My Path, My Tufts: Creating Community with Science

Shubhecchha Dhaurali, A23, talks about her love of science and the challenge of being the first woman in her family to go to college

Shubhecchha Dhaurali, A23, was born in Nepal and came to the United States when she was two. The first woman in her family to attend college, she has long been fascinated by science. She interned with biomedical engineering professor Sergio Fantini’s lab starting as a junior in high school and built a community there—so figuring out where she wanted to go to college was easy: Tufts.

Most of my life I’ve moved around. I was originally born in Nepal, came to the U.S. when I was two. We moved around in Seattle a lot and then finally came to Massachusetts, living in Cambridge, in Somerville, then we came here to Medford—and it was like the rest of my life was finally beginning. Medford’s been the one place I’ve really lived. It’s like home.

I’m the first woman in my family to go to college. My dad went to college, but it was in Nepal. It’s nerve wracking and it’s a lot of pressure, because everyone else in my family is looking up to me—but it’s also something that I’m really proud of and excited to do, because I can show not only my family but other people that you can build the rest of your life just based on yourself.

Science excites me for so many reasons. I love discovering new things. In high school, I started looking for opportunities where I could explore more science outside of the classroom. I first started volunteering at the Museum of Science when I was a sophomore. This summer I was a summer youth program assistant at the Hall of Human Life—I was in charge of the youth volunteers, as well as the interns. I trained them on all the activities we have, and I also scheduled their activities daily.

I did a lot of science fairs in high school. In ninth grade and tenth grade, I came up with an idea and did it at a school lab. But I wanted more. My science teacher told me about a lab at Tufts—I didn’t even know it was right next door. I got connected to DOIT lab—the Diffuse Optical Imaging of Tissue Lab.

Mentors there helped me and I got to develop my own little science fair for two years. At the lab I conducted research on peripheral arterial disease using near-infrared spectroscopy. My projects were based on blood flow, oxygen consumption, and other measurable physiological changes in calf muscles during rest and exercise. As I was more involved in the lab, I got more used to the area and got to know the people there.

When I was applying to colleges and writing essays, I really had to think through why I wanted to go to other schools—but not Tufts. I kid you not, it took me thirty minutes to complete the entire application. The essay question “Why Tufts?”—it just flowed out of me. At that point I was like, “Why am I applying to other schools when I clearly know that Tufts is the one I want to go to? I’ve already built a community there and I want to continue it.”

Where do I hope to be in five years? I’ll be twenty-three, so obviously I hope to graduate from Tufts, but after that, a crazy dream of mine would be to be in charge of a corporation or create my own—become some sort of entrepreneur. Creativity is something I really like—there are always ideas flowing out of my brain.

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