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Tisch Summer Fellows Program Grows and Garners Alumni Support

Monday, May 22, 2017

More than 125 students have summer internships working for the public good.

Tisch Summer Fellow Benya Kraus

Before Jordan Abosch pursued a Tisch Summer Fellowship on Capitol Hill, he admits that he “knew very little about how our government operates.” But now, Jordan sees “how essential it is to our society that citizens pay attention and think critically about the issues facing our country, therefore being actively engaged in whom they elect to represent them,” adding that he is sure his Washington, D.C. summer “changed my life.”

At a pivotal time in our nation’s civic and political life, experiences like Jordan’s are the driving force behind the expansion of the Tisch Summer Fellows program, which continues to grow, adding new locations and new internship placements. This innovative program, funded entirely through philanthropy, allows undergraduate and graduate students to work in public interest positions here and around the world.

Interest from Tufts students, across all disciplines, is at an all-time high, and the program has more than doubled in just the past two years. In the summer of 2015 there were 45 fellowship placements, but thanks to new program partnerships and the generosity of our alumni and supporters, there are 126 fellowships for the summer of 2017, including 13 international placements. Over 700 applications were submitted for this summer, making this year the most competitive year on record.

Fellows are placed with organizations in nonprofits, or organizations in the public and private sectors, throughout New York City, the greater Boston area, or Washington, D.C.—as well as overseas with international community-based organizations. Whether working with children at Rosie’s Theater Kids in New York, tackling challenging urban development issues with the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, or researching pressing legal issues at The Constitution Project in the nation’s capital, students are gaining experience while adding capacity to a wide range of organizations.

Tisch Summer Fellowships are designed to provide hands-on skills, expand students’ networks, and help them explore career paths, all while building stronger communities. By providing stipends for these Fellows, our goal is to help democratize these experiences working for the public good, making them available to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, not just those who have the family support to work in unpaid internships.

Our students are the best advocates for the program’s results. “My supervisors pushed me to challenge myself every day by giving me new opportunities for leadership and community engagement, equipping me with leadership and community-building skills that I found necessary not only during my internship but for any field in civic leadership and management,” said Saki Kitadai, A17, of her fellowship at the New York Academy of Medicine,  As a result of her Tisch Summer Fellowship, Saki reported that she entered her final year of college, “with a renewed commitment to my studies, more confidence in my professional and communication skills that I hope to use to maximize through my civic engagement, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude to all those who made this summer possible.”

The program’s growth is due in part to strategic investments in new partnerships with Tufts’ graduate and professional schools, including the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, the School of Medicine and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. In addition, for the first time, the Tisch Summer Fellows program partnered with The Fletcher School to fund six U.S. Department of State internships (two abroad, four domestic).

We are also proud to announce the inaugural Tisch Summer Fellows Program in India, made possible by a generous Tufts alumnus, Vikram Akula, A90. Five Tufts students will work at the Bodhi School in Hyderabad, and the program aims to balance student learning with organizational capacity building and grassroots development to strengthen cultural immersion and global citizenship.

The program’s growing alumni engagement is also reflected domestically. Over 90 Tufts alumni have volunteered to serve as group facilitators and mentors to Tisch Summer Fellows this summer. Moreover, the Tufts University Alumni Association (TUAA) recently allocated $10,000 to fund two Tisch Summer Fellowships. As TUAA president David Meyers, A96, explained, “The alumni association is making strides to better incorporate civic life into the alumni experience. After all, our mission is to engage and connect with Tufts alumni, and many of our alumni have made civic engagement a major focus of their professional and personal lives.” He noted that the Alumni Association is also partnering with Tisch College on the Tufts University Civic Life Network, adding: “I'm looking forward to working together on additional ways to support alumni and the great work being done at Tisch College."

Tisch College is proud to offer the Tisch Summer Fellows Program to students to strengthen civic engagement and looks forward to its continued growth.