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Inaugural My Tufts Story Video Contest

Tufts University strives to foster a learning environment for students to personalize their education around their passions and interests throughout their time at the University. The Office of the Provost recognizes students’ broad range of paths and integrated learning experiences, and would like to highlight how students have shaped their Tufts experience around their interests and passions.

Our office is pleased to recognize the winners and participants from the inaugural My Tufts Story video contest. We received numerous submissions that represented all of Tufts schools. Two grand prize winners were awarded in addition to a top video in each school, awards for artistry and editing, and several honorable mentions. These videos represent the interdisciplinary and multi-faceted nature of a Tufts education. Our office thanks everyone who took the time to submit a video, and we are excited to share these submissions with the rest of the Tufts community.

We would also like to recognize the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine for receiving the largest number of entries per total enrolled students!

$1,000 Grand Prize Winner: General Category

Emai Lai, Undergraduate School of Engineering

Video Link: https://youtu.be/HnAW2h7TFVw

Reflection Paragraph:

My Tufts story is a story of making. Through my academics and extracurriculars, I’ve had experiences learning and making everything from websites and short films, to music compositions and computer programs. I chose Tufts for its interdisciplinary academics, and I’ve been happy to collaborate on research and projects both in the engineering school and through the Film and Media Studies program. My video highlights clips of me making things, from 3D computer animations at the SMFA, to semester-long short films created under the guidance of my film professors. I’ve loved collaborating on hands-on projects, and I’m continuously impressed by the creativity and talent of my classmates both in and out of the classroom. In the end, I think the most important things I’m making here at Tufts are the meaningful memories, connections with professors, and lifelong friends. This video is a thank you letter to Tufts — for helping me make my own story.

$1,000 Grand Prize Winner: COVID-19 Pandemic Category

Krishan Guzzo and Megha Tandon, Undergradute School of Arts & Sciences

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT5-zi69KBI&feature=youtu.be

Reflection Paragraph:

Megha and I have both wanted to be doctors for as long as we can remember. We’ve always been interested in helping others in a healthcare capacity, specifically from a community health perspective. Community health’s combination of investigative research, global impact, direct patient contact, and medicine is what convinced us both to pursue a CH major. During our first year at Tufts, Megha took general biology courses, while I took general chemistry courses, to get started on the pre-med track. However, we still sought for a way to practice community health from a perspective of more than just medicine. That’s what brought us to Community Cooks, a program through Project SHARE, where volunteers cook meals for homeless shelters in the community. We enjoyed using our love for cooking to impact the greater good and were disappointed when we could no longer do so due to COVID-19. Despite this, we still searched for ways to use our talents to do something useful. After long FaceTime brainstorming sessions, we settled on the idea that the particular group we wanted to help was healthcare workers. But, due to the limitations of social distancing, we couldn’t feed their stomachs… so, we thought, we could feed their minds! With my web design experience and Megha’s research expertise, we were able to purchase a domain, build a resource full website, and contact HR reps at various hospitals in big cities inviting them to use our site, all in the span of about two weeks. We sincerely hope this resource will prove helpful to the millions of heroic healthcare workers around the world fighting for our safety, not only for this current pandemic, but also for years to come. As quoted on our website, our primary goal is to ensure that healthcare worker’s “minds stay clear, and hearts stay happy”.

Artistry & Editing Winner: General Category

Ali Sasani, School of Medicine

Video Link: https://tufts.box.com/s/mvye19cm64bvvby90rfyuow6cfj7wy94

Reflection Paragraph:

As an undergraduate I studied human biology with the intention of attending medical school. However, after graduating I still felt that there was more to learn about the medical field before fully committing myself to a career in medicine. I worked for three years in a pediatric hospital as a medical scribe to learn more about what to expect from a career in medicine. As a result of the great mentorship I received, I decided to start my own medical scribe business to help other students connect with mentors in my community.

Eventually, I applied to the MBS program at Tufts to strengthen my academic credentials before applying to medical school. The community at Tufts not only helped me integrate into a new city, but also taught me how to take full advantage of the incredible opportunities available in Boston. The medical students advised me through my MBS classes and introduced me to research opportunities they found fulfilling during their MBS research year. Because of their guidance, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s best pediatric anesthesiologists and researchers at Boston Children's. This has helped inform my view of different career paths in medicine and has influenced me to seek a career that combines both clinical practice and research.

Furthermore, my faculty mentors at Tufts have encouraged me to continue my passions outside of the classroom. This year I have worked as a route setter at Central Rock Gym and continue to train hard to improve my climbing. This has been a great way for me to push through my perceived physical and mental limits in the gym and outdoors. This outlet has also helped me realize that I can truly do anything I set my mind to as long as I am willing to put in the work. Most importantly, I have learned that while the end goal is something to strive for, finding ways to enjoy the journey will make arriving at the destination that much sweeter.

