The first post of Annual Reports from student organizations helped me draw a few more.  I always divide student organizations broadly between those that have a curricular link and those that have their focus squarely on relaxation.  I’m sure you’ll figure out where the following three groups fall.

Fletcher Social Investment Group
Jesse Simmons

The Fletcher Social Investment Group (FSIG) will soon wrap up its second year on Fletcher campus.  FSIG is a student-run group dedicated to the study and practice of impact investing and the development of the next generation of social investment leaders.  To accomplish this goal, FSIG focuses on three core competencies: advisory services to social enterprises, investment analysis and due diligence for angel investors, and research and education on impact investing.

Over the past academic year, FSIG has provided advisory services to 10 clients, including assisting with a market entry strategy for a renewable energy analytics firm and a business development strategy for a mobile provider of produce in food deserts.  FSIG has also partnered with two angel investor collaboratives to provide support in the due diligence process.  These engagements have allowed students to develop their skill sets while addressing business and investor challenges, providing them with hands-on experience with investment cycles and consulting approaches.

FSIG has also taken a lead in providing impact investing education here at Fletcher.  FSIG led groups through a series of Acumen courses on business and financial skills for the social sector, as well as organized a set of trainings featuring faculty experts.  FSIG also co-hosted the Impact Investing and Community Finance Conference, featuring speakers from Goldman Sachs, Acumen, and Third Sector Capital Partners.  A group of FSIG members participated in the MBA Impact Investing Network and Training (MIINT) competition held at the Wharton School, with students sourcing and conducting due diligence on early stage impact investment opportunities to present to an investment committee of judges.  Finally, FSIG produces the Investing in Impact podcast, which can be found on iTunes or on the FSIG website.

As it prepares for next year, FSIG is eager to strengthen relationships with the Tufts community and with other local partners.  To help develop a pipeline of prospective clients and projects, FSIG will have an intern working closely with Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context this summer.  To partner with FSIG moving forward or keep up with its work, please visit FSIG.org.

Fletcher’s Net Impact Club
Ben Costigan and Harper Gay

Fletcher’s Net Impact Club aims to inspire, educate, and equip members to use the power of business to create a socially and environmentally sustainable world.  We strive to create an environment and community that ensures all Fletcher students graduate thinking about their social impact, whatever career path they chose.

Net Impact is a network of 95,000+ students and professionals from over 300 chapters worldwide who are collectively committed to thinking about four key issues and their relation to the business world: (1) sustainable food and agriculture; (2) social justice; (3) transportation and mobility; and (4) energy and the environment.  Fletcher Net Impact is one of the 69 graduate chapters to receive “gold status,” demonstrating that we are leading the way for Net Impact’s global network.

Our chapter actively collaborates with other Boston-area student and professional Net Impact chapters to provide access to events and speakers; internship and job opportunities; technical trainings and certification programs; and a like-minded community to empower students dedicated to achieving positive social and environmental impact through their lives and careers.

Some highlights from the past year include: a site visit to BJ’s Wholesale Club to learn about quality assurance and supply chain sustainability; a networking Happy Hour with local chapters; a roundtable with leading female entrepreneurs from the Boston area; a Global Reporting Initiative Certification Workshop; and a Career Summit panel on ESG Investing.

Fletcher Fútbol
Jesse Simmons and Liam Connolly

On Friday evenings every fall, Fletcher students close their books and start the weekend by hollering themselves hoarse in support of the Fletcher Fútbol team.  Playing in front of the beloved “Fletcher Hooligans,” Fletcher Fútbol is a co-ed all-inclusive club that plays competitively against other graduate schools in the Boston Graduate Soccer League, including MIT Sloan, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Business School.

For 90 blissful minutes each week, Fletcher Fútbol offers students of all walks, commitments, beliefs, and dispositions the opportunity to escape from their daily travails through the therapy of long balls, short passes, cutting runs, and collective exaltation.  Fletcher Fútbol is the Fletcher School’s foremost Sports Diplomacy practitioners club.  We believe in using the world’s most common language — soccer — to connect students from around the world through a common love of the beautiful game.

