Students honored for excellence in classroom, athletic field, and community

Meet the members of the Class of 2022 who distinguished themselves in the classroom, on the field of play, and in their communities.
Yale College 2022 student award winners.
Top row: Kayley DeLay, Azar Swain, Jaelen King, Evan Craig Mingo. Second row: Arya Singh, Mary Elizabeth Orsak, Gabriel Klapholz. Bottom row: Matthew John King, Sarah Ming-Xin Zhao, Chiara Amisola, Alex Whittington

Eleven members of the Class of 2022 who distinguished themselves in the classroom, on the athletic field, and in their communities were honored with top Yale College prize today in one of Class Day’s most treasured traditions. The prizes were awarded by Yale College Dean Marvin Chun and other Yale leaders.

The names of the prizewinners, and their citations, are listed below.

The Nellie Pratt Elliot Award

Awarded to a senior woman whose excellence in the field of athletics, and in her life at Yale, best represent the highest ideals of sportsmanship and Yale tradition.

Kayley DeLay
Kayley DeLay

Kayley DeLay, Morse College

Through hard work and determination, she molded herself into one of the top distance runners in the nation. She is an NCAA cross country all-American. She won an incredible 10th place nationally in cross country. She won back-to-back Ivy League championships in cross country in 2019 and 2021. She was the Ivy League champion in the 3,000 meters in 2020 and 2022. She holds the Yale record in 3,000 meters, 5,000 meters indoors, 5,000 meters outdoors, and 3,000 meters in the steeplechase. She holds the No. 2 all-time mark in the Ivy League in both the steeplechase and the 5,000 meter indoors. She was a 2020 Olympic trials qualifier in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

She did all of this while holding down an environmental engineering major, researching at the School of Public Health, and being an ONEXYS student coach.”

The William Neely Mallory Award

Awarded to a senior man whose excellence in the field of athletics, and in his life at Yale, best represent the highest ideals of sportsmanship and Yale tradition.

Azar Swain
Azar Swain

Azar Swain, Timothy Dwight College

He is one of the all-time great Yale basketball players. He helped lead his team through an incredible season, in which the Bulldogs won 19 games, captured the Ivy League tournament title with a thrilling victory over Princeton, and earned an NCAA tournament bid for the third straight time.

To detail Azar’s help specifically: He played in more games in Yale history than any other Yale basketball player ever—121 games, to be exact. He was a part of four championships: two regular-season and two Ivy tournaments. He averaged 19.2 points per game his senior year. He has a remarkable record of 271 career threes, which is first all-time at Yale. He was Ivy League tournament MVP in 2022 with 1,529 career points. And, he was a finalist for the Lou Henson Award for best mid major player in the country!

Like Kaley, he took a year off during Covid in order to return to help his team have the best possible chance to repeat as Ivy League champions. He earned tremendous respect from opposing coaches and players alike due to his competitive nature and talents on the court and his excellent sportsmanship. And he was, in addition, a fan favorite, someone who garnered the respect and admiration of all Bulldog Fans.”

The Nakanishi Prize

Awarded to two graduating seniors who, while maintaining high academic achievement, have provided exemplary leadership in enhancing race or ethnic relations at Yale College.

Jaelen King
Jaelen King

Jaelen King, Benjamin Franklin College

Jaelen King, a Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology major, is an advocate for social justice and community at both Yale and within the New Haven community.

Jaelen has been an active member of the Black Student Alliance at Yale, Black Public Health Professionals at Yale, and Black Students for Disarmament at Yale. He has also been the primary coordinator of coalition building efforts among cultural centers, across campus, and together with organizations in New Haven.

Through his work, he has amplified the voices of Black women on campus and in New Haven, centered the experiences of Black New Haven in relation to Yale, and advocated for residents' well-being and respectful treatment.

Jaelen is also proud member of the Eta Alpha Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. and was an integral member of the Black Men's Union from his first steps onto campus. He developed a co-curriculum to educate BMU students on masculinity and on racialized gender issues, instituting webinars, a book club, and mentoring to educate his organization and to hold his peers accountable for their actions and their learning, and their future advocacy for the Black community at large.”

Evan Craig Mingo
Evan Craig Mingo

Evan Craig Mingo, Ezra Stiles College

Evan Craig Mingo graduates with distinction in both of his majors, Psychology and Ethnicity, Race and Migration. Within and beyond his academic work, EC has given voice, labor, and leadership to the difficult, often unseen work of social justice.

