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First, a note.  I’ve received emails from quite a few people in the last two weeks wondering when they’ll hear from us with the decision on their applications.  The answer is: not for a while!  We’re still mid-process — seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, for sure, but far from done.  Hang tight!

Liz and I are both at home reading today.  More accurately, Liz is reading, and I’m reading when I’m not writing a blog post.  Dan and I have already told you about our reading days.  Today the rest of the staff chimes in, survey style.  (Thank you to Kristen for providing the survey questions!)

Do you listen to music while reading?

Christine: Yes, something that is not distracting, though. Taylor Swift’s “1989” has been great background noise!  I’m also a fan of the iPod Genius mixes for anything moody and 90s (Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls, etc.).

Kristen: On and off.  I find that some well-timed lively Latin American pop can help get me through a long afternoon.

Laurie: I find music very distracting when I am reading applications (or reading anything for that matter).  However, I do like the steady hum of my space heater.  The extra heat is a real plus as well.

Liz: I actually don’t.  I like silence, though sometimes a little background noise is nice.  More recently I’ve been reading during “snow days,” when Tufts has closed due to inclement weather, which normally is a rare occasion.  Given the weather, lately I’ve had the news on in the background while reading to keep up with the storm!  But usually, I don’t have any music, etc.

Favorite beverage to accompany your reading?

Kristen: Coffee, followed by some more coffee and perhaps a cup of coffee after that.

Laurie: I alternate between hot and cold beverages all day long.  Coffee in the morning (of course), cold water throughout the day, and then tea in the afternoon.

Liz: This depends a bit on the time of day! I’m a big fan of hydration, so I tend to have a large water bottle that I refill throughout the day.  In the morning I also will have a nice hot cup of coffee, and in the afternoon, I sometimes will make a fruit smoothie.  It breaks up the day and is a nice treat to look forward to!

Christine: Water, always water.  Sometimes a nice hot tea when the mood strikes.

Pet peeve while reading applications?

Laurie: My biggest pet peeve is when I misspell or mistype words when I am writing my notes.  Our new system does not have an auto correct and I always need to go back and edit my work.

Liz: My biggest pet peeve when reading is when an applicant doesn’t follow directions or pay attention to details within the essays.  We’ve seen it all as readers — including applicants whose essays are written for other schools.  A word to the wise: stick to the word limit, answer the questions we have asked and read through your essays to ensure you’ve uploaded the essay for the right school!  Attention to detail is important, and is something we keep our eye on.

Christine: Applicants not filling out their academic information completely.

Kristen: A cold room and a shoddy application.

What incentive do you give yourself to help make it through a pile of applications?

Liz: For me, my incentive is always food!  I won’t let myself eat breakfast until I’ve read at least a few files on a long read day.  The same thing is true for eating lunch or a snack.  I always make a “hot” lunch on read days as well, since I don’t normally do that during the week.  I usually will give myself a goal and when I meet that goal, my reward is a tasty treat.

Christine: If I get through five applications, I can take a stretch break.  If I get through 10, I can have a snack break!

Kristen: Coffee. Is the coffee thing coming through?

Laurie: Reading days are all about incentives!  Throughout the day I set reading goals to meet before getting a drink, eating lunch, moving to a new reading location, taking a shower, etc.

Your reading “mascot”?

Christine: Not really a mascot, but reading means I can cuddle up in my favorite blanket on the couch, and have the fire on when it is chilly.  It is especially idyllic when the snow is falling, which has happened a lot this reading season!

Kristen:  I’ve got two little kiddos, so seeing them (or even a picture of them) livens up the day.

Laurie: I do not have any mascots, but I do need my reading space organized to maximize comfort and efficiency before I can start.  I need pillows, a blanket, a place for my water, a stool for my feet and a surface for my mouse.  I rarely read at a desk or on a table because it is uncomfortable and slows me down.

Liz: I unfortunately don’t have a reading mascot; I do however have a favorite chair I sit in with my lap top.  The key to a great reading day is yummy food, a good lap desk, a warm blanket and cozy socks.  Reading days are one of my favorite things about my job!  We get to learn all about amazing applicants and help build, what we hope will be, a truly remarkable Fletcher class!

Since none of us have mascots that can top Murray for cuteness, here he is again:

Murray sunbathing

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Since Christine has been my partner in the summer blog series, it seemed only fitting to close off the intros together.

