Fighting Disaffection

Bess Dopkeen, A04: Creator of CASE Mentor Program
Bess Dopkeen, A04

Bess Dopkeen, A04: CASE Mentor Program Creator, Alumni Chapter Leadership Award Winner

Tufts is a major part of who I am today. I graduated from Tufts in 2004 with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Africa and the New World. I have great memories of my time there, and as a member of Tufts Wilderness Orientation, Tufts Mountain Club, Tufts Democrats, and the Women’s Rowing team.

After studying under amazing professors like Dean Jim Glaser and Malik Mufti, I came to D.C. on the Tufts Dutko Fellowship, under the mentorship of Trustee Deb Jospin, J80, A14P. The program matched Tufts graduates with internships in public policy management to help them build networks to get their first job in Washington, D.C. in politics, media, or nonprofits. Deb took me under her wing, gave me my first job working on labor standards in Africa and Asia, and introduced me to many alumni.

That year Rachel Hoff, A04, and I attended our first Tufts Alumni Washington, D.C. board meeting and we were hooked. We spent years on the board as membership and communication directors. Following my fellowship year I had the opportunity to work in the Pentagon, where I’ve been ever since. In appreciation of the amazing friendships, networks, and opportunities to which the Dutko Fellowship introduced me, a few alumni and I started a mentorship program for the many students who arrive in D.C. each summer.

We created the Tufts Alumni Mentorship Network (TAMN), formerly the Connecting Alumni and Student Experiences (CASE) program-the D.C. arm of the Tisch Summer Fellows program. We paired Tufts students with alumni mentors in D.C., and find summer internship opportunities for students with alumni in their offices across the city. We work with Tisch College and the Tufts University Alumni Association to fund and run the summer program and offer students alumni-hosted career panels.

 The program has been running for a decade and is still open to students and graduating seniors who have summer internships in D.C., whether through the Tisch Summer Fellows or by independently securing them. Each student is paired with two mentors, chosen based on shared interests and experiences, who can give them advice on adjusting to the area and navigating their professional careers in Washington. The students attend alumni- hosted career panels, participate in civic service events, and attend networking functions.

One part of the fellowship program that has become increasingly important to me are the interns we host at my employer, the Pentagon. Last year, we hosted a record number of 13! My dream is to have students continue to flock to D.C. and move here after college to pursue their careers in public service. In a time when many people are becoming disaffected with government, I’m proud to see Tufts students who are still dedicated to making a difference for our country.

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