Fletcher Fútbol is a cultural, athletic, and therapeutic cornerstone of the Fletcher community.  Fletcher’s 2016 team cheer — “I don’t have friends because all I’ve got is family” — highlights the unity, community, and passion with which their players wear the orange and white.

Continuing an annual tradition, for last night’s Fletcher Follies event students compiled clips of their classmates dancing in locations around the world.  Why do I love the yearly Where the Hell is Fletcher video?  Is it because of the dancing or the cinematography?  Ummm, no.  It’s because students care enough about being part of the community project that they keep it in mind during their travels throughout the year, and then they carry through with exuberance!

Please enjoy (so long as YouTube/copyright issues in your viewing location don’t get in the way), “Where the Hell is Fletcher 2016.”

 

I don’t steal from my past writing as much as I could (or, even, should), but today I thought I’d toss out the links to a couple of past posts on housing.  Lots of enrolling students are starting to think about where they’ll be living come September.

My first link takes us back to when student staffer Ariel had her own admissions advice column.  She runs through the basics of how to kick off a housing search.

Next was a post in which I described the different neighborhood options for housing-hunting students, and how close together all those areas are.

Finally, I tidied up my sloppy tagging, so that more of the relevant posts can be found with this housing tag.

The perfect apartment is not likely to appear without some effort, but all of our students succeed in finding something that works for them.  Give yourself some time to search (by which I mean, start now!) and it will all be fine.

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Less than a month remains before graduation in May.  Let’s take a look at the two-year Annotated Curriculum of Aditi, one of our graduating bloggers.

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Dasra, Mumbai, India
PRS Legislative Research, New Delhi, India

Fields of Study
Development Economics
Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (self-designed)

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Technology for development; monitoring and evaluation

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

I came to Fletcher with an interest in technology for development and in design, monitoring, and evaluation.  I was lucky to start my year off with the Design and Monitoring module, where I not only learned a great deal, but also made some of my closest friends at Fletcher.  I also decided to take some basic quantitative classes such as statistics and quantitative methods in order to help me feel more prepared for classes down the road.  Social Network Analysis and Corporate Social Responsibility were courses I took to try and explore new areas — although I came to Fletcher with a very clear sense of what I wanted to do, I also wanted to make sure that I tried out some new subjects.

Semester Two

After spending winter break with friends in the warmer climes of New Orleans and Austin, I returned early to Fletcher to dive into Evaluation, the second module of the Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DME) course series.  My spring semester was focused on specific skills I knew I wanted to gain before the summer and before second year, so that I would have the option to take courses that I found more challenging.  I took my econometrics class at the Friedman School in downtown Boston since the Fletcher course was over-subscribed, which turned out to be a great experience.  In addition to furthering my knowledge of monitoring and evaluation, I also brushed up on basic research methods and had the chance to learn more about financial inclusion, a topic about which I had heard a lot but never had the chance to formally study.  The semester was also made more challenging by the fact that I was working more hours a week at my campus job than I could realistically handle, but in retrospect, I’m glad I took the opportunity to earn a little extra money for my summer internship!

Summer Internship
Manos de Madres, Kigali, Rwanda

Since I already wrote about my summer internship, I’ll just say a few quick words about how my academics at Fletcher fit into it.  My courses in design, monitoring, and evaluation and financial inclusion really gave me the tools to apply to my work with Manos de Madres — from conducting a Theory of Chance exercise with the team in Kigali, to thinking through how the savings group program could be improved, I found myself falling back on my Fletcher classes time and again.  I also spent some time over the summer conducting research for my Capstone Project.

Semester Three

I returned to Fletcher early once again, this time to be the teaching assistant for the DME course series.  I hadn’t had much of a break or a holiday over the summer, but decided to dive right into my year and challenge myself with my courses.  I had taken so many requirements in the previous year in order to build up to taking a certain set of classes, and I was loath to let any of those go — and so I ended up (very happily) over-extending myself and learning more in one semester than I could ever have imagined.  By the end of the year, I couldn’t believe my newfound comfort with numbers, or the confidence with which I could read and interpret statistics.  Although the course load was incredibly hard, I don’t think I have ever worked harder or been prouder of myself.  On the flip side, I didn’t have quite as much fun enjoying all the other wonderful things that Fletcher has to offer, and so I decided that come spring semester, I would focus on a select few things and aim to do them well, while spending time enjoying the full Fletcher experience.