Christine Richardson, Admissions Coordinator
Christine moved up from the Staff Assistant position less than a year ago, and she makes sure everything is working perfectly behind the scenes of the application.

Where did you grow up?  Andover, MA (just north of the city and home to the famed Phillips Academy)

What is your favorite place you have traveled to?  My favorite place is a tie between London and Mykonos.  I spent six months living in London during college and it became a second home for me.  But nothing compared to the sunny, relaxed lifestyle on the Greek island of Mykonos!

What is the number one spot on your travel wish list?  East Africa!  I am a lion fanatic and it is my dream to see lions in their natural habitat.

What is your favorite food?  Chocolate Chip Cookies

What book are you currently reading?  The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)

What is the number one place (Boston-area or on campus) you most hope Fletcher students will visit during their short time here?  Fenway Park!  I am a huge Red Sox fan and I think Fenway is one of the most historic, exciting spots in the area. There is nothing like the smell of Fenway Franks on game day!  The best part is you can take tours year round and learn all of the great history and mystery surrounding the park.  Go Red Sox!

Jessica Daniels, Senior Associate Director of Admissions
I’m the office liaison to the PhD program, and I write/edit the blog.  (But you knew that already.)

Where did you grow up?  I grew up in the town of Merrick, on Long Island, New York.  After 25 years in the Boston area, just about the only thing I still miss are the vast white-sand Long Island beaches.

What is your favorite place you have traveled to?  There are so many ways to answer this question.  What’s my favorite place that I have traveled to and lived in?  (Beijing, China) …my favorite place to travel to and see family?  (London, UK)  …my favorite nearby place to spend a summer week?  (Eastham, MA).  But I think the answer to the question as it’s actually worded is Iceland.  I had a wonderful trip there with my family a few years ago.  The scenery is beautiful, the people are nice, the culture is special.  What more could you ask?

What is the number one spot on your travel wish list?  Again, I could name a bunch of places.  We had wanted to go to the Azores this summer.  There’s a direct flight from Boston and it’s super easy, but it didn’t work out this time.  More of a “wish” on my wish list is Cuba.  I’d like to visit before it becomes a typical tourist destination for Americans.

What is your favorite food?  Should I say roasted vegetables, and act all healthy?  Or should I just say ice cream?  Hmmm.  Let’s go with ice cream.

What book are you currently reading?  I’m currently reading The Guts, by Roddy Doyle.  I start off slow reading Doyle’s dialect (I need to hear the Irish in my head), but I’ll quickly pick up the pace.

What is the number one place (Boston-area or on campus) you most hope Fletcher students will visit during their short time here?  The Boston area was the home for several U.S. presidents, and a short trip to Quincy (looks like “quin-see,” but often pronounced “quin-zee” by the locals) lands you at two of them.  John Adams (2nd U.S. president) and his son, John Quincy Adams (6th president), both had their roots in a remarkably small corner of the town.  It’s now a National Historical Park and well worth the trip.

And that wraps up the introduction of the members of the Admissions team.  We’ll close with a photo of the team.


From left to right: Laurie, Christine, Jessica, Dan, Theresa, Kristen, and Liz.

Next time you call, be sure to ask us about our favorite food or travel location!


Continuing to introduce the staff through their answers to Christine’s questions, we turn today to Liz, Theresa, and Kristen, who are found at the alphabetical end of our staff list.  Certain trends are already emerging — staff from New Hampshire and an interest in Iceland, for two examples.

Liz Wagoner, Associate Director of Admissions
Liz works with the applicants and admitted future students in the Map Your Future program, and also frequently reads applications to the MIB program.

Where did you grow up?  This is actually a tough question as I have sort of grown up all over!  I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, spent my early years in Wyoming, and have lived in various locals all around New England for the majority of my life.  Ultimately I think of Peterborough, NH as where I’m from, as I spent most of my time there.

What is your favorite place you have traveled to?  I have several favorites, but it has to be Hong Kong.

What is the number one spot on your travel wish list?  Nepal.

What is your favorite food?  My favorite food in the whole world is steamed clams, otherwise known as “steamers.”  For those who don’t know, steamers are a small soft-shell clam, typically harvested in New England and served with butter.  They are definitely an acquired taste, but I sure love them.  Luckily for me, they are a New England staple and can be found at most seafood restaurants, especially in the summer!

