Meet Kaila Caffey, A23

Schools: Tisch College of Civic Life and School of Arts and Sciences

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

Home: Definitely Philly. You learn my name and you learn that I’m from Phlly. I’m proud of where I come from. 

Why was Tisch College important for you?

I’d been exposed to Spanish through various family members throughout my life, and gaining fluency in the language was always an important goal for me. So, I applied to be part of the Tisch 1+4 program in Ecuador. I spent a full academic year working at a women’s shelter there before I came to campus. I’ve been consistently grateful for the relationships that I built while I was in Ecuador.

Once I got to campus, pretty much all of the experiences I wanted to engage with as a student were housed in Tisch College, so I stuck around and participated in most of the other student programs. I also built really wonderful and supportive relationships with staff and other students through Tisch that I am grateful for.

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

Coming from Philadelphia, I was shocked by how different Boston is—and how different Tufts is. I wasn’t used to being in a predominantly white institution or in a very white, wealthy environment. Honestly, a lot of my sense of shock was related to racism and the volume of microaggressions that I experienced on campus as a woman of color.

Because of what I experienced, I was forced to develop confidence and a deeper sense of groundedness in myself; without those things, I wouldn’t have made it through four years here. I didn’t expect to grow in that way because I didn’t expect my college experience to be loaded with racism—I can’t think about my years at Tufts without acknowledging that fact. I think there are much nicer ways to find groundness or to strengthen one’s sense of self, and I’m not particularly happy with how I found it for myself, but I am happy with where I'm at now and where I'm going.

If you could give your first-year self a piece of advice, what would it be?

I’d probably say take a deep breath. I think many freshmen on campus feel pressured to find a place to belong, and I felt overwhelmed by that.

So, take a deep breath—and also go out into Boston a bit more. See what else is out there beyond just Tufts.

What are three words you’d use to describe your senior year?

Ready to go. I’d like to be somewhere warm for a little while. I feel excited to move on to the next moment in life.

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