Artistry & Editing Winners: COVID-19 Category

Daniel Bekai, Undergraduate School of Engineering

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQSrtYH9maM

Reflection Paragraph:

I decided to make this video upbeat as a form of therapy for myself and my friends. As an undergraduate senior, social distancing has led to a lot of disappointments. I suddenly had to say goodbye to a lot of my friends who I may never see again, miss out on once in a lifetime opportunities like commencement, and shelter in place in order to protect the community I care about. I am still privileged as I have enough savings to get me though the semester, and I am ever so grateful my summer internship didn’t get cancelled. My heart goes out to all my friends that aren’t so lucky, and I stand in solidarity with them. It’s easy to let the situation get to us, I believe everyone has experienced cabin fever to some degree during this lockdown. In the process of making this video, I recalled many fond memories that put a smile on my face. In these trying times, I hope I can put a smile on your face as well.

Alyssa Rose, Undergraduate School of Engineering

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XOA2rsKHU4&feature=youtu.be

Reflection Paragraph:

This video shares the tale of how COVID-19 has impacted so many realms of life, including prematurely ending my time in D.C. which allowed me to move in with my partner and see some of my friends before they spread back out across the globe. My bestfriend and his partner appeared in this video as a visual representation of some of this impact (as they had to wear homemade masks made from bandanas for safety) while still showcasing that students and their willingness to band together in these trying times is a perfect representation of Tufts’ culture and community from my perspective. Though many have faced hardship, the video hopes to showcase that regardless of the situation, we can support each other throughout it and make the most out of our new reality by remembering to stay goofy and optimistic.

School Winners

Tara Aboumahboub and Nehal Shah, School of Dental Medicine

Video Link: https://tufts.box.com/s/n8nloued1fbsdrka2xec828cgu7rjbia

Reflection Paragraph:

Nehal Shah and I created this piece together to show the impact one community can have on your future. Tufts Dental wasn't just an academic advancement for us; it was the chance to welcome opportunity and collaboration to achieve greatness. Although we come from different backgrounds, we both share the same passion in our field and it is what has brought us the inspiration we have to become better professionals, leaders, and members to our community. We are proud to be a piece of the Jumbo Family and we strive to leave our legacy in each chapter of our lives. This video is only a small fraction of what we have planned for our future.

Hannah Cai, Friedman School of Nutrition

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgRrn26y2JU

Reflection Paragraph:

I was drawn to Tufts’ Combined MS/DI program because it combines two key areas of nutrition that I hope to grow in as I pursue a career in child nutrition. The Friedman School’s strong agriculture and policy classes and Tufts Medical Center’s lengthy pediatric rotation have and will continue to prepare me to work as a dietitian addressing health disparities through integrative public health platforms. Training in Boston’s Chinatown continues to strengthen my cultural competency to serve diverse populations, and the robust exposure to various patients and nutritional interventions, both community- and clinically-based, will prime me to be a strong candidate for work in places that witness all levels of healthcare needs across the lifecycle.

Stephanie Cohen, School of Medicine

Video Link: https://tufts.box.com/s/buyqo49905n06iopl1yccgedaay1i40v

Reflection Paragraph:

I graduated as a member of the Tufts/SMFA dual degree program in 2016 majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in art history as well as a BFA in Studio Art from SMFA. I was accepted to the early assurance program and am graduating in the spring of 2020 from Tufts University School of Medicine. Throughout my 8 years at tufts, I have served as an advanced biochemistry teaching assistant, Tufts EMS member, designed multiple banners (one of which is still in Mayer Campus Center), and as a medical student have published multiple manuscripts as well as surgical illustrations. I am pursuing general surgery with the goal of becoming a transplant surgeon. I will use my love for art to draw for patients and create educational tools to improve healthcare literacy.

Jennifer Frye, Undergraduate School of Arts & Sciences, Tisch College of Civic Life

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TvLOwjEFuE&t=1s

Reflection Paragraph:

When I applied to Tufts, more than three years ago now, I wrote my "why Tufts" essay about the Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year program. As a low-income student, the fully-funded 1+4 Fellowship allowed me to choose Tufts over other universities that offered me better financial aid packages. My bridge year experience, as I mentioned in the video, strongly influenced my Tufts path. The Spanish language abilities I gained in Ecuador allowed me to place into a high-level Spanish course at Tufts and pursue a Spanish major in addition to my International Relations major. My passion for languages and cultures has only grown in my two years at Tufts. I've been able to take both Spanish and French classes, live in the Spanish house in my Sophomore year, and combine my language and international relations interests in my coursework and research. During my bridge year, I played with the Cuenca University Symphony Orchestra, and here at Tufts, I've been deeply involved with the Music Department. I've performed with the Tufts Jazz Orchestra, Tufts Chamber Singers, and Tufts Public Harmony, as well as taken piano lessons and worked for Music Event Staff. I'm so grateful for the experiences Tufts has given me and I can't wait to see what the next two years bring!

