Senior Profile: Emma Downs inspires change at Tufts through JumboSwipes, Theater

As soon Emma Downs discovered that Massachusetts saw the nation’s highest increase in food insecurity rates during the pandemicShe knew something had to be done.

The idea was simple depths told.

I realized I had 38 [meal] Swipes left and it was a week before the finals.” depths called. “I posted in the POC Jumbos Facebook group, [asking]“Is there a way to donate these swipes to outside organizations?‘”

When depths Realizing that there was no way to donate her food bouquets yet, she decided to take the initiative.

“[I thought]’Okay, I’ll just start with that’” depths called. “I had the idea, I posted on Facebook, put together a group [and] we organized things.”

What Originally started as a social media post, it soon grew into the student-led group JumboSwipes, which continues to address food insecurity in Tufts’ host communities in Medford and Somerville by redistributing student food scrapss.

depths shared how her Instagram post urging community members to donate their food swipes went “semi-viral.”

“I started posting on mine [Instagram] The story was, ‘Hey, these are some stats, I had this idea, anyone want to help?'” said Downs. “Suddenly the school was booming and we received over 500 donation applications.”

depths declared since there are nTo channel the university’s food donations directly to outside organizations, it collected food donations from Tufts students—purchased with their meal cards—and delivered them to local homeless shelters or community refrigerators.

Through it all, Downs underscored that jumbo swipes was a collective, not individual, effort led by members of the Tufts community.

“Anything about how students leave everything they have in their house on my porch to give away, or people volunteering to sit on my porch for an hour during graduation week and sort through food… it’s incredible for me.” said Downs. “Leave food at [the community] fridge and talking to the people who run the fridge and they tell me how much of a difference it makes…it’s inspiring to me.”

Overall, she touched on the meaning of jumbo swipesespecially given their understanding of justice and racial justice in the United States.

“What has always driven me is the goal of having a positive impact on the world and promoting inclusion and justice,” Downs said. “My mother is a diversity consultant, so I’ve always grown up understanding how inequality manifests itself in our institutions and in the world and in our interactions with everyone around us.”

depths added that issues such as food insecurity disproportionate affects the Black and Hispanic communities in Massachusetts. In this context, depths noticed that jumbo swipes is a vehicle through which it can bring about significant changes on the ground for the benefit of society.

“Actually going out into the community and impacting lives in any way is a step forward in solving all the issues that matter to us, [such as] Racial inequality, because much of that inequality is based on racial lines,” Downs said.

on jumbo swipes, depths has pursued a wide range of academic and extracurricular passions over the past four years. She taught one Experimental college course titled Deconstructing Avatar: the Last Airbender, interned for Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz and produced podcasts for the Observer. She has also worked as an intern in data analysis Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life.

However, among her many interests and passions is depths emphasized that the theater scene was her anchor and a constant during her time with tuft.

I’ve been in musicals since I was sixth grade and I’ve been singing since I could speak.“Descents called. “At Tufts, I think [theater] really allowed me to explore [my identity]especially in the last production I acted in, ‘Spring Awakening’ (2006).”

As a Political science and theater and performance science in a double degree, depths can finally see how her diverse interests help her “imagine” and “create” a better world. In this regard depths emphasized the intertwining of politics and art.

“I think all theater is political, and all politics is theater,” Downs said. “Theatre is political because it represents ideas and people… [and] it helps [to] Spreading information and new ways of imagining the world and what is possible. … Art is a fundamental aspect of many political movements, [ranging from] feminist movements in Cuba until now with Black Lives Matter. Art is essential to how we carry political messages and reach hearts and minds.

With such a view depths Contextualized JumboSwipes and her love of theater as part of her desire to promote understanding and therefore her passion for social justice and justice.

Given her outstanding service and leadership skills Downs received this year Presidential Award for Civic Life. Downs also won the prestigious Critical Language Scholarship awarded by the US Department of Stateto study abroad Gwangju, South Korea this summer.

Half-Korean Downs shared that the opportunity to learn Korean language and culture appeals to her personally.

She explained her plans for the future.

“According to [studying in Korea]I have to take a course next semester [at Tufts]’ Downs said. “What I’ll try to do [then] is to audition for theater productions and [have] a day job in something equity related.”

Going forward, Downs hopes to continue to inspire change through her academic and professional endeavors as an extension and result of her journey at Tufts.

“Broadening people’s perspectives through storytelling and art is extremely important to me,” Downs said. “All of my interests revolve around my goal of making this world a better, more inclusive, more understanding and more culturally inclusive place.”

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