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.
After graduation Eli Whitney alumni do remarkable work with their Yale degrees. Gregg Gonsalves ’11, ‘17 Ph.D. was recently awarded a MacArthur “Genius” award for his pioneering work at the intersection of human rights and public health.
In addition to the profiles below, a YTV video and a Yale Instagram Story may provide you with a better sense of the backgrounds of some Eli Whitney students and what it is like to be a student on the Yale campus.
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 Texas, Nicholas moved to New York City in 2009 to follow his interest in photography. After working in both the photojournalism and fashion photography industries, Nicholas returned to education. From there he became certified to teach English as a second language and soon began to teach recent immigrants in the city. During this time, Nicholas enrolled in a local community college where he majored in mathematics and published environmental research. Since matriculating to Yale as a computer science major, Nicholas has collaborated with the Yale School of Architecture to develop an application for the Venice Architecture Biennial and launched his own privacy-centric social network. He has also developed a strong interest in the legal and social challenges created by technology and hopes to focus on these as he continues his time at Yale.
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.
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 Geology & Geophysics 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. He is the current head coach of Team Belgium. 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 at Yale, 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 technician. 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 Marine Corps commissioning program and will return to the operating forces upon graduation. Majoring in Political Science, Allegra has enjoyed the variety of courses offered at Yale, as well as the opportunity to learn from experienced practitioners. Additionally, she says “the unique opportunities to interact with professors and students across different disciplines” is what has made Yale special. Allegra is active in Yale’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, conducts research at the Political Violence FieldLab, and is a nontraditional student representative for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.