Amel Hassan, Undergraduate School of Engineering

Video Link: https://tufts.box.com/s/rbty7zkwsfr5gtnhrxo7qm95vngkhslh

Reflection Paragraph:

I am student in the engineering school studying computer science. Before college I had no exposure to computer science but I was able to pursue the major as Tufts provided me with resources to thrive. Professors, TAs, and friends helped me gain confidence. I reached out to my robotics professor to do research and eventually he introduced me to the first run of the LaidLaw Scholars program, enabling me to do 2 summers of consecutive research in robotics. My peers and I created an app that essentially translates robotic language into human language. It takes in sensor data from the robot and projects the data in the form of visuals in augmented reality around the robot in real-time. The overwhelming support I received at Tufts inspired me to give back. As the Tufts Women in Technology Conference chair for the year of 2019, I managed a group of seven phenomenal student leaders in an effort to organize a conference that brought together tech leaders and students for a day packed with talks, a career fair, interview prep, and more.

Prayank Jain, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Video Link: https://tufts.box.com/s/ugpu7nn2qfdh4y2dh5bj0cb580oh7hrt

Reflection Paragraph:

I am an Indian qualified international lawyer working on the intersection of human rights and climate issues. At the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, I am pursuing the Master of International Law (LLM) program with a focus on international negotiation, climate justice and nonprofit leadership. In my short time at Tufts, I have been involved in several research projects and student led initiatives which have given me the opportunity to work with the amazing Tufts faculty, staff and students. I take immense pride and joy in being a part of this community, particularly because of its interdisciplinary focus and healthy learning environment. The Fletcher School at Tufts University has been a transformational experience that has immensely supported my professional and personal growth. In this video, I share my experience as an international student and how I have tried to make the most of my opportunities.

Connie Li, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKSi9ZGPTdw&feature=youtu.be

Reflection Paragraph:

This video is about my experience as a new mother in veterinary medicine. It's been a long journey these past two years - juggling extracurriculars, studying, breastfeeding, and being a mother to a beautiful baby boy named Leo. I have been given the opportunity to travel to Chicago to hone my leadership skills at the AVMA conference, work and learn alongside peers about large animal NICU care and community medicine, and more. I am truly lucky to be able to be part of the Tufts family and look forward to seeing what the next two years have to offer for my new little family.

Olukunle Owolabi, Graduate School of Engineering

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84TznTUelOI&feature=youtu.be

Reflection Paragraph:

I am Olukunle Owolabi, a PhD Mechanical Engineering student at Tufts University. I am from Ogun State, Nigeria. One word to describe my experience so far is diversity. Though, I have always been fortunate to have enjoyed a fair share of diversity in my academic and professional experience - in geography and in scope. An experience that traverses three continents of the world equipped with a broader engineering background. Here at Tufts I am working with researchers and scientists to solve complex interdisciplinary problems at the intersection of data science and engineering.

Also, I was awarded the Stern Graduate fellowship which gives me the opportunity to get more out of research while engaging with the Tufts community outside the classroom. As a result of my interest in climate activism and clean energy, I am involved in planning one of the largest energy/climate conferences – Tufts Energy Conference – in the Greater Boston Area which gives me the opportunity to take the lead while working with multicultural graduate and undergraduate students on campus.

In summary, it has been a wonderful experience so far at Tufts and I hope to get more out of my time here.

Sukanya Upadhyaya, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbQpchBwkso&feature=youtu.be

Reflection Paragraph:

My upbringing in five countries shaped my multifaceted interests through constant travel and change. It also exposed me to the persisting inequality between countries. I knew that I ultimately wanted to help underprivileged groups through inventive policy-making and entrepreneurship. After high school in India, I graduated from Beloit College with an Economics and Studio Art double major and Mathematics minor. I applied to Tufts because their research-based Economics program seemed perfect for the rigorous learning I was seeking to back my vision. In this video, I try to highlight my wonderful experience at Tufts so far, using a visually stimulating "Draw-My-Life" approach. Like my diverse experiences, I attempt to combine music, art and entertainment in my Tufts Video Story of an M.S. Economics student.

Najah Walton, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Video Link: https://tufts.box.com/s/qdv7x87iqqh0taeoydhl3rdaikdxe1a8

Reflection Paragraph:

As an undergraduate nursing student I completed the Pathways to PhD program at Tufts Medical School. It was during this time that I was able to engage in research throughout a number of labs at Tufts and began to explore the prospect of applying to their neuroscience program once I completed my degree. As I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the pathways program, I applied and returned to Tufts as a summer student in the Building Diversity in the Biomedical Sciences Program. During this time I was matched in the lab of Dr. Jamie Maguire where I then went on to work as a research technician in my senior year. Now as a neuroscience graduate student, I am able to contribute to the community that has inspired me to pursue my passions while continuing with a research project that has potential to impact the mental health field.

Honorable Mentions