What book are you currently reading?  I just finished a great beach read called Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight.  It was the perfect novel to read while on vacation and had some nice twists that kept me turning the page.

What is the number one place (Boston-area or on campus) you most hope Fletcher students will visit during their short time here?  This is more of a touristy thing that I’m going to recommend, which I would normally shy away from, but I would truly suggest that everyone take a Boston Duck Tour.  I admit they can be a little cheesy, but it really is a great way to see the city of Boston and learn some history and fun facts all at the same time.  It’s family friendly and, since it’s a pretty short tour, students can soon get back to studying, networking, and taking advantage of all the great things Fletcher has to offer!

Theresa Tomic, Admissions Staff Assistant
Theresa is the face of the Admissions Office.  You’ll meet her when you visit, and you may talk to her when you call.

Where did you grow up?  My earliest years were spent in Europe and later in the central Massachusetts area.

What is your favorite place you have traveled to?  Iceland.  It’s quite chic and cosmopolitan, and they have no reptiles!

What is the number one spot on your travel wish list?  One day I would like to visit Kenya.

What is your favorite food?  Favorite food has to be Asian!!

What book are you currently reading?  Top Secret Twenty-One: A Stephanie Plum Novel

What is the number one place (Boston-area or on campus) you most hope Fletcher students will visit during their short time here?  The Tisch Library is a wonderful place to visit.  You can find practically everything you need for academic writing, and the view of Boston from the roof is fantastic.

Kristen Zecchi, Associate Director of Admissions and of the Master of International Business Program
Kristen wears two hats — she manages both MIB admissions and student services for the program.

Where did you grow up?  Like Liz (and so many Fletcher students!), it’s hard to pinpoint, as we moved around a bit.  I was born in Western Massachusetts, moved to Texas, and then to Colorado, which is what I still think of as home.  Between Colorado and Boston, I’ve also lived in Providence, RI; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Sevilla, Spain … so I feel at home with Fletcher’s very international student community.

What is your favorite place you have traveled to?  Buenos Aires is the city nearest to my heart after having lived there, but as a tourist my favorites have been Mexico City and Istanbul.  (Note to applicants: I am clearly not following the prompts here and am cheating by listing several places; be more diligent in your own essays! :))

What is the number one spot on your travel wish list?  Cambodia.

What is your favorite food?  Unoriginal, and very American, but I’d have to say a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  It’s an American classic, and I’m always happy to have one!

What book are you currently reading?  I just finished The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and am about to start The Thing Around Your Neck, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  I’ve read everything else she’s written, and this is the last on the list.  My favorite contemporary writer!

What is the number one place (Boston-area or on campus) you most hope Fletcher students will visit during their short time here?  Again, I’ll cheat here by suggesting two natural wonders, one close to campus on one farther afield.  The Middlesex Fells are a mere 10 minutes from campus and offer 2,500 acres of forest, hiking trails and peace.  It’s a city gem.  About a 45-minute drive from campus is Boston’s north shore, and Crane Beach is a stunning, wide sandy beach that I love.


It has been a while since I have organized the Admissions Team members to introduce themselves and we’ve had quite a few staff changes since then.  My co-blogger Christine drew up a list of questions that each of us has answered, and I’ll be sharing the responses she assembled for the rest of this week.  I’ll provide each staff member’s title (not that we’re particularly title driven around here), and a quick note on an area of specialty.  All of us work on everything, to some extent, but there are some areas where one of us is more involved than the others.  I’ll start with Dan, the one member of the team who is a Fletcher grad!  

Dan Birdsall, Associate Director of Admissions
Dan is the Office liaison to the LLM program.  2011 Fletcher MALD graduate.

Where did you grow up?  Home to luminaries including NBA journeyman Donyell Marshall, Super Bowl runner-up Kerry Collins, and Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, Reading, Pennsylvania has the highest share of citizens living in poverty in the U.S., according to the 2010 census.  That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great place to grow up, though.  One bite of a famous “split” from the Unique Pretzel Company will surely make you regret having been raised anywhere else.

What is your favorite place you have traveled to?  El Altar, Sangay National Park, Ecuador, so named because the spectacular scenery will make you find religion.

