The Big Change

Four freshmen in the Class of 2014 remember what it was like heading off to college

As their first year at Tufts winds to an end, the freshmen in the Class of 2014 are gearing up for finals and looking back on their first year in college. As a way to share their stories, four freshmen let us take an inside look at their pre-Tufts lives and what was running through their minds before they came to campus, from as far away as San Diego and as near as Lexington, Mass. They are from different parts of the country and different circumstances, but they all had one thing in common: an eagerness to become active members of the Tufts community.

Leiny Garcia came to Tufts from a neighborhood just outside of downtown Los Angeles, Calif. She had always lived in the same apartment building, where her parents, younger brother and a large extended family form a close-knit community. Coming all the way to Medford was an attractive but difficult choice for Garcia, a first-generation college student whose parents wanted her to attend a school closer to home and the family.

“They wanted me to stay in California, but I convinced them that going to Tufts was better,” said Garcia last fall. “Even though I love my family so much, I need my independence. It is going to be hard because I have always lived my life with them, with my grandma and my cousins, but it is going to be good for me.”

Her decision was solidified after attending April Open House and hearing Kim Knox, the associate dean of undergraduate education at the School of Engineering, speak to prospective students and parents about studying engineering at Tufts. The enthusiasm, warmth and support that Leiny, who is majoring in mechanical engineering, found here made her realize that Tufts was the place for her.

A New Course 

John Dame is from Baltimore, Md. He grew up in the restaurant business, working with his parents, Linwood and Ellen. When not hosting at the highly rated Linwoods restaurant, he could often be found in the press box at Camden Yards, calling the Baltimore Orioles games for the radio station that he started at his high school.

But he was ready for the change. As he said just before arriving on campus, “It’ll be interesting going from the world of fine dining to the dining halls at Tufts.”

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Family Matters

Daryan J. Barnes hails from Memphis, Tenn. He first came to campus in the fall of 2010 to participate in the Voices program for prospective students, and then applied for early admission. At home during school breaks—when he is not catching up on much-needed sleep—Barnes enjoys spending time with his extended family. He misses them, Southern food and Memphis, but he says he was ready to live in a new place and is excited about being at Tufts.

“I’ve never experienced that sense of global community,” he says. “Small-town Memphis just isn’t getting it for me.”

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A New Life on a Different Coast

Michelle Doyle lived in San Diego with her mother, father, older sister, younger brother, four dogs and three cats before arriving at Tufts. “I have to buy lots of warm clothes—well, find someone from the area to go shopping with me to pick out my warm clothes. I’ve actually seen it snow, I think, twice in my life,” she said last fall. “That will be an interesting change—waking up to white fields of snow. That’ll be pretty, I think.”

With Boston’s 78 inches of snowfall this winter, she is now well aware of what the white stuff really looks like.

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Alonso Nichols can be reached at

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