Denzel Oduro, A22 (BFA)

School: School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts 

Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts 

Biggest adjustment made at Tufts: I’m finally used to the weather—it’s not like the climate in West Africa, where I’m from.


Why was SMFA at Tufts the right place for you?

There are four reasons. It appealed to me as an independent school embedded in a bigger research institution. I loved that I could take classes—psychology, computer science, game design, history—outside of my major; I didn’t find that in any other art school. I also appreciated the arts consortium, which is a group of schools in the Boston area, including SMFA at Tufts, where you can take classes if you’re enrolled at any one of the schools. I saw that as an opportunity to expand my community. And finally, I like that you don’t have to have a concentration. That was perfect for me, because I wasn't really set on one thing I wanted to do. I just wanted to try everything.

What has been your focus? What inspired that interest?

I focus on design, but I also have a very psychology-heavy course load. You could maybe even say psychology is my unofficial minor. I like it because it helps me understand the reasons why people make certain decisions, which is very helpful when it comes to design. So, for example, if you're designing a product or, say, a mobile app, and you're choosing green, why are you choosing green? How does green resonate with people? What occurs in the brain when people see green? Why might people associate green with sustainability or agriculture? Psychology teaches you to ask questions like that and seek useful answers.

I think my interest lies in the fact that, through design work, I'm able to solve people’s problems. In that way, for me, design goes beyond simply creative work. It’s functional. If I'm designing a software or a mobile app, of course, it has to look pretty and all of that, but I also want to know what problem I’m solving. That’s where the sense of fulfillment comes from.

What's your best piece of advice for people who aspire to do what you're about to do?

Find problems around you and try to solve them. Also, participate in hackathons! There's an annual Tufts hackathon called Polyhack. When I went to my very first hackathon, I was solving problems with computer scientists and researchers and businesspeople—it was an incredible experience.

Also, find things to do on campus that are related to design or arts. For example, during my time at Tufts, I was part of JumboCode, which is an organization that helps nonprofits by creating digital products for them. It’s student-led and organized. You can work on a team made up of computer science majors and designers, with the latter designing a product and the former coding it, and then you present the product to the nonprofit for free. That was another great experience.

What’s one thing that has surprised you during your time at Tufts?

I’ve loved the insightful conversations I’ve had and the genuine relationships I’ve built here with so many different people from so many different parts of the world. Tufts has really given me a global perspective that I'll always carry with me, and I didn’t know, coming in, that I would find that here.

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

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