Mary-Isabel Aromando, J89

Mary-Isabel Aromando enrolled in a certification course to become a health and wellness coach. This course prepares students to take the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching certification exam. She wanted to be able to use her extensive experience in healthcare and public health to help patients navigate chronic illnesses and improve their health status. She lived in Maine where many residents are elderly and wanted to be able to work with this sector of the population so that they could live longer, healthier lives.  Her past position is in healthcare, but she was unable to impact patient experience directly. This funding allowed her to pursue a career interest that became a passion, health, and wellness coaching. She witnessed the impact of chronic conditions on both costs and outcomes for the patients in our healthcare system. Busy providers did not have time for meaningful conversations about healthy food choices, becoming more active, or quitting tobacco.  And as healthcare costs continued to rise and Americans became less healthy, the impact of a health coach could be the difference between a life-limiting chronic illness and living well with a chronic disease. 

Laurel Bliss, A20

As a member of the Tufts Class of 2020, Laurel Bliss was among the first to graduate with a degree in Civic Studies. Their education at Tufts inspired a deep interest in civic education, which requires the ability to have difficult conversations with individuals, communities, and those in positions of power. Laurel currently works with a nonprofit that engages with minority-owned small businesses and partner organizations that are working towards closing the wealth gap and building strong and sustainable communities. As a graduate of the class of 2020, Laurel started their career with the inability to engage in person with colleagues which has been a loss for a number of reasons, including reduced opportunities for formal training. Thus, Laurel used the funding to attend the Essential Partners, (“EP”), Basic EP Facilitation Workshop. EP is a Cambridge-based organization that works at the intersection of community engagement, conflict resolution, culture change, and dialogue. This workshop provides training on the basics of the facilitation model used by Essential Partners. The workshop includes learning EP's tools for having tough conversations and facilitating dialogue. “The Tufts Professional Development Fund provided me an opportunity to connect with facilitation professionals, nonprofit leaders, and academics interested in facilitating meaningful conversations both at work and in daily life. I learned incredible skills related to how to facilitate difficult conversations and how to create an environment where participation is possible, comfortable, and meaningful for all participants. In particular, I learned skills related to how to conduct these conversations virtually, which can add an additional challenge. I am planning to implement these skills at my current role when conducting focus groups with our small business owners. This will allow me to take on additional responsibility and provide additional value to my organization.”- Laurel

Max Greenhouse, A16

Max Greenhouse was a professional Ballroom Dancer, Teacher, and Competition Organizer. Over the past 10 years, Max committed their life to the pursuit of their passion. During their 4 years at Tufts, they became one of the highest-ranked collegiate dancers on the East Coast, served as Team Captain of the Ballroom team their Senior year, helped the team double in size, started a mentorship program for upperclassmen to guide new dancers on the team, and received the Alice E. Trexler Dance Studies Department award in 2016. Their long-term aspiration is to become one of the top 48 competitive dancers in the world. Achieving this standing requires daily practice, physical conditioning, and tens of thousands of dollars in dance training per year.  Max started Ballroom dancing when they were 18 years old while at Tufts. In the Ballroom dance industry, starting at 18 years old is considered about 11 years late. For the last 10 years, they have played catch up. While they have made great headway and were ranked 11th in the country with a recent partner, they wished to increase their training to reach new heights. Thus, Max used the funds from the Tufts Alumni Professional Development fund to allow me to take an additional three private lessons per week for 10 weeks with former World Champion and 10-time undefeated United States Champion Diana McDonald. This funding allowed Max to double the number of lessons they take per week for 10 weeks.

Joayne Larson, J97

Raveena Longia, A19

Ravenna Longia had a background in clinical psychology that started at Tufts. This allowed her to become engaged with many public health initiatives, including serving on President Monaco’s Mental Health Task Force to explore data and evaluate university policies related to mental health trends affecting undergraduate students. She has also volunteered through Sharewood, a health initiative that aims to provide free health services to local communities and completed a senior clinical internship at the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK). Since graduating, she has been working for Boston Medical Center in the Department of Infectious Diseases as a case manager for patients living with HIV and Hepatitis C. Pursuing an MPH was the next step in Ravenna’s goals toward working in the public health field as a program evaluator and researcher, and gaining professional and technical competencies toward a Ph.D. And this educational opportunity was essential in Ravenna’s next steps toward developing her career and furthering her academic experience. Ravenna was committed to pursuing a master’s in public health because she was passionate about creating equitable health programs for marginalized groups that were barred from receiving adequate health care because of language barriers, racism, stigma, and lack of culturally relevant services. Raveena requested funding to help with costs associated with reserving her spot at her top choice school: Yale's School of Public Health.

Allentza Michel, A15

Allentza is an alum of the Urban Planning and Policy program and a small business owner impacted by the effects of the pandemic. They had to cancel their contract with a graphic designer and wanted to enroll in the certificate in Graphic Design program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts to brush up on their graphic design skills, which was much needed to continue to grow their practice. The cost of the program, one of the better and few available to non-degree professionals, was so high that they likely will not be able to participate without financial assistance. The support allowed them to lock in important skills and work opportunities which helped stabilize and eventually grow their business.

