Jumbo: The Sequel

John and Debby Saltzman met at matriculation in 1979, and now their son Jeff has begun his journey at Tufts
Watch a slideshow of the Saltzmans as they dropped off their son Jeff for matriculation. Photos: Kelvin Ma
September 16, 2013

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Some parents live vicariously through their children. Wandering around the dorms on college move-in day, they can be just as excited as the students.

“It’s neat to be able to relive it just a little bit through your kids,” said Debby Saltzman, J83, as she helped her son Jeff, A17, move into Hill Hall. “There are so many opportunities for him. It’s really gratifying as parents to know that he’s going to try his best to take advantage of that.”

She might be considered an expert on first days at Tufts. Thirty-four years ago, Saltzman met her husband, John, A83, on their first day as Jumbos, during an event hosted by the Tufts Mountain Club. Hiking through the Middlesex Fells, Debby said they fell right in next to each other, discovered they had a friend in common and clicked right away as friends. As fate would have it, they ended up in the same dorm, Metcalf Hall, their sophomore year and started dating soon thereafter.

Three kids later, they found themselves back on the Hill on August 28 to help Jeff, their only son, move in. As their youngest and the lone Jumbo, he decided to follow in their footsteps in the great outdoors by participating in the Tufts Wilderness Orientation.

“I felt so positive about the experience that he had at pre-orientation,” Debby said. “He already seemed to have made some friends, waving at people around campus. I’m tickled by the fact that he’ll have similar experiences.”

Jeff says his parents didn’t push any of them to consider Tufts. In fact, it wasn’t until they brought him to campus and gave him their own personal tour, showing him their old haunts, that he realized how much the university meant to them.

“They were like kids again,” says Jeff. “I’m excited to be here, but I think they showed it more than I did. [My mom] is so happy that she’s got a kid who’s following in her footsteps.”

The Saltzmans became campus celebrities later in the day, when Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Lee Coffin singled them out in his welcoming speech at matriculation. Coffin noted that the new class had 94 sons and daughters of Tufts alumni, one of whom was a “heavy-metal drummer from Newton whose parents met 34 years ago on their first day of Tufts’ freshman orientation.” Then he told the incoming freshmen to “think about what could happen to you later today,” prompting awkward glances between students.

“There were some weird moments of people thinking back to who they met that day,” Jeff says.

Weird? Sure. But as the Saltzmans can attest, those moments can be the ones worth remembering.

Kelvin Ma can be reached at kelvin.ma@tufts.edu. 

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