Jan 29, 2015

How My Tuck Exchange Experience Helped Me Think about the Leader I Want to Become

By Terry Levine, T'EX

Terry Levine is an exchange student from the Fletcher School at Tufts University where he is working on a master's in law and diplomacy. He grew up in suburban New Jersey and graduated from Tufts with a BA in international affairs and philosophy. Prior to graduate school, he received a fellowship to live/work in Germany and helped run an international development nonprofit in India. Most recently, he worked for a public relations firm specializing in economic development and tourism marketing where his clients included Namibia, the US Virgin Islands, and California. Outside of school/work, Terry enjoys running, travel, and listening to NPR (especially the Serial podcast).

In September 2014, I arrived in Hanover. My brother’s Volkswagen station wagon was fully packed with items from suits to a mountain bike, polished loafers in dust bags, to hiking boots that were just plain dusty from years of disuse. 

For the fall term, I came to Tuck as an exchange student from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy where I am pursuing a master's in international affairs. I wanted to further my international business knowledge and immerse myself in the Tuck community. Over the course of my four-month exchange program, I built strong bonds with students, faculty and staff, enrolled in challenging coursework, and experienced life in the woods.

From day one, the community welcomed my fellow exchange students and me as Tuckies. In classes, extracurricular activities, and drinks at Murphy’s (a local hangout) people were genuinely interested in our stories and interests; Tuck collegial nature makes it a truly inclusive environment. I also became involved with Tuck Pride, the school’s LGBT group. In October, club members headed to San Francisco for Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA), a conference for LGBT business students. Speakers and conference sessions motivated us to think about our careers as well as our potential for positive impact. It was great to be part of the Tuck ROMBA delegation and represent the school.

My courses at Tuck touched a variety of fields including marketing, leadership, operations, and finance. One course in particular, "The CEO Experience," had a lasting impact on how I think about leadership. Taught by former New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, our class went through cases from the private and nonprofit sectors. We discussed Rudi Giuliani’s response to 9/11, the founding of Keurig, and the turnaround of American Express in the 1990s. Governor Lynch pressed students to look beyond the details of cases and think about what values motivate leaders to build organizations, respond to crisis situations, and inspire others. The course helped me think deeply about the leader I want to become.

Speaking to life in New Hampshire, I have never considered myself outdoorsy. Growing up, my dad tried to get my brother and I to camp in our backyard. Unfortunately, the experiment lasted about two hours; we did not like the bugs or lumpy ground. That said, in coming to Tuck I decided to ditch my moderately trendy New York wardrobe for a couple months of Patagonia fleece and hiking boots. This "experiment" was great.  I’ve never hiked, run, or biked so much in my life. I even joined a novice rowing class. Dartmouth’s location an issue, for me, was a great departure from city life and a nice supplement to classroom learning.

Simply put, my decision to join Tuck for a semester was a great one. I return to Tufts with countless professional and personal connections, exposure to a unique learning environment, and an excitement for what lies ahead in my professional career. If you get a chance to spend time in Hanover, I would definitely recommend it.

Photo above: National Coming Out Day at Tuck.