Semester Four

After a rushed and exciting trip back home to India for a friend’s wedding, I came back early as the teaching assistant for the Evaluation module of the DME series.  In true “senioritis” fashion, I realized I had left some of my requirements to the end of my time at Fletcher, and found two of my credits filled by those courses.  Given that I wanted to focus on my Capstone, I enrolled in an Independent Study with my advisor, Professor Jenny Aker, and then took two half-credit courses in topics that seemed very interesting to me but that I had little knowledge of.  So far, the semester has been a good balance, and I have been careful not to overcommit, to make time for enjoying friends, lectures, and all the other events that Fletcher has to offer.

Of course, I also have to make sure that I find time to apply to jobs and figure out what comes next for me after this wonderful journey — so cross your fingers and hope that my next (and last!) post on this blog as a Fletcher student brings good news!

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I love hearing from alumni, and not only when they send me news for the blog.  But if they happen to send something newsworthy, well, I’m certainly going to seize the opportunity to share.

On Monday, I was pleasantly surprised by an email from Atanas, a 2015 grad.  He recently started in a new position at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, working on climate resilience.  I’ll let him continue the story:

Last week I was lucky to be working at the Executive Office of the UN Secretary General on the organization of the Paris agreement signature ceremony, and on Friday, I witnessed first-hand this historic moment.  I met a few presidents, including Colombia’s President and Fletcher grad Juan Manuel Santos, and had a brief chat with Leo DiCaprio who is UN Messenger of Peace and delivered a speech during the ceremony.  It was certainly a day to remember.

But one of the most powerful experiences I had was listening to a Fletcher alumna who spoke on a panel in the afternoon of the same day — Rachel Kyte, who is the CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) and Special Representative of the Secretary General.  She talked only for five minutes but completely captivated the audience and, according to everyone working in this area, hers was one of the best speeches given in a long time.

I’ll plug in a few details about Rachel Kyte.  She’s a 2002 graduate of the GMAP program and, also, currently a Fletcher professor of practice of sustainable development, associated with the Center for International Environment and Research Policy.

The forum at which Atanas heard her speak was “Taking Climate Action to the Next Level: Realizing the Vision of the Paris Agreement.”  Click the photo below to hear her comments following a question at about 1:47:00.

Professor Rachel Kyte, F02, speaking before a UN panel on climate change.

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This is the last full week of classes for the spring semester, the 2015-16 academic year, and the Fletcher in-class experience of those who are graduating.  And I know what it means for those of us on the staff.  There will still be a full house for the last day of classes on Monday, but the student population will drop off remarkably quickly after that.  Following two study days, first-year MALD and MIB students will take their exams and then start to disappear — most of them heading off to their internships.  Graduating students usually stay around to relax and participate in “Dis-Orientation” week before Commencement weekend, but they tend not to hang out in the building.  After Commencement, it will be very very quiet around here.

This week's calendarMy informal and unscientific poll of students indicates that their current stress level varies greatly.  Whereas one student had the semester’s toughest week last week, another is looking ahead to a miserable finals week, and still another is suffering now.  They’re a remarkably durable bunch, though, and I know they’ll get through it.  Oh, and while they’re sweating over exams, papers, presentations, and capstones, there’s still a full agenda of out-of-class activities.

The Admissions Staff is just coming out of an especially busy month of meeting admitted applicants, answering questions, and otherwise doing what we needed to do to help students decide whether to enroll at Fletcher.  A little quiet seems like a good thing right now.  It will be less welcome by week six of the summer break, when we’ll very much wish for a student to pop in and interrupt our work.

 

I have a little something different to offer today.  Remember Mirza?  He was a MALD student who wrote for the blog in 2013-14 and 2014-2015, and since then he has been alternating work that builds on his Fletcher studies with a continuation of the music career he had pre-Fletcher, with the duo Arms and Sleepers (AAS).  Recently, I read something he had posted on his Facebook page and asked if I could share it on the blog.  It struck me as bringing together so much of what makes Mirza interesting — his personal history, his directness and honesty, his work as a musician, and the insights he will have developed at Fletcher.  I’m glad he agreed to let me share his thoughts.  Post-Fletcher careers in the arts are not typical, but those graduates who pursue them are not alone. 

