Lidya Woldeyesus, A22

School: Arts and Sciences 

Degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Civic Studies 

Home: Wherever the people who speak to my heart are, the people who empower me 

Tisch College involvement: Tisch Scholar, Tisch Summer Fellow, JumboVote leader, Andrew Goodman Fellow, Newman Civic Fellow, and 2021 Presidential Award for Civic Life winner 


Why was Tufts the right place for you? 

I’m Eritrean, and when I came for Jumbo Days during my senior year in high school, I was hosted by the only other Eritrean girl on campus. She introduced me to so many people, and she helped me gain a sense of what it would be like to be a Black student here, a Christian student, a low-income student. Seeing that Tufts could offer me an actual community convinced me—and that community has sustained me throughout my years here.  

Your favorite place on campus? 

First, The Sink, the student-run coffee shop in the campus center. In my freshman year, I got $70 dollars in Jumbo cash and I spent all of it on coffee there. Also the Africana Center: You walk in, and people are dancing or doing homework or just hanging. All vibes are welcome, and I love that—I love experiencing the communal joy or whatever else people are feeling there. 

What course most prepared you for life after college? 

Malcolm X: that class was just incredible. I remember it so well—I can quote entire speeches that I learned in it; it was an environment where I was learning every single day. Sometimes that experience gets lost in an academic institution: there are always assessments, and you have to stay on top of your work, and it becomes about getting through. But that class made me feel like learning was central to my life, and I loved it because of both the content of the course and the ways in which it helped me develop. I’ve carried that energy with me. In my last semester, I had only one requirement left for graduation, but I took four classes; three were just for fun, because I want to learn everything I can.  

What’s something about your time at Tufts of which you’re proud? 

The growth I was able to experience. I struggled a lot with my mental health here. Part of the unfortunately too-common story of Black students is that we start college with a lot of pressure, whether it’s put upon us from our communities and families or from ourselves. So I spent a lot of time unpacking that. Also, I’d never lived in Massachusetts before, and it was my first time staying away from home. There were many factors that made things challenging. But I can say now that, while I didn’t know myself when I entered Tufts, I am graduating with a much better idea of who I am.  

This profile originally appeared as part of the series “Profiles in Inspiration: Commencement 2022 Spotlights."

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