Olif Soboka Hordofa, E22

School: School of Engineering 

Degree: Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics 

Core belief: Having the right people around you is everything.  

What have you learned about yourself at Tufts that surprised you?  

Really, everything is surprising. I come from a completely different culture: Ethiopia. Coming to this new place was scary at first, but I’ve been able to navigate the system. And now Tufts is a place where I have experienced self-discovery to the highest extreme. I’ve gotten to a point at which I am proud of what I’ve been able to achieve academically, especially given my experiences of social and cultural barriers. Here I am in a completely different culture, a completely different environment, with a very diverse group of individuals, but I’ve made genuine relationships with so many people along the way.  

You can give your first-year self a piece of advice. What is it? 

Dare to try. And don’t be scared to fail. It’s not where you go; it’s how you get there. Looking back, I am very grateful for the nights that I was frustrated by not being able to solve a problem. Those nights taught me so much about myself. I would tell my first-year self to persevere in the process no matter how hard it is.  

What’s your favorite place on campus? 

Every time I want some personal space, I say to my friends, “Hey, I’m going to go to my hideaway.” And I have not told my friends where my hideaway is, because I know they would come looking for me (but I guess now they’ll know!). When I need some emotional space and to collect my thoughts, I go to Bello Field. I like sitting in the bleachers and looking onto the grass; it’s a meditative experience for me. I love soccer, but for a variety of reasons, I couldn’t play soccer when I came here, so Bello Field gives me a safe space and a way to reconnect to something I really enjoy.  

In ten years, you will be… 

Probably publishing my research that I will have started while working toward my PhD—and being proud of what I’m doing because it makes a difference in the world. I want my work and my contribution to make a difference in the world. If it’s 20 years, 25… it doesn’t matter: I want to go back to Ethiopia and contribute to lifting the community that made me who I am today. I want to educate the youth there and catalyze change in my country.  

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

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