What is the number one spot on your travel wish list? Why not Alaska?

What is your favorite food?  I imagine I could eat Pad Thai nearly every day and not get sick of it.

What book are you currently reading?  Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power, by Steve Coll.  I’m very relieved to have been reading something “Fletchery” when answering these questions!

What is the number one place (Boston-area or on campus) you most hope Fletcher students will visit during their short time here?  Trusting my colleagues to recommend the other major must-sees in the area, I’m going with the Comedy Studio in Harvard Square, on the 3rd floor of the Hong Kong restaurant.  Avoid the (in)famous scorpion bowls of the 2nd floor bar at all costs, and head upstairs for a…let’s say “interesting” experience, at the very least.  Of the ten or so comedians you’ll catch on a given night, one or two are likely to be fairly polished professionals, with the rest a mix of amateurs, newbies, and (if you’re lucky) some experimental, avant-garde weirdos.  It beats an all-nighter in Ginn, at least!

Laurie Hurley, Director of Admissions
As the Admissions Director, Laurie has her hand in just about everything we do.  She’s a particular data hound, and crunches and re-crunches admissions numbers throughout the year.

Where did you grow up?  I grew up in Nashua, New Hampsire, but have spent most of my life living in Massachusetts.  While I love so many international destinations, I am a New Englander through and through.  I love Boston, spending weekends in Maine, and exploring the rest of New England.

What is your favorite place you have traveled to?  One of my favorite places in the world is the Tufts European Center in Talloires, France — located on the shores of Lake Annecy at the foot of the French Alps in the Haute-Savoie region of France (bordered by Italy and Switzerland).  Fletcher hosts an annual alumni symposium in Talloires in early June.

What is the number one spot on your travel wish list?  It changes every week, but right now the number one spot on my travel list is Iceland.  I hope to get there soon, as it is a quick trip from Boston.

What is your favorite food?  It is so hard to pick a favorite food because I love so many things.  At this writing I am craving Greek food from one of my favorite restaurants near Tufts — the Greek Corner.

What book are you currently reading?  I am currently reading Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence, a classic I somehow missed reading earlier in life.  At my daughter’s request, I am reading Divergent by Veronica Roth as well.

What is the number one place (Boston-area or on campus) you most hope Fletcher students will visit during their short time here?  Fletcher students must visit the North End in Boston before graduating.  The North End is one of Boston’s most historic neighborhoods and home to dozens of outstanding Italian restaurants.

More introductions coming tomorrow!


With apologies for taking so long to put this together, please meet the remaining three of our Admissions student interns, who work alongside Daniel, Emma, and Rebekah.

Ayako:  I am a second-year MALD student from Tokyo, Japan.  I’m a “career-changer” at Fletcher; my Fields of Studies are International Political Economy and Human Security.  I studied economics and music at Wellesley College for my undergraduate, and then worked for four years at Morgan Stanley’s equity research division covering Japanese financial institutions.  I spent the past summer in Lahore and Islamabad, Pakistan, working for Aghaaz Leadership Labs, an NGO based in Pakistan.  I interviewed entrepreneurs (with more focus on female entrepreneurs) to explore the opportunities and constraints that they face in Pakistan, in order to draft an analysis report.

Having only one more year at Fletcher, I’m trying to make the most out of the opportunity here — auditing classes, attending on and off-campus lectures and events, taking advantage of Boston’s finest art scene (Boston Symphony Orchestra, Museum of Fine Arts and many others!).  I’m excited to be working here to answer any questions or concerns that you may have!

Juanita:  Hi everyone!  I am a second-year MALD studying international business and international negotiation.  My interest in international business stems from my experience as a student strategy consultant for a Field Studies in Global Consulting course that I completed during my first year of study at Fletcher.  During this course, my teammates and I were able to gain real-world experience as we developed an international partnership engagement strategy for our client.  This experience not only allowed me to develop invaluable skills that I will surely use long after I leave Fletcher, but it also allowed me to refocus my coursework and internship experiences as I prepared for my second year, and my career after Fletcher.

While my future aspirations of working at the nexus of international business strategy and strategic partnerships differ from my pre-Fletcher experiences, the Fletcher School has served as an incubator by providing me with exposure to this industry through my classmates, courses, and career services.  I look forward to helping you all navigate the admissions process, and answering any questions that you may have about being a “career changer” at the Fletcher School!

