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Four Years, Infinite Possibilities

Four Years, Infinite PossibilitiesThe evolution of a Tufts undergraduate.
Fall 2009: The Road to the End

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [10.27.09] Senior year-as a freshman, it can seem light years away. But for members of the Class of 2010, the reality is beginning to sink in.

For the past three years, five of those students have allowed us to share in the adventure of their undergraduate experience. As they begin the final chapter of their college career, they look back on their junior year and their expectations for what is yet to come. Four of the five decided to join in the junior year tradition of studying abroad, and option which 40 percent to 45 percent of Tufts students choose to participate in, while the other stuck to achieve leadership goals on the Hill. 

Jane Song
Mukilteo, Wash.
Major: International Relations and East Asian Studies

When Jane Song decided to participate in the Tufts-in-China program in the fall of her junior year, her objectives were clear.

js_sichuan__400"I wanted to acquire a good understanding of China, with the goals of becoming proficient in Chinese, understanding what 'Chineseness' means and figuring out how this 'Chineseness' evolved to what is now contemporary China," she explains.

Tufts program at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, took Song through an intensive study of Mandarin.

Traveling around the country to Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Chengdu and more, Song says the semester in China gave her more insight into the "Chinese way of life" than any of her previous visits to the country.

"I came back to the U.S. at the end of the semester with a feeling that I was better able to look at China without the foreign bias I had accumulated in my American studies," she says.

Song wanted to expand her interest in international education while learning more about the nonprofit sector, so to prepare for her final year at Tufts she decided to spend her summer interning for WorldTeach. Located in Cambridge, Mass., the international NGO js_zheda_047_400sends hundreds of volunteers each year to teach in developing countries all around the world.

For Song, the WorldTeach internship helped solidify some of her plans.

"It reaffirmed my desire to work in international education sometime in the future," she says. "Education, especially international education and women's education, is something I am very passionate about, and being involved in it is definitely part of my long-term goal for the future."

Learn more about Song and her Tufts experience by reading about her experiences as a Tufts freshman and sophomore.

Andrew Mulherkar
Seattle, Wash.
Major: International Relations
Dual-degree candidate, New England Conservatory

For a musician, landing a first gig can be unforgettable. Add an international venue to the mix, and it can't get much better. am_2_400

Studying in Argentina, Andrew Mulherkar found himself performing a duet in the apartment of a pianist and aspiring film-scorer and playing to crowds in a weekly jam session that lasted until the wee hours of the morning.

Mulherkar, who lived with a host family, says one of the more special moments of his trip was am_3_400experiencing Easter in a different culture.

"We had homemade locro [corn and bean stew], platefuls of empanadas and three types of cake, followed by one of the guys there singing Argentinean folk songs to end the afternoon," Mulherkar says. 

Unlike his fellow undergraduates' studies, Mulherkar's dual-degree program extends into a fifth year. He is hoping this year he can home his "traveler's sense of openness and optimism."

"I hope to use my experiences and those of my friends, in combination with my international relations major, to enhance my understanding of today's world."

Learn more about Mulherkar by reading about his experiences as a Tufts freshman and sophomore

Shea Sullivan
Los Angeles, Calif.
Major: Music

Shea Sullivan's junior year encompassed the best of both worlds: Tufts in the fall and the Chicago-based Institute for European Studies program in Vienna in the spring.ss_1_400

While taking on a full load of classes on the Hill, Sullivan was excited to have experienced what she says is her "favorite class taken at Tufts so far"-Professor Lee Edelman's "Hitchcock: Cinema, Gender and Ideology."

"The ideas he suggested in class have changed the way I view and consider the motives and reason behind all types of creative work," Sullivan says.

Travelling to Austria in the spring brought a refreshingly different experience.

"Everything was new and it was very much like having a new start-similar to what I experienced as a freshman at Tufts," she says. "The school I went to was in an old palace; I shared an apartment that had elaborate wooden carving and a chandelier. This experience was like no other."

For Sullivan, part of the appeal of the Vienna program was its music curriculum, which allowed her to work with world-renowned teachers and put on a series of concerts. ss_2_400

"This was probably the most challenging part, because I was among performance majors who ate and slept in the practice rooms in hopes that one day they could be considered professional musicians," she says.

Sullivan, who plans to apply to medical school, returned to Los Angeles for a summer internship with Children's Hospital. With more than enough credits under her belt, Sullivan was able to take the fall semester off to continue her research, which examines liver cells in culture and the effect of the application of recombinant growth factor FGf10.

Learn more about Sullivan by reading about her experiences as a Tufts freshman and sophomore.

Brittany Cahoon
Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Major: Economics

For Brittany Cahoon, junior year was spent focusing on sisterhood and leadership on the Hill.bc_1_400

As an orientation leader last fall, Cahoon says she was happy to share in the beginning of the Tufts experience with the freshman class.

This spring, with the support of her sisters, Cahoon was elected president of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority.

Over the summer, Cahoon, along with three of her sorority members, went to AOII's Convention in Tampa, Fla., where, for the second time in a row, the Tufts chapter was awarded the McCausland Cup.

"This award goes to the AOII chapter whose overall academic development is determined to be the most superior," Cahoon says. "It was such an honor to receive this award on my chapter's behalf."bc_3_400

Cahoon, how in her second semester as AOII president, says the group has been focusing on philanthropic work. This includes volunteering at an elementary school and pursuing opportunities with the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, supporting the national AOII philanthropic cause of juvenile arthritis. 

Cahoon says she feels "bittersweet" as she heads into her senior year.

"Tufts has definitely left a mark on me and this year," she says, "I hope to leave a mark on Tufts!"

Learn more about Cahoon by reading about her experiences as a Tufts freshman and sophomore.

Edna Gonzalez
Las Vegas, Nev.
Major: American Studies

Though Edna Gonzalez spent her junior year more than 3,000 miles east of Tufts' Medford/Somerville campus, she says her time in the Tufts-in-London program made the world seem smaller.

"I realized there are people all over the world at this moment perhaps doing something similar to us and we are all at one point interconnected," she says.

Gonzalez says being in a foreign country renewed her pride in being an American. Seeing the international reaction to President Barack Obama's election victory was especially profound.

"A few fellow Tufts students and I went to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum on Inauguration day to take a picture with theeg_tea wax statue of Obama that was being revealed," Gonzalez says. "I cannot put into words how great the media attention was on an international level."

Gonzalez also was able to immerse herself in Tufts' rich network abroad through the Tufts-in-London Alumni Association, helping facilitate a conference to discuss what the first 100 days of Obama's presidency would be like.

Returning to Tufts for the summer, Gonzalez split her time between taking summer courses and training to be a Latino Peer Leader for the freshman class through the Latino Center. This year, she is also stepping into the role of vice president for the Association of Latin American Students.

"I hope to enjoy and take full advantage of my last two semesters at Tufts," she says. "I never thought I would be saying that. Time has flown by."

Learn more about Gonzalez by reading about her experiences as a Tufts freshman and sophomore.

Note: Pacific Tuyishime was unavailable for comment.

Story by Kaitlin Provencher, Web Communications.


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