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Profiles in Giving

Naiara Souto, A10

About the Gift

When Doris York was growing up in Somerville in the 1920s, her father didn't think girls should go to college. That didn't stop her. She worked her way to a law degree from the old Portia Law School on Beacon Hill and went on to a career as a bank executive with the United States Trust Co. in Boston.

Along the way, she invested in tax-free municipal bonds. When she died in 2004 at 92, York, who never married, left an estate worth roughly $4 million. Nearly half she left to Tufts to endow a full-tuition scholarship for young women graduates of Somerville High, from which she graduated in 1929.

Now, the first recipient of a Doris W. York Scholarship has graduated from Tufts—and is helping a new generation of students pursue their own college dreams.

About the Recipient

Naiara Souto, A10, counseled students at Somerville High as a member of the College Advising Corps at Tisch College. Now she has taken a job in diversity recruitment at Tufts’ Admissions Office.

Having emigrated herself from Brazil at the age of seven, one issue that is especially close to her heart is working with Latino students. “Many don’t want to move away from home or are kind of scared that the environment is going to be too different from what they’re used to,” she says. “I get that completely, having gone from Brazil to Somerville High to Tufts. College is a whole different world.”

She recalled her own immigrant story. Breaking through the language barrier “by watching a lot of television,” she applied herself to her studies and managed to reach the top of her high school class. She and her siblings were the first in their family to aspire to college, and tuition promised to be a challenge. The York Scholarship paid her way through Tufts.

The Difference

Now she is lending a hand to the students who have come after her. “When I went back to Somerville High to advise, it was satisfying to have kids just plop down and talk to me about their frustrations and to give them a professional outlet,” she said.

“Not everyone at Somerville is on the college path—and the college path, once you get on it, isn’t always the easiest. The members of the class I just worked with are headed for their freshman year at college, and I tried my best to prepare them.

“If they have any issues, they have my phone number!”