Kiyomi:  Hello there!  I am a first-year MIB student focusing in Strategic Management and International Consultancy and am interested in understanding market-based approaches to social change.

Like many Fletcher students, its not so easy to say where I’m “from.”  I grew up in both LA and the Boston area then attended the University of Miami, where I received a degree in communications.  After college I worked in consumer banking and private wealth management in the Boston and the Bay areas before leaving corporate America behind to spend time in Latin America.

Immediately before Fletcher I was implementing micro-credit programs as a Kiva Fellow in Mexico and Colombia, and worked with a social start-up in Medellin developing social impact bond initiatives in Latin America.

Outside of my busy school schedule and time as an Admissions Intern, I am a member of the Fletcher Fútbol team and Fletcher Net Impact.  For fun I am always looking for more soccer games to play, trying to catch a Football game (Go Pats!), and of course hanging with my wonderful and amazing classmates.

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When you send us an email or call the Admissions Office, the person on the other end of your correspondence may very well be a current Fletcher student.  Our Student Interns are called on to do everything from endless photocopying to guiding visitors around the building.  We could never complete our work without them, but equally important is that we love getting to know them and having them around!  So that you’ll have a sense of the person who wrote the email you just received, the Student Interns will be introducing themselves through the blog.  First up are Daniel, Emma, and Rebekah, who between them give a good sense of the diversity of pre-Fletcher professional experience among our students.

Daniel:  I am a second-year MALD student focusing on International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and Human Security. My interests in conflict resolution include facilitated dialogue as part of problem-solving workshops, as well as conflict mediation.  Additionally I am interested in the role that the narratives of conflict in history curricula play in promoting reconciliation in post-conflict societies.  This interest stems from the eight years that I spent working in history education before coming to Fletcher.  I worked as a middle school history teacher, first with Teach for America in Brooklyn and subsequently at a private school in New Orleans.  Through the New Teacher Project, I also trained first-year history teachers to work in New Orleans schools.  I spent the past summer interning with Search for Common Ground in Zanzibar where (in addition to enjoying the beaches) I helped facilitate trainings for radio journalists, members of the Ministry of Good Governance and Zanzibari civil society.  During my time away from school I like to cook and explore the historical sites of Boston.

Emma:  Hello!  I am a first-year MALD student, born in Cleveland, Ohio, but I’ve called Portland, Oregon my home for the past several years.  I majored in Political Science at Reed College, where I focused on conflict studies and non-violent action.  Prior to Fletcher I worked for the regional government of Portland and its surrounding suburbs, building community support and consensus among various cities for large-scale transportation and economic development projects.  My concentrations here at Fletcher will be International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and International Security Studies.

There is a lot to do at Fletcher outside of the classroom, too!  I’m a staff editor for our foreign policy journal, The Fletcher Forum, as well as a volunteer for Tufts University Refugee Assistance Program (TU-RAP).  Living close to Davis Square, and just a few T stops from Cambridge and Boston, also means that I get to explore my new city, eat a ton of delicious and diverse food, and enjoy my nerdy love of U.S. history.  I look forward to hearing from you all soon, and hopefully welcoming you to the Fletcher community!

Rebekah:  Hi everyone!  I am a first-year MALD student, originally from San Luis Obispo, California, a small city located on California’s Central Coast.  I attended Occidental College in Los Angeles for my undergraduate studies, where I majored in Diplomacy and World Affairs.  While at Occidental, I had the opportunity to study for a semester at two universities in Santiago, Chile and also spent the fall semester of my senior year in New York City interning with the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations in the UN General Assembly.  After graduating, I moved to Washington, DC and spent two years working as an administrative and research assistant for an international trade consulting company, where I focused primarily on trade and investment issues in Latin America.

Here at Fletcher, my concentrations are Gender and Human Security (a self-designed field of study) and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.  In addition to working as a Student Intern in the Admissions Office, I am a member of the Fletcher Gender Initiative and Fletcher Runners.  I am so excited to be here at Fletcher, and I look forward to answering your questions as a Student Intern!

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Fletcher’s Ginn Library reference librarian, Ellen McDonald, and I share something in common: we both have had two Fletcher careers.  In Ellen’s case, both careers (separated by a long gap) were in the library.  I asked her to reflect on the amazing change to the library’s role in the sharing of information from her first career to her second.

