Monday, October 12, 2009

Welcome to Tufts, Michelle

An open letter to Tufts University's most renowned graduate student, Michelle Kwan.

Welcome to Tufts, Michelle! We are so happy to have you on campus. When I first heard that you would be skating circles up and down Packard Avenue at our very own Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy this semester, I thought: a) you are way cooler than Emma Watson, and b) you have totally raised Fletcher’s already high admissions standards to ludicrous heights with those two Olympic medals dangling from your neck. All those Peace Corps kids don’t stand a chance anymore.

Just a friendly joke there (and no disrespect to any involved in the Peace Corps), but this being a slightly serious column, I thought it might be nice to give our newfound friend Ms. Kwan an abbreviated history of select public figures who have enrolled at Tufts over the years. Think of this column like Aesop’s Fables for minor celebrities in Medford, but we will throw out the tortoise and the hare and go with Jessica Biel and the dude who wears the big glasses from The Office.

So, without further preface, we start with Ms. Biel herself. We all remember her as the young Mary Camden from our favorite family friendly teen drama 7th Heaven, but after appearing in a racy photo shoot and having her role on the show reduced, Biel decided to take a few years out of the spotlight and come to our quiet corner of suburban Boston. And what a great idea it was. After honing her craft in the Drama Department for several semesters, movie offers started piling and Biel went back to Hollywood and, well, turned into a huge movie star and is now dating Justin Timberlake. Not too shabby. She should thank us more. Maybe a contribution to the Beyond Boundaries Campaign, Jess? Show the History Department a little love for me.

Our next story follows Rainn Wilson, another Tufts drop out who has now made a name for himself in show business. After dropping out of Tufts and struggling for years in the New York acting scene, Wilson’s stock skyrocketed when he landed the role of Dwight K. Schrute, a beet farming paper salesman on NBC’s The Office. He was just in a movie about musician that I didn’t see, but, hey, it’s still a movie.

So…if these stories provide any didactic wisdom it would be to dropout after a couple of semesters. Seriously. The dude who founded American Apparel dropped out of Tufts, too. Now he supplies the hipsters of the world with gold lamé leotards, uber-tight T-shirts, and ironically large sunglasses. Well done.

But if you are looking for a less notorious role model, maybe check out Pierre Omidyar. After graduating with a degree in computer science, Omidyar founded eBay at 24 and got super rich letting people sell their old stuff to other people they don’t know on the Internet. Quite an accomplishment, but like any true active citizen he didn’t stop there. After selling the company for buckets of cash, Omidyar founded the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment organization dedicated to social change. Bravo!

And I shouldn’t discount the countless Tufts and Fletcher grads that are involved in public service, business, and academia around the world.

So Michelle, I hope this little lesson has been informative. Though I’m sure the really cool looking room in Ginn Library will be extra crowded this year with folks trying to see you, we are all super excited that you are here and want our home to be your home for the next two years! Good luck to you and we all hope to see you around campus, especially if they put out that little faux ice skating rink on Fletcher Field at Winter Carnival. I want to see a triple axel.

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