EC has created workshops on anti-blackness in indigenous communities to support Afro-Indigenous students at the NACC, and he has worked on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives for the Community and Consent Educators program and the department of Psychology. He was selected as a member of the inaugural cohort of the Coalition of Allyship Advocates to develop approaches to enhancing race and ethnic relations on campus. And he also established the student organization BlackOut to provide a space where Black LGBTQIA+ peers could engage with this intersection of identity.

In all his roles on campus, EC has raised questions and issues of discrimination, colorism, transphobia, homophobia, classism and other inequities that might go unaddressed, always to generate critical conversations, strategic planning and reconciliation among his peers.”

The James Andrew Haas Prize

Awarded annually to “that member of the Senior Class in Yale College whose breadth of intellectual achievement, strength of character, and fundamental humanity shall be adjudged by the faculty to have provided leadership for his or her fellow students, inspiring in them a love of learning and concern for others.”

Arya Singh
Arya Singh

Arya Singh, Pauli Murray College

Arya Singh graduates summa cum laude with distinction in her major, History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health, and as an Education Studies Scholar.

Arya was the recipient, last fall, of the Francis Gordon Brown Prize, for her “intellectual ability, high [person]hood, capacity for leadership, and service to the University.”  Throughout her undergraduate career, both in and out of the classroom, Arya has promoted accessibility and equity in healthcare systems, always asking how to humanize medicine and leave fewer patients falling through the cracks. She has inspired peers, mentors, and colleagues through her work with Chapel Haven’s Asperger Syndrome Adult Transition Program, FOCUS, and Disability Empowerment for Yale. As President of the Yale Undergraduate Legal Aid Association, she expanded the organization's reach by forming a partnership with the Connecticut Veterans' Legal Clinic. Beyond Yale, Arya serves on the New Haven Commission on Disabilities, to which she was appointed by the Mayor of New Haven, and her 2020 children's book Courageous Calla and the Clinical Trial offers children a better way to understand informed consent for research studies. Next year, she will finish her Master's in Public Health at the Yale School of Public Health.”

The Warren Memorial High Scholarship Prize

Awarded to the senior majoring in the humanities who ranks highest in scholarship.


The Alpheus Henry Snow Prize

Awarded to that “senior who through the combination of intellectual achievement, character, and personality, shall be adjudged by the faculty to have done the most for Yale by inspiring in his or her classmates an admiration and love for the best traditions of high scholarship.”

Mary Elizabeth Orsak
Mary Elizabeth Orsak

Mary Elizabeth Orsak, Pierson College

Both prizes were awarded to Mary Elizabeth Orsak, who graduates summa cum laude, with distinction in her major, Russian. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa after just four terms of enrollment.

Mary has served in three separate research assistantships ranging widely in form and focus, from the archival study of materials in the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art collections, to the production of web content and graphics on Russian hackers, to the planning of a conference on the use of bodies as a form of protest in Russian and Eastern European performance art. She has also worked as a language tutor in both Russian and Czech in the Yale Center for Language Study, as an Art and Architecture Editorial and Marketing Intern for Yale University Press, and as a Managing and Design Editor for the Yale Review of International Studies.

Mary has long served the community as a volunteer, both at the university and across the city of New Haven. She was a member of the Advisory Committee on Community Policing and Director at Walden Peer Counseling, where she provided anonymous, non-directive peer guidance to other students. She also served for two years as Curriculum Director for Community Health Educators, planning and offering classes on health, wellness, and sexuality to public school students in the city. She has also continued to be involved in her hometown of Dallas, where she founded and serves as President of a nonprofit, Story Power Inc., which is dedicated to improving the lives of young girls through the donation of books about and by inspiring women.

Next year, Mary will pursue a Master of Philosophy in Russian and East European Studies at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.”

The Arthur Twining Hadley Prize

The Arthur Twining Hadley Prize, which honors the memory of the man who served as President of Yale from 1899 to 1921, is awarded annually to the senior in Yale College majoring in the social sciences who ranks highest in scholarship.

