a bit more happily.  While I anxiously wait for Opening Day, I do freelance video work for the Bruins and for the United States Women’s National Soccer Team.” –Lynne Koester, A13

“As an undergraduate at Tufts, I had the honor of serving on the ExCollege Board during my junior and senior years. My ExCollege highlights include: students vs. faculty trivia nights, marathon Money Meetings, and, of course, taking ExCollege classes. I am currently in my second year of graduate school at the University of Virginia pursuing a PhD in American history. My dissertation focuses on the corporate restructuring of urban public education and examines the roots of why, amidst the partisan rancor of Obama’s presidency, there is a bipartisan consensus on public education policy.” –Benji Cohen, A11

ExCollege Beginnings

In 1953 when Nils Wessel began his tenure at Tufts, he set out to transform Tufts from a “good, gray school” into a “small university of high quality.” Wessel’s desire for concrete change on campus sparked years of committees, meetings, and investigative groups on the Hill; focusing efforts on change, innovation, and taking the kinds of risks essential to the vitality of an academic community. During the process, Wessel stated, “We discussed, argued, discarded, and amended a host of ‘brilliant ideas.’ Finally one day Sandy [Tredinnick], perhaps out of impatience, said to me, ‘OK, Bosso, if you had full say what would you do?’ I said immediately, without hesitation, ‘I would create an experimental college.’” That idea quickly took root, and the Experimental College came into focus in 1964 with the colloquium Contemporary European Novels, which was the first comparative literature class taught at Tufts and was open to the entire Tufts community.

President Nils Wessel Tufts Digital Collections and Archives, http://hdl.handle.net/10427/2354

President Nils Wessel
Tufts Digital Collections and Archives, http://hdl.handle.net/10427/2354

Fast forward 50 years, and the ExCollege now offers over 100 courses each year to almost 1,500 Tufts students! Over those 50 years, the ExCollege continues to represent Wessel’s original vision of a continually evolving, experimental institution on campus. Programs originally fostered through the ExCollege have even found their way into the main Tufts curriculum, showcasing the ability of the ExCollege to make a long-lasting impact on Tufts!

We’ve listed just a few of the languages, courses, and programs that began through the ExCollege:

LANGUAGES THAT BEGAN AT THE EXCOLLEGE

  • Hebrew
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Swahili
  • American Sign Language
  • Portuguese

PROGRAMS AND AREA STUDIES THAT GREW OUT OF THE EXCOLLEGE

  • Dance
  • Computer Science
  • Women’s Studies
  • African American Studies
  • Photography
  • Peace and Justice Studies
  • Institute of Global Leadership and EPIIC
  • Native American Studies
  • Communications and Media Studies

COURSES THAT WERE FIRST TAUGHT THROUGH THE EXCOLLEGE

  • History of Jazz
  • Race and Awareness within American Society
  • Homelessness in America
  • Death Penalty in America
  • Screenwriting

Peer Teaching at the ExCollege

Since 1967, the ExCollege has provided Tufts undergraduates with the opportunity to design their own course and teach fellow Jumbos through the Peer Teaching program. Peer-taught courses often revolve around current issues; allowing for dynamic classroom spaces that make students re-think and re-shape the way they view the world. Currently, the ExCollege is on the look-out for Peer Teachers for Spring 2014. If you are a student and want to share your expertise in your own course, please apply! Before you submit your application, please get in touch with us (excollege@tufts.edu or 617-627-3384) with your course idea. The application is available on our main website. The deadline for applications is November 1.

Peer-taught course topics over the past 46 years continually morph based on changing student needs and contemporary issues. From 1970′s course “The Draft” to 2012′s class “Game Strategy,” exceptional peer instructors challenge their students while igniting dialogue and sparking ideas.

For a glimpse into the world of Peer Teaching, our intrepid summer intern Benji Cohen (A11 and former ExCollege student board member) put together a snapshot of the Spring 2007 course “The Future is Lost: The TV Series as Cultural Phenomenon” taught by Chadwick Matlin (A07) and Ed Kalafarski (A06).

The Course: The Future is Lost: The TV Series as Cultural Phenomenon, Spring 2007

The Peer-Teachers: Chadwick Matlin (A07) and Ed Kalafarski (A06) used ABC’s smash-hit drama “Lost” as an academic text to analyze the future of media and the intersection between technology, media, and economics.

Lost and Society: The class explored how the show has become a pop culture sensation, but equally importantly how ABC markets and positions the show in its television lineup. In addition, the online community devoted to “Lost” demonstrated, in Chad and Ed’s eyes, a significant turning point in the relationship between media and society. As Chad remarked, “the Internet is bringing people together to deal with something that is usually referred to as just a hobby, but here it’s becoming what people do when they come home from work for three hours at night.” Chad marveled that “Lost” mobilized “people in our reality based on a fictional show,” and attempted to teach his students that such mobilization was targeted by ABC executives because showbiz, after all, is a business.

Reception: Chad and Ed’s course received local, national, and even international attention and acclaim. Chad and Ed’s class was featured in the Boston Globe, USA Today, the Huffington Post, and NPR,  “Lost” producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse caught wind of the class from California and had a conference call to answer students’ questions, and Chad was interviewed by BBC radio.

Reflection: Chad told the Tufts Daily that in the end “Lost” was an entertaining means to an academic end. He said, “we’re instructing students on the new media landscape, and what it means to watch TV in the 21st century in the Internet-dominated world that we live in.” As ExCollege Director Robyn Gittleman told the Globe, Chad and Ed created “a very thoughtful syllabus that explored all aspects of the show. . . . It had many, many layers with different educational goals.”

Where Are They Now: After graduating from Tufts, Chad was an associate editor at TheBigMoney.com, Slate’s business site. He has written for Fortune.com, New York, The Atlantic, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Columbia Journalism Review, and Talking Points Memo. He is currently a senior editor for Reuters Opinion, Reuters’ online commentary arm. Ed received a Masters in Computer Science from Brown University in 2009. He has worked for Google since 2007, focusing on the Google Maps app. In addition, he was the project manager and lead developer for Slate’s “Map the Candidates” tool during the 2008 presidential election.

Preparing for our 50th Anniversary

2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Experimental College at Tufts. In preparation for a series of events this coming spring, we’re very busy sorting through old course books, posters, newspaper articles, instructor bios, and so much more in order to put together a comprehensive look at the past five decades. Diving into such a rich and complex history produces some wonderful ExCollege artifacts that need to be shared! As we come across these interesting ExCollege facts, figures, and photographs, we’ll be sharing them on our blog.

Here is an early sampling of photographs discovered going through old reports created by the ExCollege.

They Grow Up So Fast!

This summer we’ve caught up with some ExCollege office “alums” — folks who worked at the ExCollege during or after their time at Tufts — and they are doing all sorts of crazy things like getting new jobs, getting engaged and married, and even having babies! Yikes! Kate Drizos was a student worker in our office and helped to coordinate orientation for several years. She just got engaged to David Cavell, another Tufts alum. Kezia (Duchatellier) Sylvia was a Program Assistant for the ExCollege the year after she graduated, and she just had a baby boy with her husband, Brett Sylvia, another Tufts alum. Rumor has it that Ali Mehlsak, another former student worker, board member, and Program Assistant, is traveling cross-country as I write. And Melissa Burke, Program Assistant just this past year, is now working for Tufts Advancement as a Special Events Assistant. How were you a part of the ExCollege, and what are you up to now?