Libraries are undergoing rapid change and Fletcher’s Ginn Library is no exception.  Thirty years ago, the central feature of the library’s Reference Room was eight sections of 72-drawer catalog cabinets.  Computers were tucked into a small room which contained four boxy terminals.  Students worked at the Reading Room tables or settled into individually assigned study carrels in the stacks.  The on-duty Reference Librarian could be found seated at a centrally located desk with a phone and small ready-reference book collection at hand.  The general rule of library etiquette was QUIET.

Today, Ginn Library looks and feels very different.  While quiet study space continues to be one of the library’s main attractions, Fletcher students today also require collaborative work space.  One of the major features of a Fletcher education is networking: sharing knowledge and the creation of lifetime bonds.  Changes in technology, research, teaching, and learning have created a very different context for the missions of academic libraries.  As scholarship has grown more interdisciplinary, so has the library’s space evolved to facilitate this transition.  Today, Ginn is filled with furniture and spaces that are easily adapted to changing research and study styles.  The lower stacks area is now a group study lounge, equipped with large screens and whiteboards.  The group project areas are abuzz with students interacting, teaching one another in peer-to-peer workshops and collaborating on group assignments.

Information abundance due to mass digitization means that librarians have more work guiding users to the right sources — scholarly content can get lost in the internet flood.  Increasingly, librarians serve as curators of information, determining what to collect, store and deliver…and what not to collect.  With information-on-demand and instant information gratification the rule of the day, googlized students are less likely to need the fact-checking skills of a Reference Librarian.  Increasingly, students and professors turn primarily to Ginn’s librarians for in-depths consultations about research papers, Capstone Projects, internships, dissertations and field work.  Many of these reference transactions have moved from a reference office and phone to an online chat or e-mail.  Some of our GMAP students prefer the technological synthesis of old and new interactions that Skype offers…a digital “face-to-face” meeting.

Ginn Reading RoomThe impact of digital technology pervades most every library function.  The library’s oak catalog disappeared twenty years ago and large portions of the collection have followed it into the virtual world.  The ability to digitally obtain material via interlibrary loans has exploded the physical limitations of the library’s collection.  Ginn has less need to store large runs of journals, as digital libraries and resource-sharing consortia proliferate.  But walk into the Reading Room, and you’ll be transported back in time to Fletcher’s beginnings when the photograph to the right was taken.  Some things will never change.  The walls here still contain the same treaty collections, state papers and legal treatises.  Portraits of former deans still line the walls.  The library as a physical place continues to be a hub of learning and a connection to our past and shared history.  Despite all that has changed over the decades in Ginn Library, visiting alumni will discover a library space that continues on as the heart of the Fletcher School — a place for connection, collaboration and contemplation.

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When we are not traveling for Admissions, we certainly take advantage of the summer to go on adventures of our own with family and friends.  Here is a glimpse of where we’re going!

Dan: We just returned from a visit to Ecuador.  I was a Peace Corps volunteer there years ago, so it was a homecoming of sorts for me, and an overdue introduction for my wife to the country in which I spent so much time.  We spent a few days with my host family in my old site, and also did a Galapagos tour.  Having virtually no natural predators in a protected environment, the animals there aren’t at all alarmed by people.  In fact, some of them are quite pushy; these publicity-hungry sea lions insisted on having their picture taken with me.

Dan and sea lion

Jessica: My summer has included a combination of one one-week vacation, several mini-vacations (two or three days), and a sprinkling of micro-vacations (12 hours).  One of the micro-vacations was to a place I had only heard of recently:  Cuttyhunk Island.  Hanging off the edge of Massachusetts, Cuttyhunk is one of the Elizabeth Islands, most of which are privately owned.  To reach Cuttyhunk, there’s a ferry from New Bedford that runs through the spring, summer, and fall, but it’s best to plan a visit for May/June or September, when some of the very few commercial enterprises are open but the crowds aren’t overwhelming.  Food options are very limited on the island, even in the summer, but they’re virtually non-existent in the winter.