Gabriel Klapholz
Gabriel Klapholz

Gabriel Klapholz, Branford College

Gabriel Klapholz graduates summa cum laude with majors in History and in Global Affairs, and with distinction in both of his majors. He has also completed the Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights Studies. As a first-year student, he was awarded the E. Francis Riggs Memorial Prize for distinction in Directed Studies. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in the first election in the fall of his junior year, and he is a 2022 recipient of a Fox International Fellowship.

Beyond the classroom, Gabriel's impact on campus has been widely felt, from his work as Opinion Editor for the Yale Daily News and as a staff writer for the Yale Politic, to his service as the co-president of the Yale Undergraduate Legal Aid Association. An awardee of the Limon Summer Fellowship from the Yale Law School, and an editorial Intern at the Yale Law Journal, Gabriel has shown a dedication to working for equity and justice that will surely have an impact well beyond Yale as well.”

The Russell Henry Chittenden Prize

Awarded annually for the senior majoring in the natural sciences or in mathematics who ranks highest in scholarship. This year’s prize is awarded jointly to Matthew John King of Ezra Stiles College and Sarah Ming-Xin Zhao of Berkeley College.

Matthew John King
Matthew John King

Matthew John King, Ezra Stiles College

Matthew King, a double-major in Physics (Intensive) and Mathematics (Intensive), graduates summa cum laude with distinction in both majors. In his junior year, he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Pi Sigma.

Outside of the classroom, Matt devotes much of his time to creative expression and teaching others: he has served as an Undergraduate Learning Assistant in the Mathematics department, a Course-Based Peer Tutor in the Physics department, and an instructor with Yale Splash. He is an Eagle Scout, the president of the Yale Guild of Bookmakers, and an accomplished writer and musician.

An aspiring professor, Matt has spent the last two summers researching particle physics at the Fermilab in Illinois. He will begin a PhD in Particle Physics at Yale in the fall and has been awarded a fellowship by the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program.”

Sarah Ming-Xin Zhao
Sarah Ming-Xin Zhao

Sarah Ming-Xin Zhao, Berkeley College

Sarah Zhao, a double major in Mathematics and Statistics & Data Science while also completing a simultaneous master’s degree in Statistics & Data Science, graduates summa cum laude and with distinction in both majors. Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year, she is a 2022 Churchill Scholar and winner of the Bishop Berkeley Prize given to the Berkeley College senior who has “best discovered the intellectual potentialities of a university.” She also was named a Barry M. Goldwater Scholar in 2021.

Sarah has conducted research in a variety of areas including theoretical statistics, diffusion geometry and topology, and quantum computing. Beyond the classroom, Sarah has served as co-president of Yale’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, a board member of the Yale Education Tutoring Initiative (YETI), and an undergraduate learning assistant for the Mathematics and Statistics & Data Science departments.

Next year, she will use her Churchill Scholarship to pursue an M.Phil. degree in advanced computer science with a focus on machine learning at the University of Cambridge.”

The Louis Sudler Prize

Awarded to two graduating seniors for excellence in the performing and creative arts.

Chiara Amisola
Chiara Amisola

Chiara Amisola, Saybrook College

Chiara Amisola, a Computing and the Arts Major on the Visual Art track, graduates cum laude and with distinction.

An artist who uses technology to question and contemplate the nature of the virtual world, Chia makes work that treats digital space like a tactile medium, shaping it into something at once foreign and familiar, and that requires audiences, particularly young ones, to acknowledge their complex relationships with their online lives.

Using computer applications, games within games, and social worlds mapped onto real geography, Chia exposes the pervasive, powerful forces of the digital world — both positive and negative — and how they have become some of the most important, most deeply felt aspects of our lives. Much of this work has already made an impact around the world through Chia's non-profit, Developh.”

Alex Whittington
Alex Whittington

Alex Whittington, Pierson College

Alex Whittington, a Music major graduating cum laude and with distinction, is a multi-dimensional performer whose work in the theater and concert hall brings new perspectives to works that cross cultural and social boundaries. 

Alex is a singer, conductor, director, and choreographer who breathes life into music old and new, drawing on their experience in marginalized spaces of Puerto Rican, queer identity as well as a solid grounding in received traditions of music as art. With a range that spans Greek tragedy to Broadway, Alex has created performances that are as technologically accomplished as they are artistically motivated, drawing equally on multi-disciplinary technical expertise and personal journey and demonstrating a serious belief in the relevance and importance of the performing arts in today’s society.”

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Part of the In Focus Collection: Commencement 2022