FOCUS First-Year Orientation CommUnity Service

Focus logo

FOCUS is a five-day Pre-Orientation for incoming first-years focused on critical service learning. During FOCUS, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know Tufts, the Greater Boston Area, and your fellow Jumbos all the while creating meaningful relationships with the communities around us.

During FOCUS, you’ll commit to engaging responsibly and actively to support the needs identified by Tufts' host communities and its representatives. You’ll work in an area of your interest along with a group with other incoming students and two upperclassmen leaders.

If you have any questions please feel free to email us at or check out our Instagram, @tuftsfocus. We hope to see some of you in August!


Service Themes

Food Insecurity

We work with soup kitchens, food banks, and community kitchens to feed and distribute food to those who need it. Past sites have included: Meals 4 Medford, Bread of Life, and Community Servings.

Housing Insecurity

We work in homeless shelters and help out with the day-to-day work. This may include sorting clothes, making beds, and preparing for meals. Past sites have included halfway houses, food pantries, the Medford Housing Authority, Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program, and Victory Programs Incorporated


We do hands-on work to help keep Boston green and beautiful. Often, these groups work in parks such as the Friends of the Middlesex Fells, and Groundwork Somerville, on the Mystic Watershed. Weather permitting, your group will spend much of its time outdoors.

Youth Advocacy

We work with organizations that benefit children throughout Boston through community and educational development. Past groups have worked with organizations like local schools in the Somerville/Medford area and Cradles to Crayons, which helps Boston-area children get the school supplies they need.

Disability Justice Advocacy

Our special needs group, Giving Camp, runs special programming for people with special needs for five days. This intensive experience includes training and has been described as exceptionally rewarding by past participants.


We do the hands-on work of sprucing up the built environment throughout Boston as well as work to support local communities. Projects include community service at local schools and community organizations and the work varies from light construction and environmental maintenance to helping local Somerville teachers prepare for the upcoming school year. Previous organizations have included SCALE, the Somerville Community Growing Center, and the Medford Public Library


We work with organizations that focus on the wellbeing of elderly citizens in locations like the Somerville Home. Past sites include Medford Council on Aging and the Mystic Valley Elder Services. If you’re a people-person, you have the skills we’re looking for.

LGBTQ+ Advocacy

We work with local organizations that advocate for the local LGBTQ+ community. In the past, we’ve worked with On The Rise, The Network/La Red and The Tufts LGBT Center.

Arts Advocacy

We work with local artists and arts organizations that strive to build community through the arts and social justice. Past sites include Outside the Lines Studio, The Dance Complex, and Theatre@First.

Racial Justice Advocacy

The Racial Justice Advocacy group works with community organizations in the Boston area working to provide people of color with dedicated services such as youth groups and senior centers. Past sites have included the Medford Diversity Office, MassVote, and The Welcome Project.

2024 Student Coordinators

Luca O'Neil Headshot


Luca O'Neil, 2026

Luca is a rising junior from Weston, CT studying Biochemistry and Biotechnology. He participated in FOCUS as a First-Year, and returned this past summer as a Support Staffer. Around campus, you can find him behind the front desk at the JCC, having breakfast at Carm, or taking a nap. If you ever see him, show him a photo of your dog!

Katie's Headshot

Katie Kostak, 2026

Katie is a rising junior from Mountain Lakes, New Jersey majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Computer Science. She participated in FOCUS as a first-year and as a support staff and is so excited to welcome incoming freshmen with FOCUS! When not solving for the acceleration of a moving object, she can be found playing violin in the Tufts Symphony Orchestra or playing with the club tennis team!

Ananya's Headshot

Ananya Khedkar, 2026

Ananya is a rising junior from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, majoring in American Studies with a minor in Political Science. She participated in FOCUS as a first-year student and support staff, and loves working with the FOCUS community! On campus, she’s a part of Tufts Pulse —Tufts’ premier Indian classical dance team — and Tufts Labor Coalition. You can always find her in the dance practice rooms, getting her third coffee of the day from The Sink, or napping on the couch in the Women’s Center!

Program Advisor

Calvin Zhao

Student Programs Administrator- Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life

Calvin is the Student Programs Administrator at Tufts’ Tisch College of Civic Life. In his role, he directs the Leadership for Social Change program, advises FOCUS and Tisch-affiliated student groups, and manages the Tisch Fund for Civic Engagement among other responsibilities. Prior to assuming this role, Calvin coordinated the Tufts 1+4 and Tufts Civic Semester global programs at Tisch, supporting students as they engaged in community-based work abroad. Calvin also worked for 3 years at NYU Shanghai, a sino-US joint venture university in Shanghai, China, involved in various student support and community engagement roles. Outside of work, Calvin is busy pursuing his MA in Diversity and Inclusion Leadership at Tufts and spending time outdoors, when he can!



Program Dates: August 23 - August 27

A Typical Day of FOCUS

An example on what we might do on any given day based on past years’ programs

7 a.m. - 8 a.m.Wake up, have breakfast, pack lunch
8 a.m. - 9 a.m.Travel to first site
9 a.m. - 12 p.m.First volunteering site
12 p.m. - 1 p.m.Lunch
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.Second volunteering site
4 p.m. - 5 p.m. Travel back to Tufts
5 p.m. - 6 p.m. Shower in residence halls
6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Dinner with community
8 p.m. - 11 p.m. Evening programming

Contact Us

FOCUS | 617-627-0589

The transition to college was something I very anxiously awaited and I had anticipated a lot of struggle. The peers and friends that I had met during FOCUS allowed me to have the most positive transition. It was such an amazing opportunity to meet future classmates, friends, and upperclassmen. FOCUS being a civic-engagement based Pre-Orientation program teaches incoming students the importance of giving to our community. Life is all about balance and FOCUS reminds us that in order to keep our balance here in our community, we owe it to others to reflect, help out where we can and spread love. I really enjoyed every second of it and recommend FOCUS for all incoming freshmen!

Michael Cox - Class of 2025

FOCUS was such a lovely introduction to civic engagement and the student community at Tufts. My FOCUS dinners my first year were a core part of my experience. The Tisch College community has really pushed me to explore my identity and how I can engage meaningfully with Tufts’ host communities and the greater Boston community.”

Kyrielle Lord, Class of 2024

FOCUS was one of the best ways to start off my college experience, and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to stay involved throughout my time at Tufts! Not only do you get to make amazing new friends and memories as well as become more familiar with the Boston area, you’re able to gain a greater awareness for and start getting engaged in the Medford/Somerville community where we spend so much of our college years.

Ishan Ahuja, Class of 2023