Alejandro Colina-Valeri, E21, EG22

School: School of Engineering 

Degree: Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering (after having earned his undergraduate degree as a member of the Class of 2021) 

Favorite thing about Tufts: The friendliness of the people 


What do you consider to be your hometown? 

Mérida, Venezuela. I spent most of my childhood there. But that is only half the story! I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and was brought to Mérida when I was 18 months. When I was five, my family moved to Valladolid, Spain. We stayed there for three years and then returned to Mérida for another five. Then, we moved back to the United States and lived in a small town called Lake Crystal, Minnesota. And when I was a junior in high school, we moved again, this time to Tampa, Florida. Afterward, I came to Tufts and now I’m planning to head to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. So, I’m a bit of a nomad, and I consider myself to be not just Venezuelan but a mix of all the places I have lived in. Ultimately, though, home is where my family is.  

Why was the School of Engineering the right place for you? 

I was always very curious about putting things together. Something I’ve enjoyed since I was little is setting traps, just like in the movie Home Alone, so that when, for example, a door opens, a trap falls at the right moment. I remember once there was an old TV set that I took apart for fun, to see what it was like inside. Then, at school, math and physics were my favorite subjects; for all these reasons, I knew I wanted to study engineering after graduating from high school. 

When I started applying to colleges, I visited Tufts during a STEM Fly-In program. I got to stay for one day, and I fell in love with the place. One thing I was told at the time was that students at Tufts take things seriously, but they don’t take themselves seriously. That really hit me, because I’m a person who works hard but I also like to have fun. Also, I loved the environment, especially the Hill. Mérida, where I’m mostly from, has five peaks, so there’s something that really appeals to me about places with hills.  

After five years of being here, I know I made the right choice—I’ve made so many friends, and I’ve changed my way of thinking. 

How did Tufts change your way of thinking? 

You might think it would be about the technical details of engineering, but it’s really more about the process of thinking as an engineer. There’s a professor whom I dearly love—he’s a mentor of mine and a friend, Ron Lasser. In his classes, you learn how to learn. You do a year-long project and you learn the whole process: how to launch something, how to iterate, how to make it better over time. That really started changing my mind about what engineering is.  

What’s your superpower?  

I can give you two: I’ve been told by my friends that I bring a lot of energy to a room. Sometimes people will say I’m the life of the party (even though I don’t party that much!). My energy is contagious, and I’m able to transfer it to other people. Also, I like to listen. I’ve become more empathetic at Tufts, and I’ve learned how to not say anything and, instead, just acknowledge what someone is saying and then maybe give some suggestions. I’m there to hear what anyone has to say. 

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

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