As a further introduction, today Mirza noted, “I have performed in Georgia the country and Georgia the U.S. state; Moscow, Idaho and Moscow, Russia; Athens, Georgia and Athens, Greece; (the) Mexico and New Mexico.”  He definitely covers a lot of territory.  Speaking of which, let me share his upcoming tour schedule.  If you live or are traveling in any of these locations, I’m sure Mirza would be happy to see you.  He has always welcomed Fletcher alumni, students, and even applicants to his performances in the past.  

And with that, I’ll let Mirza share his story.  

I’ve been telling this story at my shows on the current tour so I’ll share it here as well, especially as I am in northern Greece at the moment.

Being a musician and doing this for a living, I often feel conflicted about the importance and impact of what I do, compared to what’s happening in the world.  I arrived at Amsterdam airport the morning of the Brussels airport bombings, and was traveling to Greece via Brussels airport last week.  I am now in northern Greece about to play three shows, practically right next to the refugee camps where people have only one thing on their mind: survival.  I’ve been on that side as well.  When I left Bosnia with my mother in 1992, we only had survival on our mind, too.  We were lucky to escape the war, but we wanted the world to pay attention to our struggles and help us start a new life somewhere else.  Almost every country closed its borders to us, and hours (many hours) spent waiting in line at the Norwegian/Swedish/Canadian/etc. embassies resulted in nothing but rejection.  We were lucky, once again, to be taken by the U.S. after years of trying.

Today, I am on the other side, doing something I love and something that I helped build myself.  I perform music across the world, and even if I am only a small artist, I feel incredibly privileged and lucky that people are willing to pay me to come to their country and play a show.  So as I am writing this in Thessaloniki, Greece, I feel weird because I think about some western artist who might have been performing in Croatia at the same time that my mother and I were traveling on ferries and buses with two suitcases looking for a better future.  Now that western artist is me.

I keep saying that music is important, because it is.  At almost every show I meet someone who tells me how much our music has impacted him/her.  In Bristol, UK, a girl was crying after our show because she heard her favorite song live; in Chongqing, China, someone told me our CD was the first she ever purchased outside of China; in Guatemala City, the show organizer told me that our music opened his eyes (ears?) eight years ago to all kinds of new music he never knew about before; in St. Petersburg, Russia, a young girl told me that she has a heart condition and can’t go to loud shows, as per her doctor, but came to my show anyway and felt free for the first time in a long time; a girl in Poznan, Poland recently got sick and ended up in a wheelchair — she told me that my show was an hour during which she could forget about all the overwhelming negativity in her life; in Ukraine in the summer of 2014, I was thanked endlessly for not canceling my tour and for being one of the only artists to play in the eastern part of the country; in 2009, we wrote a song that was the first thing a newborn in Nashville, Tennessee heard; a guy flew on a plane in Russia for the first time just to come to an AAS show; and I continue receiving Facebook messages from young people in Tehran, Iran telling me how much our music has been influential in the city’s underground electronic music scene.  These are not ego-boosters, but little stories that are important to me because they involve people’s actual lives, and it is unbelievably humbling to have any amount of impact in someone else’s life.

So I don’t know, I continue feeling conflicted because I’ve been on both sides — I’ve been a refugee who nobody wanted and I’ve been a teenager/adult who needed music to get through difficult times.  As I play these shows in northern Greece over the next three nights, I’ll be doing plenty of self-examination and figuring out how to best contribute positively in this messy world, with and without music.

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Continuing our return to spring break, along with yesterday’s post by McKenzie, today we’ll read about Tatsuo’s trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories.  Fletcher offered a trek to this region, but Tatsuo will explain that he ended up joining students from Harvard Kennedy School for their trek.

Over the recent spring break, Fletcher students organized a Fletcher Policy Trek to Israel.  I applied for Fletcher’s trek, but I wasn’t accepted because there was a lot of competition for the available places; however, I had another opportunity to join such a trek to Israel, through Harvard Kennedy School.  Many events at HKS welcome the participation of Fletcher students.  I think that having access to the resources of one of the world’s largest universities is a big advantage of Fletcher.

