Yale College 2023: Meet some of the graduates
We present here short profiles of 14 members of the Yale College Class of 2023, an exceptional group whose accomplishments and contributions have strengthened the Yale campus and the world beyond.
Selected from nominations submitted by residential college heads and deans, these outstanding students studied anthropology and public health, education and finance, computer science and biology. One is an ROTC Midshipman. Another is an accomplished singer and dancer. One is a sculptor who creates innovative land art, while another has honed his skills as a storyteller, particularly through photography, to document life in rural America. When they weren’t in the classroom, they supported local refugee and migrant communities, helped lead Yale athletics to new heights, and worked with educators in Connecticut to bolster anti-racism teaching.
We hope this small but impressive sample offers a sense of the creativity, compassion, and resilience of the undergraduate Class of 2023.
Even as a kid, Nicholas Collyge was fascinated by anthropology. Growing up in northwest Arkansas he’d devour books about the mythologies of different civilizations, trying to learn as much as he could about the world’s cultures and peoples.
At the same time, he was also intrigued by the mysteries of evolutionary biology and genetics. He was able to merge those interests at Yale, where he immersed himself in the study of biological anthropology, a scientific discipline that explores human biology, evolution, and how cultural practices can influence biological responses.
This kind of work, Collyge realized, might shed new light on truths about humankind’s past and future.
“I’d always grown up with an awareness that historical texts could be a little biased in one direction or another,” he says. “It struck me that [this discipline] might offer an incredible way to get closer to the truth.”
During Claire Dalton’s first year as a scholarship wing on the Yale women’s hockey team, the Bulldogs won only eight games. But brighter days were just around the corner.
Over the next three years, including a season as team captain, Dalton helped transform Yale into a national power, leading the program to consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament and its first appearance in the Frozen Four.
Now, fresh off a 28-win season, Dalton recently signed a contract with the Toronto Six, a new franchise in the Premier Hockey Federation.
During his first visit to the Yale campus as a high school senior, Alaman Diadhiou recalls, a student tour guide promised the group of prospective students that they could express all parts of themselves at Yale, that their experience would be one of limitless opportunities.
For Diadhiou — a tap dancer, singer, literature lover, basketball player, and civic-minded citizen of both American and Senegalese heritage — these words were music to his ears.
And, it turns out, the tour guide was right. At Yale, Diadhiou said, he never felt pressure to choose one passion over another, one aspect of his being over another.
“Yale has been one of the few places that respects me holistically,” said Diadhiou, a Benjamin Franklin College senior. “Here, I’m not solely a dancer or a singer or an academic. Yale has been a launchpad for me to express myself in multifaceted, multidisciplinary ways.”
Lukas Flippo left his home in Amory, Mississippi., four years ago to come to Yale, and he brought his whole town with him.
Amory’s people and places, its rhythms and reveries, influenced many of Flippo’s activities at Yale, from the way he shot and edited photographs for the Yale Daily News (YDN) to the joy he brought to his radio work as host of “The States We Call Home” on WYBC.
Flippo, a graduating senior from Ezra Stiles and a first-generation college student, likes to joke that Mississippi “is my brand.” But he also concedes that his home informs his life.
“My passion is local news and the things that happen in everyday life that mean something to us,” he says. “I’m interested in what small communities are doing to re-invent themselves — or not re-invent themselves — over a period of years. That’s what my life’s work will revolve around.”
Dora Guo has always wanted to be a teacher. Now, as the Pierson senior prepares for graduation, she’s surer than ever that a classroom is where she belongs.
This interest led her to Yale’s Education Studies program and to groups like the Anti-racist Teaching and Learning Collective, which collaborates with Connecticut students and educators on anti-bias pedagogy. She has also attended and organized a communities of practice group focused on education, in which local educators convene in their free time to discuss teaching strategies and approaches to discipline, care, and assessment.
“I’ve gotten a lot out of my Education Studies classes,” Guo said, “but there’s nothing like being in the community with people who do this for a living.”
In four years at Yale, Iszac Henig has excelled in a variety of roles. An exceptional athlete on Yale’s swim team, he set multiple Ivy League and pool records and won an individual Ivy League title and All-American honors. An outstanding student, he created a challenging course of study within his major of Earth and planetary sciences.
A dedicated leader, he served as a Communication and Consent Educator (CCE), working with other students to address issues of sexual misconduct.
With such a multi-faceted life on campus, as Henig once wrote, “being trans is one of the least interesting things about me.”
Still, even that aspect of his life has not been entirely ordinary. Given his stand-out role on the women’s swim team, and the burgeoning national debate over trans athletes, he became the focus of national attention when he returned to Yale for his junior year as his authentic self — a man — but decided to remain with the women’s team.
But he wasn’t content to allow others to control the narrative.
Reflecting on his undergraduate experience at Yale, Ryan Huynh says he most appreciates the communities on campus and in New Haven that he poured himself into over the past four years and that, in turn, have supported and cared for him.
The Berkeley senior has volunteered to assist the local refugee and migrant communities through his work with the Migration Alliance at Yale. He worked to prevent sexual misconduct on campus as a participant in the university’s Communication and Consent Educators program. His major, the Program in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration (ER&M), became another vital and enriching community.
