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Home Field Advantage

Home Field AdvantageAs members of the Class of 2013 prepare to make their mark, students from Tufts' host communities reflect on what it means to go to college in their hometown.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [08.26.09] For many New Englanders, the start of fall isn't official until the leaves change color. For Rebecca Wood-Spagnoli, however, it's all about the change in license plates.

"In the past I have been able to count license plates for at least 30 different states in one 15-minute drive," she says describing the scene as students return to campus.

Growing up outside of Somerville's Teele Square, just a half mile from the Medford/Somerville campus, Wood-Spagnoli says she has always felt a strong connection to Tufts, and very soon that connection will grow even closer as she joins the class of 2013.

Tufts will welcome students and families from all over the world at its annual matriculation ceremony on Sept. 2, but some students -- like Wood-Spagnoli -- have spent their lifetime within walking distance from their futures.

So what is it like going to college in one's hometown? These three students are looking forward to finding out.

Small Move, Big Change

Since her childhood, Wood-Spagnoli has been a frequent visitor to Tufts, attending the Tufts Educational Daycare as a preschooler and spending many summers on campus for the Creative Arts/Jackson Troupe arts camp.

 

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"I've known since I was five that I was going to go to Tufts," says the Somerville High School graduate. "When I came for campus visits, I felt that the people here wanted me here, which is something I didn't feel at other schools. No one I met on visits to Tufts knew me or my SAT scores, but they genuinely made me feel wanted."

Wood-Spagnoli says she loves that Tufts has so much to offer in the realm of academics, community service and extracurricular activities. "I am really interested in Tufts' international relations department and the cognitive science program, but I want to keep my options open," she says.

Wood-Spagnoli is not the first in her family to grace the Medford/Somerville campus-she will be following in the footsteps of her father Carl, a graduate of the class of 1982.

 

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With home so close by, she says it will be convenient having the extra closet space. "I will probably make frequent trips home to swap out clothes so I can save space in my dorm," she says.

While she is moving just down the street, Wood-Spagnoli jokes that she will technically no longer reside on her home turf.

"Technically my dorm is in Medford, so I will be moving out of my hometown," Wood-Spagnoli says with a laugh. "It's a small move, big change."

"I'm Going to Go to This College"

Living in Medford, JonFranco Barretto says that driving past the Tufts campus was almost inevitable whenever his family left the house.

"We would be in the car, and I was pretty young and didn't totally understand, but I would always tell my parents, 'I'm going to go to this college,' because I didn't want to be far from my family," he says. "How little did I know [that] Tufts was exactly where I would end up."

 

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Graduating from Minuteman Career and Technical High School in Lexington, Mass., Barretto, the first generation of his family to go to college, set the bar high as valedictorian of his class.

Specializing in biotechnology, Barretto is very enthusiastic about what the biology department in the School of Arts and Sciences has to offer, especially after having a long conversation with Associate Professor Juliet Fuhrman, the chair of the department, during one of his visits. He is especially interested in the work being done on tissue regeneration.

Outside of academics, Barretto says he is also interested in athletics-particularly tennis, which he started playing during his junior year.

"In my first year of playing I ended up winning a doubles championship, which was the first time the team had won in 24 years," he says. "I just sort of picked up the sport and loved it, and now I am a tennis instructor."

With plans to eventually attend medical school, Barretto says the fact that Tufts has a strong medical school is the icing on the cake.

 

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"Everything about Tufts just fits me," he says. "There is just so much I want to be a part of."

Barretto feels that being on campus yet so close to home will give him the chance to grow up and be on his own while having the comfort of familiar setting.

"I feel like I am on my own home territory, which I think will relieve some stress and help toward my success."

A World of Its Own

Growing up, Medford's Alexis Donnaruma says she thought it was cool that she lived in a college town, but she hadn't thought about the possibility of attending Tufts until she began thinking about careers.

"When I decided I wanted to work toward being a pediatrician, I began looking at Tufts, because they have a great pre-med program and of course a great medical school," she says. "I am really looking forward to getting involved with the community health program."

 

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Living near Medford Square, Donnaruma has been active in her community, from participating in Medford's annual Polar Express fundraiser at Christmastime to throwing a "senior" prom at a local nursing home.

During her senior year at Medford High School, Donnaruma was the "Voice of Medford High," reading the daily announcements over the loudspeaker.

Donnaruma believes there are many positives to going to college in your hometown, like having an intimate knowledge of the local area, but she feels campus life will still be a big change.

 

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"When people ask me why I want to go to school in the city I grew up in, I think, yes, the school is in Medford, but the campus is a whole world of its own," she says. "I am going to be with new people and the environment at Tufts is going to be a lot different than a high school environment, so I still find it cool."

By Kaitlin Provencher, Web Communications.
Photography by Joanie Tobin, University Photography.

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