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 professional figure skater who has competed nationally and internationally in ice dancing for many years. She is Director of a skating school and is also an entrepreneur with her own small 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 also includes an infant and husband) with her studies by reading many of her texts to her baby 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 an American Studies 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 Board of Directors of the Academy of American Poets and chairs the Board of the National Coalition Against Censorship. Michael is married to a novelist and they have two children who are practically the same age as 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 Iraq. Following his military service, Josh enrolled in a community college in California where he graduated as co-valedictorian. He has served as the State Director for California for Student Veterans of America. At Yale, Josh is majoring in Global Affairs and has spent a summer with the Yale Summer Language Program studying Spanish in Ecuador, and recently conducted a research project regarding security in Mexico.  He continues to be active in the veteran community at Yale and serves as Vice President of the Yale Veterans Association. Josh is currently a Senior Fellows Research Assistant at The Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. His favorite classes at Yale have been Reading and Writing the Modern Essay taught by Alyse Graham and Leadership in Operation taught by Gen. (RET) Stanley McChrystal. 




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.