Visitors to Fletcher end up hearing us talk about the community all the time. The constant refrain can become trite, but the fact is that the community is a very important part of the experience for students, and even for those of us who work here.

Today’s entry is to consider the meaning of community. Beyond good participation at lectures or Africana Night. Beyond crowds of caffeine-lovers at coffee hour. What does it mean when we say that Fletcher has a strong community?

One of our students, Erica Murray, has been battling leukemia since shortly after she enrolled. Despite a leave of absence, and treatments during the semesters she was here, she has been a valued member of the community. Last fall, she was one of the student interviewers for the Admissions Office. When it came time to schedule her for an interview slot, Erica asked me not to assign her on a Wednesday, the day she had her chemo treatments. Thankfully, few Fletcher students face the kind of real-world challenge that Erica was facing. Of those few students with the real-world challenges, few take time to volunteer for the Admissions Office. But Erica’s remarkable spirit enabled her (somehow!) to give her time to the community, while attending classes and, most important, taking care of her own health.

Erica has kept a blog of her experiences, and I admire it. She has written in a way that captures both the enormity of her challenges, as well as the day-to-day annoyances. And her spirit comes through so clearly. (Check out her entry and the photos from her last days at Fletcher before she returned home to San Francisco for treatment, as well as the video of her song.) In fact, much as I admire the blog, it’s Erica who has earned the true admiration of so many of us at Fletcher.

Erica’s leukemia has returned, and her best hope is a bone marrow transplant. And here’s where the community comes in. Fletcher students organized a bone marrow registration drive, which took place last Wednesday. Over 400 students, professors, and staff members from throughout Tufts University had themselves added to the registry. Particularly important to Erica was registering non-Caucasians, because Erica is Eurasian. The minority community came through in a strong way to show its support. The representative from the National Marrow Donor Program told students that a university drive that results in 75 new potential donors is considered a success. The rep said Fletcher’s drive was the best she had seen, by far! Read some reactions to the drive at the Facebook page “1000 Voices in Support of Erica Murray.”

The objective of the Admissions blog is to shed light on Fletcher and on the admissions process. Nonetheless, I hope you will also take a minute to look at Erica’s blog, as well as the information about becoming a bone marrow donor. Welcome to the community of Erica’s supporters.


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