Meet Fatima Lawan, A23

School: School of Arts and Sciences

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Biology and Environmental Science

Home: Lagos, Nigeria

What have you focused on in your studies at Tufts?

I’ve always been passionate about science and healthcare. Mostly what I care about is how science affects people, so my studies have centered around environmental racism, pollution, climate change, and how these things can disproportionately affect the biological systems and health of oppressed groups in the United States, especially Black people.

What’s something you’ve done in your time at Tufts that would most surprise your first-year self?

I came into college being one of those people who was sure they knew what they were trying to get out of this, what the goal was, what classes they would take. I think my freshman-year self would be pleasantly surprised by how many communities I’ve explored and gotten involved in. For example, I joined the mock trial team, which had nothing at all to do with my ambitions—but it was fun! I met exceptional people. I tried acting classes, photography—things I never thought of as being for me but that led me to new passions.

The best part of it all was that the community that I built for myself at Tufts, both professors and peers, encouraged me to explore so many facets and avenues of my identity that I hadn’t thought about exploring before.

What three words would you use to describe your senior year?

Bittersweet, exhilarating, and gratifying.

Bittersweet because it’s a journey that’s coming to an end. I decided going into this year that I would take the time to appreciate all the people who have meant a lot to me over the years—those people you’re so happy to run into on the street, and you say, “Let’s get lunch!” and then you never get lunch. I knew that this year I’d really get lunch with them, and I’ve managed to do that—that’s been the sweet part. The bitter part has been realizing that this incredibly meaningful and important chapter of my life is closing. That’s a hard thing to process.

Exhilarating because I’ve made an intentional effort this year to have fun. I’ve refused to be stressed out about things. My friends and I have had our movie nights, we’ve explored, we’ve gone to museums. It’s been such a blast.

Gratifying because it feels like the time has come. I’m so thankful for what these four years have given me. And now that I’m at the end of it, I wouldn’t change a single thing about the journey I’ve been on. I’m proud of myself and grateful that I had so many people around me who believed in me and pushed me to keep doing better.

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