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 Instagram Story provide additional insights about the backgrounds of some Eli Whitney students and what it’s like to be an EWSP student on campus.
After graduation Eli Whitney alumni do remarkable work with their Yale degrees. Explore EWSP alumni profiles.
Originally from Upstate New York, Andrew enlisted in the military in 2014. He served four and a half years as an Army Ranger Team Leader with 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment—deploying once to South Korea and twice to Afghanistan. Since matriculating to Yale as a Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology major, Andrew has served as Co-President of the Eli Whitney Student Society, is a peer mentor with the STARS I Program, and works as a nontraditional student representative for the Yale Undergraduate Admissions office. He also serves as a Co-Director for Service to School and is a volunteer tutor with New Haven Reads and Paper Airplanes. Andrew currently works as a research assistant in the Yale School of Medicine and plans to attend medical school after graduation.
Originally from El Salvador, Alex came to the United States as a young child and was undocumented for most of his life before applying to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As a high schooler, Alex spent most of his time working in food service to help support himself and his family; he was never encouraged to focus on school or grades, he never took the SAT, and he never applied to college. Years later, after getting married and building up enough savings to go back to school, Alex attended community college in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he excelled academically and was encouraged by his professors to apply to competitive four-year programs. After being accepted to Yale through the Eli Whitney Students Program, Alex decided to major in Cognitive Science and pursue research. Thanks to the many research opportunities available at Yale, Alex has been fortunate to work as a lab assistant in the Yale Medical School and as a research assistant in two labs in psychology and neuroscience, respectively. He also tutors inmates at the Manson Youth Institution with the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project (YUPP) on weekends, and in his spare time Alex enjoys exploring New Haven and greater New England with his beautiful wife Anna and his lovable mutt Noodle.
Mary originally hails from Seattle and spent six years in Silicon Valley launching and leading consumer software teams. The products she has built have been used by millions of people in 55 countries and have been covered in the New York Times, USA Today, and TechCrunch. Mary is also an award-winning nature photographer whose photos have been featured in National Geographic. She has traveled to over a dozen countries to document the divide between the urban and natural. In 2018, Mary came to Yale to combine her experience in technology with her passions at the intersection of architecture, sustainability, and the natural environment. She is double majoring in Earth & Planetary Sciences and the Urban Studies track of Architecture. Mary is a Fellow in the Franke Program in Science and the Humanities, where her research focuses on the design and impact of new cities being built from scratch across the globe. In her free time, Mary co-leads a technology group connecting Yale student entrepreneurs with alumni in tech, volunteers with the women of Kappa Kappa Gamma, and photographs the stars with her fiancé, Henry. Their dog, Cassini, is also pursuing a degree at the Yale Canine Cognition Center!
Originally from New Jersey, Kyle spent 16 years as an Olympic athlete on the United States Skeleton team. He competed in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and in 50 World Cup races and numerous World Championships during his career. While competing, Kyle served as an elected athlete representative to several governing bodies including the United States Olympic Committee and the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Board of Directors. After retiring in 2017, Kyle was hired as the head coach of the Japanese Olympic Skeleton team, a role he held through the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. During his skeleton racing career, Kyle worked in the off-season as a professional software developer for InstaViser, a Bay Area startup which builds video mentoring tools. Kyle is majoring in applied mathematics and hopes to attend graduate school in aeronautical engineering and astronautics. He intends to pursue a career with NASA, working on Project Artemis. “The Eli Whitney Students Program has exceeded my high expectations. I feel at home at Yale, and I’m impressed by the curiosity and dedication to excellence I see here every day.”
Originally from Kansas, Allegra enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating high school. Her career began in North Carolina, where she served as an unmanned aerial vehicle plane captain. She also worked as an embassy security guard at various U.S. diplomatic missions in Africa, Asia, and South America. Allegra is attending Yale through a commissioning program and will return to the Marine Corps after graduation. Majoring in Global Affairs, Allegra has enjoyed learning Arabic and taking classes from experienced practitioners. Allegra is active in Yale’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps and played rugby with the women’s club team.
Hailing from Brooklyn New York, Avrohom originally never intended to pursue higher education. He enlisted the Army in 2013 just after graduating high school. While he served as a satellite network coordinator, he began taking classes at his local community college where he discovered his passion for learning. After completing his time in the Army, he worked for just under two years at OneWeb, a small aerospace start-up, before matriculating into Yale. After taking a wide variety of courses, Avrohom decided to major in Global Affairs. He is also active in various student organizations that focus on veteran’s advocacy, effective altruism, and outdoor activities. During his free time, he enjoys biking, climbing, and running in Connecticut’s beautiful outdoors, as well as enjoying the wonderful food, sights, and sounds that New Haven has to offer.
Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Rachel entered the workforce straight out of high school to help support her family. She worked in numerous fields including retail, public libraries, and office administration. Upon turning 30 she enrolled at her local community college, intending to study elementary education. Her academic journey took a turn when she discovered a passion for mathematics, and under the mentorship of the college’s faculty and staff she developed a new goal: a career in higher education in a STEM field. Through involvement in the honor society Phi Theta Kappa, she learned about the Eli Whitney Program at Yale. Rachel received her acceptance email en route to her community college commencement, which made for a very memorable evening! Since matriculating at Yale in 2019 she has explored challenging courses in both Mathematics and Physics. She serves as an officer in her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and a student leader at the Joseph R. Slifka Center on campus. Rachel also works as an Academic Strategies Mentor at the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, where she helps fellow students navigate the academic landscape at Yale.