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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

Senior Profile: Jonathan Bird

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5/12/2014 – Medford/Somerville, MA, 02155 – Tufts senior, Jon Bird poses for a portrait in the Mayer Campus Center on May 10th, 2014 . (Nicholas Pfosi / The Tufts Daily)

Students may recognize Jon Bird as the chair of Tufts University Programming Board, the best male model winner at the LUX fashion show, the guy who frequently wears the Jumbo mascot suit and, of course, the person who smiles at everyone he passes. Active in the Tufts community and chock full of enthusiasm, Bird is truly the embodiment of school spirit.

This is a legacy Bird began cultivating before he arrived at Tufts. At his high school, in the small town of Merrimac, Mass., Bird was the student who participated in everything. He was on sports teams, he was a peer adviser, he appeared in musicals, he went to nearly every game and pep rally - and he always cheered the loudest.

"I was used to knowing everyone on campus and being known by everyone," Bird said. "I was a big fish in a very small pond, but when I came to Tufts it was different."

The transition to college was difficult for Bird, who said he did not have a positive housing situation or a lot of friends his freshman year. He longed for the life he had at his small high school.

"I started going back home for soccer games or to watch my sister play volleyball," he said. "At first, it would only be for an afternoon, but then I started staying over at my house. It turned into a situation where I would be home five nights a week, and my mom would be driving me to school every day. I was basically a commuter student."

In the spring semester of his freshman year, Bird considered transferring. He began touring other New England schools, looking for a place that would suit him better than Tufts.

"At every school I toured, I kept thinking about all of the different clubs and activities I'd like to be involved in on campus - but they had all of those things at Tufts, too," Bird said.

Looking back, Bird said he realized that it wasn't Tufts, but college itself that was the problem.

"I was very different from who I am now - it just wasn't me," he said. "I got to Tufts, and I wasn't ready for college, and I just shut down."

Things started to change for Bird at the very end of his freshman year, when he was randomly assigned to work on a Spanish project with a student who would later become his best friend.

"She asked me where I was living next year," Bird said. "I told her Waterville, Maine. She was like, 'Waterville, Maine - what?' ... I explained to her that I was transferring to Colby College. I told her about all the difficulties I was having here and how I wanted to start over. She was very sympathetic, and she said that I should hang out with her and her friends at the Tuftstonia's Day carnival ... I had a great time, and they're some of my best friends now."

Bird ultimately decided not to transfer.

"I got involved in Programming Board and Spirit Coalition, ... and started loving it at Tufts," he said.

Now, Bird is practically entrenched in the Tufts community - along with his involvement in the LUX fashion show, he has also participated in Tufts Burlesque, was co-chairman of the Tufts Spirit Coalition in 2013 and has worked hard to organize important programming for the Tufts student body.

Bird is majoring in sociology and minoring in communications and media studies, but as for his post-graduation plans, Bird said he still hasn't found a definitive career path.

"As of right now, I'm looking at careers in advertising and marketing in the Boston area," he said.

Whatever he decides, Bird's experience at Tufts has taught him at least one important thing about the future.

"You never know when your life is going to change - that person you're randomly assigned to work with in Spanish class might just end up being your best friend," Bird said. "Never give up. ... You have to work for happiness. It won't find you. You have to find it for yourself."