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Class Of 2008 Steps Up

Class Of 2008 Steps UpFrom world travelers to National Merit Scholars to varsity baseball players, a talented incoming class prepares to enter Tufts this fall. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [06.30.04] Eva Birk is not a typical high school senior. The Maine native, who will graduate with high honors this month from Medomak Valley High School, is heading to Tufts this fall with more than her share of life experience.

After three years of studying, playing basketball and participating in more than her share of school clubs, Birk decided to do something different during her final year of high school. "Senior year I was done doing the marathon," she told the Rockland Village Soup of her routine. "I decided I was going somewhere."

And somewhere she went. With her parents' blessings - and three years of hard work behind her - Birk saved up her money and traveled through France during the month of November.

"I was on my own most of the time," Birk told the Village Soup. "I speak a little French, which enabled me to get people's views."

This experience will undoubtedly help Birk - who plans to major in international relations and environmental studies at Tufts - to make the most of her college experience.

"I had a meeting with the environmental studies director [George Ellmore] at Tufts," Birk - a devoted Red Sox fan - told the newspaper. "He took me to the library roof and you could see the Fenway Coke bottle and I said, ‘This is the place for me.'"

Birk won't be the only student with unique experiences in her class - made up of students from 45 U.S. states and territories and around the globe.

One of her peers, Amanda Patrick - valedictorian at Overton High School in Nashville - will begin a five-year combined-degree program at Tufts and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts.

"I hope to pursue a career in education," Patrick told The Commercial Appeal. "I enjoy many other media including drawing, painting, sculpture and pottery."

Patrick was recently awarded the prestigious National Certificate of Merit for her entry in the Imation Corp. Computer Arts contest. Only 25 of more than 600 entries were awarded the computer arts honor, which Patrick won with her collection of digitally altered photographs.

Leah Nichelle Averitt - salutatorian at Southport High School in Indianapolis - was drawn to Tufts for its location and international strengths.

"I wanted a liberal arts school on the East Coast or the South," Averitt - who plans to major in international relations and someday work for the United Nations - told The Indianapolis Star. "Tufts had a lot of options plus opportunities to study abroad, which I want to do."

Robert Gallagher, valedictorian at Rhode Island's Tiverton High School, plans to major in electrical engineering.

Gallagher - who managed to play varsity baseball and basketball, work part-time as a waiter, and achieve a 1460 on his SATs - looked at several other competitive East Coast colleges.

He chose Tufts because "it had the best atmosphere," reported the Providence Journal.

Seventy-five percent of new Tufts students rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class, with a mean SAT score of 1380.

"This is a great class," said Lee Coffin, Tufts dean of admissions. "I'm thrilled to welcome them to the University."

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