As Thanksgiving approaches on an annual basis, I naturally tend to find myself reflecting on everything I have to be grateful for. Last year, during my pandemic-laden freshman experience, I spent my first college Thanksgiving away from home. Although I was with friends I had met just a few weeks before, we shared a sense of home among each other. From making cranberry sauce in a noodle pot to baking a pie in the Carmichael Hall kitchen and commiserating over the sad state of the university-issued turkey, we made the best out of a less-than-ideal situation.
Growing up as a twin, often the first question my brother, Matt, and I would be asked is, “Are you fraternal or identical?” Logically, as biologically boy-girl twins, the answer is fraternal. Nonetheless, as we matured, we learned to answer this question with more understanding, recognizing that not everyone could relate to the experience of being born just six minutes apart.
A few days ago, I awoke to a crisp Medford fall morning and heard a rumble from the corner of my dorm room; there’s nothing quite like the annual activation of the heating system to bombard you with thoughts of the upcoming winter. As a native Floridian with only one New England winter under my belt, the anticipation of the coming season is daunting. Even with a closet shoved full of sweaters, jackets, hats, scarves and boots, I know that the changing seasons will inevitably bring a lack of sunshine, more time spent indoors and bone-chilling walks up and down the hill. Although we didn’t have to spend this Halloween with snowfall, as we did last semester, impending below-freezing days loom in our near future.
When coming to Tufts, I never envisioned life as a student-athlete. I spent my first year here on the treadmill masked in the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center, and I never imagined myself sporting team-labeled apparel. Yet, earlier this semester, after seeing an advertisement for walk-on women’s rowing tryouts, I decided to step completely out of my comfort zone and show up in pursuit of a position as a coxswain.
Today was my first day back in in-person classes. After grabbing a mid-morning iced coffee at The Sink, I sat down in a big, comfortable blue armchair in the Mayer Campus Center. As I bent back the pages of Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence” (1920), I was transported to 19th-century New York City. Despite my fascination with her commentary on the complex inner workings of the city’s upper echelon, I couldn’t help but notice a tour group out of the corner of my eye. The spirited guide took a big step up onto a bench, and I had a moment of realization: I really am a Tufts student.
In a world with hurricanes of Herculean force, pandemics that have jolted the globe and politics arguably more divisive than ever before, we as global citizens are forced to tackle life in our own unique way. Along each of our individual journeys we are accompanied by vastly different sets of environmental factors creating a society that lights up each of our senses, with no two people absorbing sights, sounds and smells in exactly the same way. When facing the respective adversities that life sends us, it is quite simple to get lost in the big picture, stuck in the clouds. Yet, what if we were to take just a moment to get lost in the minutia, immersed in the details that create the diversity that colors our landscape’s vibrant hues?
In order to bolster full support and ensure the highest levels of success, contributions must be made to the students’ personal and academic lives. Informing and educating immigrant families will help foster a sense of confidence in students and could help cultivate feelings of belonging. In addition, rather than forcing cultural assimilation in schools through a lack of diverse thought and perspectives presented in the classroom, educators and curricula writers must work to ensure that there are an array of learning opportunities available for students of all backgrounds.
The cost of these examinations is not the only barrier to higher education for minority students; the structure of the test also poses difficulties. The current SAT may appear vastly different, yet it remains inherently the same as the original test that was invented almost 80 years ago as an adaptation of the IQ test. The first rendition of this examination was overtly racist in practice, and sought to bolster a discriminatory college admissions system that aimed to keep minority students out of prestigious institutions through carefully worded questions and unfair structure.
Although many of the effects of overcrowding in schools are not currently visible due to virtual modalities, over enrollment in American public schools is a pressing problem that has been facing our nation for several decades. Teacher shortages, in addition to lack of funding for education, are a few of the driving forces for overfilled public schools.