In line with this, I eventually joined HKS’s Israel trek.  It was a little more costly than that of Fletcher because of the size.  (HKS’s trek had over 100 students, while Fletcher’s trek is limited to about 50 participants. The funding resources were about equal, which meant I needed to pay more.)  But the places we visited were almost the same and I was also pleased to make friends with enjoyable and interesting students from HKS and other Harvard schools.

I knew something about Israel and the neighboring Palestinian territories as a Japanese public officer and a student of international relations.  However, through the entire trek, I realized that knowledge from books (or the internet) is just knowledge itself.  Everything I saw, everywhere I went, and everyone I met were interesting, thoughtful, and impressive.

Tatsuo, Golan 2In an area of Israel near the Gaza district, we saw concrete-covered bus stops and other shelters to avoid rocket bombing from Gaza.  The IDF base at the Gaza border crossing had a very serious atmosphere.  On the other hand, in the Golan Heights, the other area fronting a conflict zone, we were surprised by the peaceful scenery.  We drove through an old Syrian Army headquarters, trenches, broken battle tanks, and dead villages.  We also saw an ISIS controlled town, Quneitra from the top of the hill in the Golan Heights.  The Syrian Army and ISIS are still fighting over the area, but UN peacekeeping officers seemed to be relaxed and welcomed us to take a picture with them.  There were also many tourists chatting and drinking coffee.  The contrast between the peaceful scenery, old military facilities, and the ongoing conflict area was very strange.

The wallThe contrast between the Palestinian areas and Israeli occupied villages in the West Bank was also thought-provoking.  Over the separation wall/security fence, we faced an undeveloped and struggling community.  Almost all buildings placed black plastic tanks to store water on the roofs.  The landscape with many steep hills seemed to be hard to cultivate.  By contrast, the Israeli villages were well developed, beautiful, and clean.  I had already understood that the Israeli people enjoyed well-developed lives, unlike those of the Palestinians.  But I was moved by the clear and sad contrast in very close vicinity.

When we walked around the old city of Jerusalem, the guide said we walked on the floor of the Jewish district and on the roof of the Muslim district at the same time.

Israel is very small country.  We could see the skyscrapers in Tel Aviv from the hills of the West Bank.  However, I was surprised by the power of Israel.  I don’t mean the military power.  There were modern and developed cities, well-maintained infrastructure, beautiful cultivated fields, and green forests.  I heard that most trees in Israel were specially planted, not wild.  Compared with other Middle East countries that I have been to, the land of Israel seemed to be an oasis in the desert.  I was impressed by the power but I also felt mixed emotions.  The oasis did not benefit the surrounding region and people, including the Palestinian people, unlike a natural oasis that can feed anyone who visits there.

Western WallWhile I was moved by such interesting but complex experiences, I also enjoyed the trek by swimming in the Dead Sea, riding camels, and of course, eating and drinking!  In particular, the region has a lot of historical sites.  Masada, the ancient fortress of Jewish rebels against the Roman Empire was one of the most interesting places for me.  I climbed the hill using the ramp that the Roman Army built for attacking thousands of years ago, and from the steep edge, I observed the walls and camps of the great empire.

The entire trek was a very nice opportunity for me.  Although I could always visit Israel by myself, on the trek I visited places that would be hard to go to if I went by myself.  I met people who are too busy to meet with a typical tourist such as Salam Fayyad, the former prime minister of the Palestine Authority, and Yair Lapid, the former minister of finance of Israel.  And I shared the time and my feelings with many interesting Harvard friends.

Now, I am still struggling to catch up on the tasks that I had to skip because HKS’s spring break was one week before that of Fletcher.  But the trek was surely worth the hard work.  If you will be at Fletcher next spring, I strongly recommend that you join Fletcher’s or HKS’s Israel Trek, or another interesting study trek that might be offered!

Tatsuo collage

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This week is April vacation week for Massachusetts school children, and I’m going to use that as my explanation for turning the clock back to the March spring break for Fletcher students.  Student bloggers McKenzie and Tatsuo will each describe their travels far from campus.  First, McKenzie writes about the trip she planned with friends.