We took bicycles over on the ferry, but I’m not sure I would make that choice again.  There aren’t many paved roads, and the island is small enough that you can cover a lot of the interesting territory on foot.  We took in the views, watched the seabirds, and enjoyed the scent of beach roses and honeysuckle.  We saw one deer, several rabbits, and many swans, including one sitting with her cygnets, making it clear that she didn’t want us to come any closer.  Chatting with the proprietor of the island’s fish market, I learned that there can be as few as ten people on the island in the winter, but hundreds in the summer when boaters like to dock there.  It was barely busy for our visit – enough visitors for the coffee place to open up, but few enough that we were able to be alone with the seagulls.  A lovely mini-vacation.


Liz: What I love about New England, and Boston in particular, is how you can do so much within just a few hours’ drive from the city.  I recently got to spend some time in Newport, RI for a wedding and had a great time in this quaint New England beach town.  Newport is less than two hours from Fletcher and truly has something for everyone.  There are lots of places to shop and some amazing restaurants.  I enjoy the Newport beaches, and you can tour some of the old Newport Mansions, many of which are on the famed Cliff Walk.  There is a local vineyard in nearby Middleton, where you can head for a wine tasting, and if you’re a tennis buff, you may want to check out the Tennis Hall of Fame.  I had an amazing time and think it’s a great town to check out for a day trip in New England!

Another one of my favorite places is Southern New Hampshire.  My parents live in the Monadnock region — which is just under two hours north of the city!  There are things to do and see in NH year round – skiing and snowboarding in the winter; hiking, boating, and camping in the summer.  New Hampshire has it all!  I try and get to NH most weekends throughout the summer and recently enjoyed a long weekend there.  I spent my time swimming, grilling yummy food, and reading on the shores of a lake.  Another favorite weekend activity is picking lots of fresh fruit, including strawberries.  My mom likes to make jam, and she had quite the haul this year (check it out below)!  NH has lots of farm stands and places where you can pick your own fruits and veggies.

These are just some of my favorite summer activities.  The Boston area is great because there really is something to do, no matter what you prefer!  Leave a comment below about some of your favorite weekend activities.

Liz's four photos

Laurie: I am in the process of planning a big vacation to either Hawaii or Costa Rica in December.  Therefore, my time off this summer will be low key.  I plan to spend a week at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire with my husband’s family.  We have been going there for years and I always look forward to going back.  Fletcher students who are lake people should definitely try to sneak in a weekend or day trip to Lake Winnipesaukee.

Kristen: Lots of local!  Beach in Connecticut, camping in New Hampshire, and fun Boston weekends.

Christine: I was lucky enough to have spent a whole week on Cape Cod in Orleans with my fiancé’s family.  We had absolutely perfect weather and spent our days relaxing on the beach, mini golfing (I unfortunately came in last), eating ice cream, and playing tons of games.  My fiancé and I ventured over to Nantucket for the day, which was absolutely wonderful! It is like a walk back in time on the cobblestone streets and adorable old houses now filled with (overpriced) gift shops and restaurants.

I have some local weekend trips coming up, but am saving up my excitement for my first trips to Colorado and the Bahamas this fall!

Christine's Cape photos

Katherine: This summer I’m hopping up and down the East Coast, with trips to New York, Delaware, Washington, DC, and Florida (and many states in between).  It’s nothing particularly exotic — especially compared with Fletcherites’ travels abroad — but I’m going to argue that you can’t beat quality time spent with good friends!  I’m looking forward to seeing a few of my favorite bands in concert, celebrating at some weddings, and catching up with my DC family.


Second only to a good book, summer is the perfect season to catch up on films you were too busy to see over the winter or to revisit those classics you have loved for years, and yes, of course, to see the newest, biggest, most explosive blockbuster that Hollywood can produce.  Almost as eclectic as our reading choices are Admissions staff viewing choices.  From the silver screen to the TV screen, we have everything covered!

Jessica: I LOVE going to the movies, but this has been a low movie summer for me.  Instead of describing one of my film choices, I’m going to describe my theater choice.  While on Cape Cod, we’ll go to the Wellfleet Drive-In, which is a gem of a place.  If you’re on the Cape in the summer, be sure to plan a visit.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter what movie they’re showing (and they lean toward big action pictures), because the theater itself provides more than enough entertainment.

