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Class of 2024: Relationship Reflections

Congratulations to the Class of 2024 and thank you to everyone who gave them a hand along the way

Graduating seniors Rose Kitz, E24, Brianna Starling, E24, and Alexandra Shapiro, A24, reflect on the relationships and special bonds they've built with mentors Brandon Stafford, Madeline Fabela, E23, and Lauren Bloom, and the greater communities they've been a part of during their last four years at Tufts.

In addition, we received testimonials from other members of the undergraduate Class of 2024 about faculty members and administrators who contributed in meaningful ways to their experience at the university:

Kevin Kraft, Associate Dean of Students, School of Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering

I met Kevin after taking two semesters of medical leave for a serious illness. I think it is safe to say that I would not be graduating if it wasn’t for Kevin. Calls with my parents, late-night emails, Zoom meetings over breaks... I imagine that there are very few people as dedicated to their students’ wellbeing. Kevin is first and foremost a friend, the type of friend that you can depend on in any situation or talk to about anything: health or politics, or relationships. I can’t imagine Tufts without him.

—Tyler Cipriano, A24

Kev, I remember this quote from one of my philosophy classes: “the person one loves at first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end, but a process through which we can understand one another.” Whenever I think about the people who have changed my life these past four years, you have always been there. Yeah, I know that I’m still bad with my emotions, but I wanted to say thank you for loving me. Thank you for guiding me through the journey of who I am. If I could be half the man that you thought I was, that would be enough.

—Julian Chun, A24

Amy Lischko, Professor of the Practice, Community Health, School of Arts and Sciences

Professor Amy Lischko—“Prof L”—is a bright light on the Tufts campus. Among the best professors I’ve had, she has ignited my passion for health policy. Prof L’s gift lies in simplifying complex health concepts, making them easily digestible and accessible for her students. Her courses have certainly sparked my curiosity in policy, instilling a realistic yet optimistic perspective on creating large-scale change. I’m incredibly grateful to Prof L for being a champion and mentor, shaping my future direction post-Tufts.

—Arielle Galinsky, A24

Asuka Ohsawa, Lecturer, School of the Museum of Fine Arts

Asuka Ohsawa's gentle spirit and endless kindness have been a guiding light throughout my time at Tufts. Her compassionate approach to teaching has created a nurturing environment where students feel valued and supported. Beyond her warm demeanor, [Ohsawa's] introduction of the risograph has sparked a newfound passion within me. She has not only expanded my artistic horizons but also instilled in me a deeper appreciation for the craft. It has been through her unwavering support, guidance, and genuine care that I have grown in my artistic practice, academic and personal journey. 

—Freya Gupta, A24

Cynthia Smith, Lecturer, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development

Cynthia Smith's support and encouragement have truly shaped my academic journey. Beyond the classroom, her genuine interest in her students' well-being fosters a sense of belonging and community. Her mentorship has not only deepened my passion for child studies and its intersection with art, but also instilled in me a greater sense of confidence and purpose. I am profoundly grateful for her guidance, which has been instrumental in my growth at Tufts. Thank you for making such a meaningful impact on my life.

—Freya Gupta, A24

Mary Ellen Strom, Professor of the Practice, School of the Museum of Fine Arts

Mary Ellen Strom, a professor of the practice in video installation, holds a profound place in my life's narrative. Her mentorship has been transformative, shaping my artistic vision and elevating my video-making endeavors. Through her guidance, my conceptual explorations, particularly in my thesis project 'Digital Deception,' have flourished. This year-long journey culminates in its showcase at the SMFA art show, a testament to her invaluable influence. Mary Ellen's commitment to nurturing creativity has not only honed my skills but also enriched my perspective, forever altering the trajectory of my artistic journey.

—Giada M. James, A24 (BFA)

Throughout my MFA education at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, Professor Mary Ellen Strom has been an invaluable mentor. She has profoundly shaped my artistic development with her insightful feedback and encouragement, instilling within me a newfound confidence to experiment and explore new approaches in my artistic practice. I am continuously inspired by Professor Strom’s passion for fostering a supportive and collaborative artistic community, and her dedication to sharing knowledge with others. As both an artist and educator, I aspire to emulate her impact, utilizing my own platform as a video artist to make a global impact while empowering the next generation of media artists. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to have been mentored by such a dedicated and exceptional educator, whose influence will continue to shape my artistic and professional journey for years to come.

—Olivia Maday, AG24 (MFA)  

Chantal Zakari, Professor of the Practice and Chair, Graphic Arts, Print, Paper, and Photography, School of the Museum of Fine Arts

Professor Chantal Zakari epitomizes firmness, structure, and dedication to the discipline of graphic arts. Her rigorous approach to teaching has challenged me to push beyond my limits and strive for excellence. Her commitment to fostering a deep understanding of the subject matter and cultivating critical thinking skills has greatly influenced my growth at Tufts. Thank you, Chantal, for your profound impact on my academic and personal development!

—Freya Gupta, A24