Isabella Molina Kiser, A21

Isabella Molina Kiser requested a grant from the Tufts Alumni Professional Development to help fund their application to artist residencies in 2022. She applied for a MacDowell Fellowship in the visual arts as well as a summer residency at the Ox-Bow School of Art. She has never been able to strictly focus on the creative projects she loves most due to the financial strain she would face without a full-time job to support herself thus this grant has helped Isabella transition to arts as a full-time career. “The Tufts Professional Development Fund has supported my visual arts career by providing me the opportunity to attend eTextile Spring Break. This week-long artist residency brings together practitioners working at the intersection of craft, textiles, and electronics. Here, I learned about the basics of circuits, Arduino, and coding and created multiple prototypes that I plan to scale into larger artworks. I made lasting connections with artists and professionals working within eTextiles who I hope to collaborate with in the future. I am so grateful for this opportunity and how this fund has helped me take the leap to pursue my art career full-time.”- Isabella Isabella has received many awards including the Peter J. Wade Scholarship, the Dean’s Research Award, the Joyce McDaniel Sculpture Award, the SMFA Photography Award, and a TUAA Senior Award. Isabella fell in love with the arts while at the Tufts SMFA and this grant helped her pursue her dream of becoming a professional working artist and build her portfolio to apply to an MFA studio art graduate program.

Jonathan Jacob Moore, A17

At Tufts, Jonathan studied American and Africana Studies and founded the Spoken Word Alliance in 2013. Since then, they published a book of poetry, directed a writing fellowship for writers of color, written for Netflix, and ghostwritten for Grammy winners and political candidates. They currently contract for the startup Raheem, an abolitionist software startup building infrastructure for a world without police—one where care providers and mutual aid organizations can quickly dispatch resources to neighbors in crisis. Jonathan planned to use the funds to enroll in Floreo Labs’ 8-week, virtual Lab Accelerator Program (LAP) in order to continue product design, market validation, & business planning for their stealth startup, Cuz.  Floreo Labs specializes in supporting early-stage startups without taking equity and preparing founders with marginalized experiences for success. Jonathan’s mission was simple but substantial: to build the infrastructure for instantaneous Black social life worldwide. Participating in LAP helped them navigate fellowship applications, investor pitching, and team building while they prepared for a major career shift—from professional speechwriter to full-time founder.

Yvane Ngassa, A21

Yvane applied to medical school in the 2022-2023 application cycle, which required a variety of tests and out-of-pocket costs. Without this funding, Yvane could only afford to apply to about 10 schools, but the recommended number of schools to apply to is 15-30. Hence, this funding allowed them to afford to apply to multiple schools, which increased their chances of receiving an acceptance and minimized their chances of undergoing reapplication. Being able to afford to apply to 15+ medical schools expanded their access to schools and opportunities, thus bringing them closer to becoming a medical doctor. Yvane Ngassa served as the co-president of Tufts’ Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS) for two years, where they worked with their peers to bring educational, skills, and self-development opportunities to underrepresented students at Tufts. In addition, they volunteered in Guatemala through TIMMY Global Health, scribing for a pediatrician, taking patient vitals, and working in the make-shift pharmacy. Yvane was also a member of the event planning committee for Relay for Life in Wakefield where they curated an event schedule that honored cancer survivors and fighters, which inspired them to pursue their education in pediatric oncology.

Michael Shah, EG13, EG17

Michael Shah was a professor teaching 6 courses throughout the year who used the alumni professional development fund for travel to the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March of 2022. The Game Developer Conference is the largest conference where students, faculty, and industry professionals meet yearly for academic and professional development in the gaming industry. The conference has lectures, networking events, round table sessions, and student mentorship programs. The last time Michael attended the conference in 2018, he was able to learn and implement changes into his current courses that benefited students by bringing in more modern materials in the teaching curriculum. The network alone that he was able to build in 2018 has helped him connect with industry positions and has resulted in him sending several of his students to co-ops, internships, and full-time roles at these companies. This funding allowed him to attend this influential and career-building conference while also helping his students. This conference potentially opened the position for Michael to become a director of a new program and to create a new post-bac certificate for game development and virtual reality at his current institution.

Deniz Whittier (Gecim), AG16

Deniz Whittier put the funding towards the Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting (FSA) Level 1 & Level 2 Exam. Completing this successfully led to gaining the most meaningful certification in this field, and allowed Deniz to show credentials to clients that have an increasing need for more certifications regarding the sustainability of their business practices. During their formal education, they actively explored the link between finance and social science by obtaining a graduate degree in urban planning while also completing quantitative coursework at Fletcher. This certificate was a step proving that they were keeping up to date on the journey they started on. SLR Consulting (a global engineering firm) hired Deniz for the purpose of completing carbon footprint calculations, and energy efficiency planning for global industrial producers. The FSA SASB credentials enabled Deniz to participate in this new firm as the only one on their team with these credentials.