Laurie: I have not been to the movies in months!  I know, I need to get out more!  However, I recently started the Lost TV series again, now that my daughter is old enough to watch it.  I loved it the first time and it’s equally entertaining the second time around.  Now that I know the ending, it is really cool to pick up on all of the foreshadowing. 

Katherine: Frances Ha was all right, and I want to re-watch Before Sunrise and Before Sunset before I see perhaps one of the most universally acclaimed recent films, Before Midnight.  But I haven’t had time.  Who has time to stay in and watch movies during the summer in Boston?

Kristen: Honestly, not a one so far, but I’m ending a several-year run of going through all of MI-5 and want to catch up on the last season of Mad Men.

Christine: I’ll admit it — I have a limited attention span when it comes to movies.  It has to be REALLY worth going to for me to sit through two hours in a cramped theatre. Luckily for me, the good folks at Showcase SuperLux solved this issue!  Only 30 minutes from Medford in Chestnut Hill is my dream viewing experience.  Leather recliners, a waiter, cold drinks, and free popcorn?  Oh yes.  So one less-than-perfect-weather Sunday, I ventured to Chestnut Hill to see the latest Hollywood goof movie — This Is The EndAnd it was hilarious!

I also plan on viewing the movie adaptations to Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone and cannot wait to see how well the film versions stack up the books.

Dan: As a fan of Guillermo del Toro, I dragged my wife to see Pacific Rim the other night (for which I will pay in the future by treating her to some screamy horrorfest, her favorite type of movie).  I think the New York Times’ characterization of it as “exuberant nonsense” is as appropriate a two-word review as I can imagine.


There is something about summer sun and books that just makes them go hand-in-hand.  This is a season full of beach weekends, relaxing trips to lakes and coasts, long stretches on airplane rides — all perfect reasons to dive into a good read.  So, you ask, what has the Admissions staff been reading this summer?  We have an eclectic collection of recommendations from mysteries to comedies, new and classic, described by the staff member who has chosen it.

Laurie: The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry.  This does not qualify as beach reading, but it’s really interesting.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in medicine and history.  I borrowed it from the Tufts library and will have it back soon for anyone who wants to read it.

Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – I have been meaning to read this one for a while and just picked it up at a used book store.  I only recently learned that this book was made into a movie.  I have enjoyed the book so far (I have about 25 pages left) and look forward to seeing the movie.

Kristen:  I have a fluvial theme going on: The Lower River by Paul Theroux (a Medford native) and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.  I also read The Art Forger by B.A. Shaprio, which was a great (and fun!) snapshot of a famous Boston museum (The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) and the infamous 1990 art heist.

Jessica:  For my final break of the summer, I have saved This is How You Lose Her, by Junot Díaz.  I wish I had had the foresight to attend Díaz’s lecture at Tufts a few years back, because his recent public talks around town have been packed.  I’ve read excerpts of the book already, and I’m looking forward to reading the whole thing.

Christine: At the suggestion of Dan, I have become completely hooked on all works by Boston author Dennis Lehane.  I started with arguably his most famous work, Mystic River, and couldn’t get enough of his writing style.  He really sheds light on some of the darker aspects of this city, and while his books are fiction, it does leave you wondering, “Could this have happened?” I am on my sixth Lehane work of the summer and fifth in the “series” featuring Detectives Kenzie and Gennaro.  I would highly recommend him to anyone who likes mystery, suspense, and murder all set along the charming backdrop of the city I call home.

Dan: I recently finished George Crile’s Charlie Wilson’s War, recommended by one of my Fletcher professors years ago, but which I only recently managed to pick up.  It’s an impressive (and pretty unnerving) look at the astonishing amount of power that can be wielded by an individual who knows how to leverage the networks of influence and patronage in the U.S. government.

Katherine: Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough has kept me up late at night this summer.  Tough tells the story of the first years of Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone.  Woven in are both heartbreaking and uplifting personal stories about the families of Harlem, along with an accessible broader look at education policy and research in the United States.  It’s a must-read for anyone who cares about the education system, poverty, and comprehensive, innovative strategies that attempt to address both.

I also just picked up Olive Kitteridge at the Goodwill in Davis Squqare (my favorite place to buy amazing $2 books!).  I’m not that far in, but I have high hopes: author Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel in 2008.

For a reading list that reflects the preferences of a broad spectrum of Tufts University faculty, staff, and students, check this page on the Tufts website.


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