Matriculation 2015: Galleries

Launched, Part I: Stories of New Jumbos:

Martin Majkut, E19, Has Engineering in His Blood

Story and Photos by Alonso Nichols

A fine dust swirls around them as Martin Majkut, E19, and his father Boguslaw turn a small block of acrylic plastic on a lathe in their home workshop in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Martin works intently, his mouth set in a firm line of concentration. His father softly offers up instructions in his native Polish and in English. In a few hours, father and son will have transformed ordinary plastic into an elegant pen equal to that in any fine stationer.

A talent for designing, making and fixing things appears to run in the family. Boguslaw, a truck driver who works six days a week, taught himself to make the pens. He can also carve, draw and paint with an equally steady hand. The father’s pride is obvious as he watches Martin work, noting that his son has been able to change the oil in the family car and fix the brakes since he was 16. Martin is an engineering major at Tufts, although he hasn’t yet decided which discipline.

Later in the day, in the kitchen of the family’s well-tended home in a city that was the center of cotton textile manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution, Martin’s mother, Halina, prepares to serve a meal that Martin helped cook. She speaks to her son in Polish—she, too, was born there—as they set the table and discuss preparations for a family party to celebrate Martin leaving for college. She gently teases Martin and his younger brother Dominic about the toll their school work, jobs at the local McDonald’s and extracurricular activities (both boys played soccer) have taken on her.

Martin is the first in the Majkut family to attend college. He got an early taste of campus life as a participant in the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program. He says he is ready and eager to dive in. At home in Rhode Island, just an hour south of Tufts, his parents say they will keep his room ready—just in case he wants to stop by for a meal or an Xbox rematch with his brother.

Alonso Nichols can be reached at


Launched, Part II: Stories of New Jumbos: Eduardo Barrera, A19, grew up right around the corner.
Launched, Part III: Stories of New Jumbos: Ellah Nzikoba’s journey from a refugee camp in Africa to the Class of 2019 at Tufts.