Eli Whitney Student Profiles

What are Eli Whitney students like? This is a difficult question to answer because there is no “typical” student in the Eli Whitney Students Program. They come from all walks of life. They are entrepreneurs, community or social activists, veterans, parents, business professionals, and they range in age from their mid-twenties to fifties. The profiles below of a few current students illustrate the diversity of life experiences that Whitney students bring to the Yale community.


A Computing and the Arts major at Yale, Jennifer is a former professional figure skater, having competed nationally and internationally for the United States in ice dancing for many years. She is the owner and director of a skating school and is also an entrepreneur with her own small costuming business. Jennifer grew up in Texas but has lived in many parts of the US and abroad. Jennifer is trilingual, speaking English, Russian and Italian fluently. She balances life off-campus (which includes two young sons and her husband) with her studies by reading many of her texts to her kids at bedtime. She loves the culture of Yale and the lack of stigma so often applied to older students at other colleges. Her favorite perk of the Yale experience is the Master’s Teas which provide opportunities for Yale students to meet in small groups with guest speakers who are leaders in their fields.



Michael graduated from high school in 1969 but left college after two years at two different institutions. He currently juggles being a History major at Yale and being the chief executive officer of a $100-million independent book publishing firm in New York City. Michael is also on the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Academy of American Poets and chairs the Board of the National Coalition Against Censorship.  He also serves on the Board of Governors of Yale University Press.  Michael is married to a novelist and they have two children who are now older than many of his undergraduate colleagues at Yale. After an almost 40 year hiatus from higher education, in his first semester back at school he took two seminars, “Shakespeare and the Canon: Histories, Comedies, and Poems” and “Rivers: Nature and Politics” with two Sterling Professors at Yale. Michael calls Yale a “Disneyland for Brainiacs" and the Eli Whitney Students program "an experience that has changed and enriched my life."


A native Texan, Josh enlisted in the Navy at the age of seventeen and was deployed on tours to South America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Following his military service, Josh enrolled in a community college in California, where he graduated as co-valedictorian and served as the State Director of California for Student Veterans of America. At Yale, Josh majored in Global Affairs and spent his summers conducting research and studying in Mexico and Latin America. For the nearly the entire duration of his time at Yale, Josh worked as a Senior Fellows Research Assistant at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, where he assisted Emma Sky, Dr. Michelle Malvesti, Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General (RET.) Stanley McChrystal. Josh graduated from Yale in 2013. He currently works as a leadership & management consultant with General (RET.) McChrystal, who also previously taught Josh in his seminar, Leadership in Operation, at Yale.



Before coming to Yale, Lauren was a successful fashion model and small business owner. Lauren's journey to New Haven began in the summer of 2008 when her son, a Princeton senior at the time, tutored her in modern American fiction and essay writing. Her son was instrumental in encouraging Lauren to attend community college where she earned Summa Cum Laude Honors. She then attended another Ivy League institution prior to transferring to Yale’s Eli Whitney Students Program. Lauren chose Yale for its undergraduate solidarity and personal academic culture. She loves Yale because of her interactions with students and faculty members and she says, "I am constantly humbled and exhilarated by how freely and eagerly my professors share their time and knowledge."  Since joining Yale, Lauren has immersed herself in the college community. Along with her fundraising work for Dwight Hall at Yale, the largest campus-based student-run service organization in the country, she serves in the big-sibling mentoring program for incoming freshman. Lauren graduated from Yale in 2014 and you can view her Class Day speech here.


After graduating from high school, Chris started a career in music. Following a 6-year hiatus from his education, he returned to college where he received leadership and writing awards, founded an Economics Club, and served as president of the college's Philosophy Club. After obtaining his Associate’s degree, Chris transferred to Yale’s Eli Whitney Students Program. In addition to being an Ethics, Politics and Economics major at Yale, Chris is a music producer and business manager of a film company. Of his Yale experience, Chris says “My question-and-answer-seeking process has been every bit as stimulating and challenging as I had hoped not only because my professors at Yale are incredible lecturers and culture-shaping intellectuals, but also because my classmates and friends here share my passion for learning and offer their own unique questions and answers. Since arriving at Yale I have come to see the world in a new way. I have developed new goals that my experiences at Yale have both inspired and prepared me to accomplish."