Why I Give to the Tufts University School of Medicine

Married couple Aristides “JR” Cruz, A02, M06, and Ashley Peterson, A03, M12, share a passion for medicine—and for giving back.
Cruz and Peterson

Aristides “JR” Cruz and Ashley Peterson with their Shih Tzu Boomer.

Cruz and Peterson met as undergraduates on Tufts’ cross country and track teams, but being three-season athletes was not the only thing they had in common. Both envisioned medical careers. Cruz got off to a fast start; through the university’s early decision option, he was accepted to Tufts School of Medicine as a sophomore. Peterson would ultimately shift her studies to history, and after graduation, work in marketing and advertising. But as she watched Cruz’s journey through medical school unfold, she rekindled her own dream to be a doctor, and fulfilled pre-med requirements at Harvard Extension School. In 2008, she was thrilled to be admitted to the medical school.

Today, the couple (and parents of a two-year-old) have found fulfilling careers in health care, Cruz as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, RI and Peterson as maternal-fetal medicine specialist with Tufts Medical Center. Their paths to professional success reflect a shared passion for medicine, but also a strong system of support at both the college and medical school. “Students really love Tufts and Tufts really cares about their students,” Peterson said. “I felt cared for every step of the way.”

Loyal Givers Cruz and Peterson show their abiding gratitude to the medical school in part through philanthropy; they have been loyal supporters of the annual fund for some 16 years. “We feel like the institutions that educated us deserve our support,” Peterson said. “I feel very strongly about that.” They are particularly committed to giving to funds and programs that directly enrich the lives of students. When they were asked to give to the anatomy lab, they didn’t hesitate. “We thought it would be nice to complement the education that we received with resources that students can really benefit from,” Cruz said.

Every Gift is Jumbo The couple have also contributed to the Stethoscopes for Students program, through which donors provide incoming students with a stethoscope and personal note. “Giving doesn’t have to be a big dollar amount to directly impact students for the rest of their career,” Peterson said. “You can give what you can and you can give the time that you have. What’s important is that you give for a lifetime so that the institution continues to grow and flourish.”

Participation Matters For Cruz and Peterson, donating their time is also a gift they enjoy giving. Both were reunion volunteers and Cruz serves on the Tufts Medical Alumni Association Executive Council. “We like to be involved – to be around the institution and the students,” said Peterson. “We had a great experience and I think Tufts makes fantastic doctors. We want to make sure that that continues.” Added Cruz: “Participation shows you care.”