“I’ve been so lucky to find these spaces,” he says. “I’ve found a lot of people in all of them who mean a lot to me, and, at the end of the day, the highlight of the past four years is the people I’ve met and built relationships with and learned from.”
It is folly, perhaps, to attempt to categorize or encapsulate the creative force that is Kaloyan Kolev.
Kolev, a Pauli Murray senior majoring in computer science, is a coder, a composer, a graphic designer, an essayist, and a video editor. He is an afficionado of forgotten disco songs, synthesizers, plunderphonics, Internet culture, and the Eurasian golden oriole. Above all, he is a proud Bulgarian.
Although he’d never set foot in the United States before coming to Yale for his first semester in August 2019, some online research gave him a sense that Yale was a place where he could follow each of his intellectual passions equally. And that, he says, proved to be the case.
“I like to use technology to make things, to make art, that makes people think,” Kolev says.
Last summer, while sitting in a rural Guatemalan hospital with a severely twisted ankle after a fellowship spent searching for Mayan pyramids, Diego Miró-Rivera received an incredible email.
Months earlier, he’d reached out to an art collector, asking him to relay a pitch to the artist Andy Goldsworthy: two weeks of apprenticeship work, no salary required. Now, after months of silence, he had his answer. The email he’d been waiting for contained just four words — a location, in Scotland, and a date less than two weeks away.
For Miró-Rivera, a sculptor and land artist, those two weeks of apprenticeship were filled with hard work and long days, assisting the artist to create site-specific work outside with organic materials.
“But it solidified that I want to do this for the rest of my life,” the Trumbull senior says.
As a youngster, Ulystean J. (Jonathan) Oates hoped that he might someday become a neuroscientist.
“But then,” he said, “things happening in the world, like the police killing of Michael Brown when I was in 7th grade, spurred me to start thinking about politics and democracy, and about paying attention to the world around you.”
At Yale Oates has done just that, and more. In addition to studying social reform as a political science major he has gained hands-on experience in effecting change as a member of both the Yale College Council and the Silliman Activities and Administrative Committee. Working to improve life for Yale students, he says, taught him about “how institutions work and the way that you have to reach out to stakeholders and to understand the problem from multiple different perspectives.”
But his desire to improve the lives of others goes farther than just campus life. While Oates enjoys debating the big questions about democracy, he is especially interested in the how’s of political reform, particularly on matters related to racial inequality, political dysfunction, and building sustainable coalitions to deliver change.
As a Yale undergraduate, Alysha Siddiqi followed what may be considered an atypical academic path, choosing to major in political science on the pre-medicine track. But to Siddiqi, this combination seemed like a natural one.
As a woman, a Muslim, and an Oklahoman, she is well aware of how politics can affect lives. Embracing her identity has become fuel for her passion for both politics and medicine.
An important turning point, she says, happened during a discussion in a class on historical perspectives and global health, when she learned about polio vaccine hesitancy in Pakistan, where her parents had grown up before emigrating in their 20s. It was the first time she’d ever heard Pakistan mentioned in an academic setting.
“That sparked my interest in global health because I realized that a lot of global health could serve the communities that I was so invested in,” the Timothy Dwight senior says.
If you ask Jenny Tan where to meet, don’t be surprised if she says at the intersection — of organic chemistry and machine learning, of science and finance, of health care and podcasting, of 52nd and Park.
“It’s a theme I see a lot in my life,” the Saybrook senior, soon to be an investment banker, said of converging domains.
For her, the theme emerged at Yale.
While she majored in science — a double-dose of it: next week she’ll graduate, Phi Beta Kappa, with degrees in chemistry and statistics and data — Tan also followed a current of curiosity about the world of finance piqued by Yale peers’ frequent reference to it. Eventually this led to the realization that she could merge her interests in science, health care, and finance.
Helen Tejada knows most students are loyal to their residential colleges. But to her it’s not a question of loyalty, it’s just a fact: Grace Hopper College is the best.
As a first-generation college student, the tight-knit community she found in the college was transformative. “Sometimes, new students feel lost. And then there’s Hopper.” From the family-style Sunday night dinners to the student advocacy that led to Hopper’s name change in 2017, the blend of tradition and innovation set the tone for Tejada’s time at Yale.
“What we have established is a community of respect and kindness,” she says. “That is why we’re the best college: we choose every day who we are. We aren’t told who we are.”
Catherine Yang had already committed to another prestigious East Coast university when, a few weeks after high school graduation, she received a call from Yale. She was on the waitlist at Yale, but the news that she was suddenly being offered a spot caught her by surprise. Her mind racing, Yang muted her phone and looked at her parents.
“I had five seconds to decide,” Yang remembered recently. “Then I thought, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. I just said, I’m in. Just do it. I unmuted the phone and said ‘yes.’”
The episode offers a glimpse of the self-determination and sense of adventure with which Yang embraces life. During her four years at Yale, Yang tackled a double major, the duties of an NROTC midshipman — and some memorable late-night comedy writing sessions.