Hey all,

I’m back from a brief blog hiatus these past few months and want to share an update from an amazing spring break trip I took at the end of March.  Along with five other Fletcher friends, I traveled to New Delhi, India for what was one of the more action-packed yet wonderful spring breaks I’ve had.

Before @ Holi

McKenzie, third from left, and Fletcher friends with their host.

After 22 hours of travel, our crew arrived in hazy New Delhi at roughly 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.  Unsure of the time and date, we hopped in a car sent by a classmate of ours who grew up in the city and we sped toward her family’s home, where we were greeted with hot showers and a wonderful, homemade breakfast.

Soon we loaded back in a car and headed just outside the south side of Delhi to a garment factory in Faridabad.  A classmate on our trip who previously worked at Gap arranged the visit, as the factory was the first in Gap Inc.’s network to launch the PACE (Personal Advancement & Career Achievement) program, designed to empower women working in the factory and and to provide leadership development to enhance their careers and build confidence.  After learning about the program’s origins, we met with some of the women who had attended the program and since advanced to line management positions.  Then, we got to tour the factory and see the production first-hand.  The experience overall was a lot to take in, but it was truly a Fletcher-esque opportunity.

Following the factory visit, we returned to our friend’s home in time to change and head to her cousin’s house to watch what we learned was a very important cricket match.  If my understanding is correct, India-Pakistan cricket matches of the type and level we got to watch are not very frequent, which meant the celebration was on par with some of the better Super Bowl parties I’ve heard about back in the States.  At around 11:00 p.m. that night, we returned home for some much-needed sleep.  And that was just the first day.

Group @ Taj MahalOver the next few days, we traveled to Agra and Jaipur to see several famous monuments, treat ourselves to some fabulous Indian food, and browse Jaipur’s famous fabric and other markets.  On Wednesday afternoon, we drove back to New Delhi in time for one of the greatest national holidays I’ve had the privilege to experience: Holi.

Holi is a Hindu religious festival that, from what I was told, celebrates the conquering of good over evil and the coming of spring.  The night before Holi, many people light a bonfire, which signifies the burning of Holika.  Our hosts also tossed wheat chaffs into the fire as a symbol of thanks for the impending harvest.

The next day, we had the opportunity to “play Holi” with our friend’s extended family, which consisted first of a short Hindu ceremony with all the family present.  The ceremony ends with some tame additions of colored powder to the foreheads of those present, after which the family moves to an outdoor courtyard and the fun really begins.  While you start the day in pristinely clean clothes, you end up covered in pink, blue, green, yellow, red, and orange dye – in your clothes, in your hair, on your face, and in my case even in your contact lenses (one of mine was bright yellow!).  Fletcher does HoliEverywhere.  I promise, it’s a great time.  The most wonderful part of Holi is that truly everyone participates.  Young and old, men and women, everyone joins in and plays.  The kids of the family even developed a full attack plan complete with code words: they hoped to distract us by shouting “hamburger!” then lure us “with words” to be subsequently doused by water balloons and water guns.  I suppose they have a few more years to learn the finer points of diplomacy and international affairs…

Holi traditions - dye barrelThe day culminated in what has to be a family-specific tradition: each of us in turn was dunked in a barrel drum of homemade, bright yellow flower dye.  Even three weeks after Holi, there were still minor tints of that yellow in my hair.  It was a great reminder of a wonderful trip, and is a great example of the many ways that Fletcher students contrive to fill their time with enriching yet adventurous trips during their time away from school.

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April 20.  The day when admitted students need to tell us their enrollment plans.  Quite a lot of people have submitted decisions already, but an unsurprisingly large number have not.  That’s fine.  Take your time.  You have until 11:59 p.m. EDT (UTC -4) tonight.

If you need one last piece of information on “Why Fletcher?”, perhaps these videos would be helpful for you.  Note that there are additional videos hiding behind the degree program tabs about halfway down the page.

Thursday starts a new chapter for the Admissions Office — one that includes only enrolling students and that is marked by less overstuffed inboxes.  It’s nice when those people who were once only applications to us become real future students!

As ever, please contact us with your last-minute questions!

 

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