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The Faces of Tufts

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Bearing the Untold Story

Colby Wilkinson, A15

As part of a university-wide drive to increase financial aid, Tufts is offering to match any newly established endowed scholarship of $100,000 or more, doubling the size of the fund the donor has endowed.

What’s the true value of such a gift?

These students, alumni, and former faculty, can tell you.

Colby Wilkinson builds each outline of his nonfiction assignments line by line, no problem. It’s when he gets to the heart of the story that his writer’s block hits. When he’s writing about his mom or his small hometown in New Hampshire, the vulnerability is at its keenest, as daunting as standing in front of the entire class to read the draft that could always use another tweak, in a voice that never quite matches the eloquent, glowing narrator in his mind. But his lecturer Neil Miller encouraged and inspired him—“not just as a teacher, but as a friend,” Colby says—to push himself. To feed the lines with character and emotional truth. And now the rush and pride he feels before reading his work aloud are the same rush and pride that race through him every Saturday before the big game.

Every one of those games brings a knock-down—he’s a Jumbos linebacker. But Coach Jay Civetti is like a second father and he has 70 brothers in grass-stained brown and blue helping him up. He lives with five of them in a three-story house on Boston Ave. where they banter and debate politics. “That’s what I love most about Tufts,” he says. “Everyone shares their passions.” His is community health, the idea of making a change before the problem starts—his own upstream solution. “Spreading awareness and education can prevent illnesses and epidemics,” he explains. With what he describes as “a mouthful” of math, macro- and micro-economics theory classes, and finance internships on his résumé, he knows he can make a difference after graduation.

His electives fill other holes he didn’t even know were empty.

“I had no idea what music really was beyond my iPod before I took music theory with Janet Schmalfeldt,” he says. These days when he turns on Mozart he hears measures and movements, themes and time signatures, and melodies that crescendo poco a poco into a perfect authentic cadence. In creative writing, Colby’s released a hidden part of himself. “I’ve learned it’s about pushing yourself, fulfilling my potential. And that lesson applies to everything.” Even you. “I’m on financial aid and to me that means opportunity,” Colby says, “because it’s not just your parents or relatives sending you to school—there are hundreds of people supporting me, and I want to live up to their expectations.

“When you give me aid, you’re helping me personally achieve a goal. I give my all at Tufts every day because I don’t want to let the people who believe in me—who trust in me enough to use that aid for good—I don’t want to let them down.”

Questions? Contact the Tufts Fund at  617.627.4930 |