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A True Homecoming

A True HomecomingTufts graduates John Koeppel and Susan Rothstein, who met on campus 33 years ago, bring a unique perspective to Parents Weekend when they visit their daughter this year.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [10.14.05] When John Koeppel and Susan Rothstein arrive on campus this Parents Weekend, they'll fight the urge to subject their youngest child to what Rothstein calls "the nostalgia tour." Instead, they'll embrace Tufts as it is today, a highly evolved version of the university they attended during the early 70s.

Despite all of the changes to the New England campus they once called home, Koeppel and Rothstein say Tufts still feels strangely familiar to them. With a son and daughter who both followed in their footsteps by pursuing an education on the Hill, the California couple, who first met in the Fletcher dining hall, have had an opportunity in recent years to revisit their Massachusetts roots.

Tuftsgate,29170"It's odd in a way. It's both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time due to all the changes," explains Rothestein, a 1971 graduate, who, along with her husband, has not missed a Parents Weekend since her son, Adam, began his freshman year in 2001.

"No doubt our connection [to Tufts] has gotten stronger," declares Koeppel, a 1970 graduate of The Fletcher School, who currently practices law in San Francisco.

On the West coast, Rothstein and Koeppel are connected with the San Francisco Tufts Alliance and attend as many events as they can. Rothstein, co-founder of a publishing startup, also volunteers for the Parents Committee and helps with annual fundraising.

"Our children have definitely brought us back to the Hill," Rothstein reflects.

This weekend, that is literally true because she and Koeppel will be on the Medford/Somerville campus to visit their daughter, Leah, a sophomore international relations and community health major who is a scholar with the University College of Citizenship and Public Service.

Leah Koeppel, with no pressure from her parents, made up her own mind that she wanted to attend Tufts.

"We knew it was important for each of them to make their own choice," Rothstein says about her children. Leah loved Tufts and wanted to apply for admission through the Early Decision Program, she says.

Wanting their daughter to explore all of her options before making any hasty decisions, Koeppel and Rothstein encouraged her to visit other colleges. Afterwards, if she could still offer solid reasons for why Tufts was the right choice for her, they would let her apply early.

"She ended up with a very thoughtful rationale for applying early to Tufts and, fortunately, she was accepted," Rothstein says.

By the time Leah was ready to look at colleges, Koeppel and Rothstein were old pros at guiding their children through the school selection process. They had taken the same, no pressure approach with Adam three years earlier.

"We encouraged him to apply to a wide range of schools," Rothstein says. "He narrowed his final decision to Tufts [and] Johns Hopkins, but after he spent a day in Boston and a day in Baltimore, he said it was no contest. Tufts won, hands-down. We tried to take a back seat in the decision making, but at the same time we were thrilled when they each finally chose Tufts."

Rothstein and Koeppel were pleased with their children's decisions not just because of their own history on the Hill, but because they were confident that Tufts would provide their children with "a first rate education, with fabulous access to professors and opportunities for solid research," according to Koeppel.

"That's a great package for the students and a rewarding one for the parents who are paying the freight," he adds.

For Adam, Rothstein explains, Tufts enabled him to pursue his interests, travel abroad and still graduate on time.

"Tufts offered the perfect opportunity to explore his two passions: engineering and political science," she says. "It [is] also one of the few schools that worked with [engineering students] who wanted to spend a year abroad and still graduate in four years."

Rothstein pointed out another benefit of her son's connection to Tufts: he found his current job at Navigant Consulting in Washington, D.C., through the Tufts' Career Services Office.

Leah, with her interest in active citizenship, nutrition and study abroad, has found her niche at Tufts, as well.

"Tufts offers so many strong programs in her areas of interest: the University College of Citizenship... programs abroad in Spanish-speaking countries, Summer Scholars, to name a few," Rothstein says. "Plus, she's very committed to crew and loves the proximity to Cambridge and Boston."

Koeppel and Rothstein will watch Leah, a varsity crew member, compete this weekend. And they are looking forward to discovering how Tufts has changed in the short time since their last visit.

"We get to see what's new on campus. We know some of the new and interesting courses being offered," says Koeppel.

But Tufts has evolved over the long-term, too, he points out.

"The courses offered appear more sophisticated and diverse, a strong faculty has gotten stronger, as has the administration, and the financial foundation has been strengthened," according to Koeppel. "That's impressive."

Rothstein notes some physical changes to the campus over the decades, as well, remembering that there was no state-of-the-art athletic center at Tufts during her era and the closest thing to a student center was "Cursall," where she spent many hours hanging out with friends and studying for exams.

No doubt, when Rothstein and Koeppel return to campus this weekend, memories like that will flood back, but they'll resist the urge to barrage Leah with stories from the past. Instead, they'll welcome her tales of life at Tufts today and hope she takes advantage of all the university has to offer.

"Mostly I'm just so happy to see [my children] thrive here and make Tufts their own," Rothstein says.



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