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 mid-twenties to fifties. In addition to the profiles below, a YTV video and a Yale Herald article may provide you with a better sense of the backgrounds of some Whitney students. The descriptions below of a few current students illustrate the diversity of life experiences that Whitney students bring to the Yale community.


An immigrant from South Korea, Moses came to the United States when he was eight years old. Upon graduating from high school in California, Moses enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his four-year service as an Amphibious Assault Vehicle Technician, he was deployed twice. After completing his military service, he returned home to San Jose where he enrolled full time at a local community college while working as a barista. At Yale, Moses is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Political Science with an academic interest in International Political Economics. He hopes to pursue a career in finance. He is President of the Eli Whitney Student Society, a board member at Yale THINK (There is Hope in North Korea), and an ambassador for Service to School. Moses has found his Yale experience to be intellectually stimulating and rewarding. He says, “I have never once felt out of place at Yale, and the open social environment has allowed me to share my experiences and culminate meaningful relationships with students and faculty alike.


Originally from the tiny island of New Providence in The Bahamas, Wellington moved to New York in 2002. Prior to attending Yale, he co-founded a non-profit organization that delivered food to the needy and the homeless. The program has blossomed into a bustling community food pantry that serves approximately 400 individuals on a weekly basis and it has forged partnerships with larger organizations in New York City to lead the fight against hunger. Wellington transferred to the Eli Whitney Students Program from a community college and is currently studying Political Science with a research focus on Public Policy and International Human Rights. He plans to conduct research on the Coase Theorem and its application to international humanitarian intervention. Wellington is married and raising two children while being an Eli Whitney student. Of his Yale experience, Wellington says, “What I have found most special about this institution, aside from its challenging intellectual environment, is the ease with which one can form new and productive relationships. Every student and faculty member that I have come into contact is trying to be better at solving important problems, but they are also willing to help me to be better as well. This is a distinguishing characteristic of Yale that I do not take for granted.”


A native Oregonian, Frances pursued a career as an internationally certified snowboard instructor in the U.S. and in Europe after graduating from high school. When she returned to Oregon, Frances was diagnosed with brain cancer and underwent several surgeries. During the intensive rehabilitation process she began volunteering at local non-profit media and contemporary art organizations which led her to work on large-scale art installations and film projects. She later enrolled at a community college where she discovered her interest in refugee issues, particularly in the design of more humane and sustainable refugee camps and international integration policies. Frances is currently majoring in Political Science, with a concentration in refugee and migration studies at Yale. She has benefited from Yale courses that took her to Morocco and Greece, where she was able to learn directly from organizations working with refugees and migrant communities. By complimenting her rigorous coursework with frequent excursions to New Haven’s many museums, community centers, and film screenings, Frances feels she is receiving a stimulating liberal arts education from which she is building a meaningful career.


A hairstylist by trade, Matthew moved to New York from Los Angeles in 2010 to build a fast-paced career on Madison Avenue. While maintaining a professional life abutting the fashion and entertainment industries, he enrolled full time at a local community college, where he earned his Associate’s degree, graduating with honors in 2014. At Yale, Matthew is pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in political science, with a focus on urban studies. Interested in marginalized communities and cities in developing countries, he has conducted field research in New Haven at the graduate-course level, spent the summer of 2015 in a research program at the University of Oxford, and undertaken a semester abroad in Buenos Aires to develop a research project for his senior thesis at Yale. He has sat on the board of the Eli Whitney Student Society and a discussion group called the Intellectual Knockers. Matthew says he is drawn to Yale’s tightknit community of engaged students because it’s an inexhaustible sounding board for ideas. 


After graduating high school, Hillary enlisted in the Navy. She served for almost six years as a mass communication specialist (journalist), working as a news producer for the American Forces Network in Sasebo, Japan and Afghanistan. In 2016, while underway with the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, she applied to the Eli Whitney Students Program. She is currently majoring in Political Science. What she enjoys most about Yale is having the opportunity to learn directly from subject matter experts. Her favorite classes include “Ethics and the Law” taught by Connecticut Superior Court Judge Karen Goodrow, and “Comparative Constitutional Law” taught by Professor Steven Calabresi. She currently serves as a volunteer ambassador with Service to School, is a member of the William F. Buckley Program and a nontraditional student representative for the Yale Undergraduate Admissions office. Hillary plans to attend law school after she graduates from Yale with the intention of practicing criminal law and assisting with criminal law reform.