First days at Yale

New students discuss their new lives.

Interviews conducted, condensed, and edited by Cathy Shufro

Mark Ostow

Mark Ostow

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Noora Reffat ’19
Lindenhurst, Illinois
Berkeley College

How many courses are you shopping?

Six. I’m STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math], so there are a ton of options.

How do you know already that you’re STEM?

I’ve always wanted to do pre-med. When I was younger, every time my siblings and I would play house and what-not, I’d always want to be the doctor. In high school, that turned into me watching a lot of Grey’s Anatomy.

Very realistic.

(Laughs.) But then I started volunteering and found out I really enjoyed it. I’d like to go into trauma surgery.


I like to be on my feet. I’m not a desk person. Trauma surgery will always have a problem for me to solve and will keep me engaged.

Mark Ostow

Mark Ostow

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Sadé Kammen ’19
Oakland, California
Saybrook College

Vimbai Ushe ’19
Rochester, New York
Branford College

How did you two meet?

Vimbai: We met at Cultural Connections. We just saw each other and we started talking, and we’ve been together ever since.

Sadé: It’s been two weeks now.

Vimbai: We live right across from each other. We can see each other from our rooms!

What’s Cultural Connections?

Sadé: That’s a pre-orientation program that promotes diversity and the end to racism and sexism. We talked a lot about implicit biases that we didn’t know we have.

Vimbai: [Also about] microaggressions that some people might unknowingly perpetuate.   

What’s been the most fun thing so far?

Sadé: I went to a class today and I loved it. I love school and I love academics, but I’ve never had such a fun time with academics before, seeing how excited professors are and how excited other students are.

What was this class?

Sadé: Topics in Cancer Biology. It’s a freshman seminar with Sandy Chang [professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry]. He’s actually an MD/PhD. As someone who wants to be pre-med and wants to be a doctor, it’s really cool to see that you can both do medicine and be involved in the academic side. So that’s been really, really awesome.

You got in?

Sadé: Yeah, I did. I wrote a very long plea and e-mailed him this summer. I was so into this course.

Vimbai: I’m doing a double major in global affairs and film in the pre-law track. I have a freshman seminar, Dance on Film, at four o’clock. I love film; I screenwrite; I’ve been acting since I was four. I want to try getting my screenplays out there, but I just turned 18 and I couldn’t submit them to any competitions because I was underage. Hopefully maybe this or next summer I’ll be able to produce one of my screenplays into a film.

As a screenwriter or as an actor?

Vimbai: I want to be an entertainment lawyer or own my own production company and television network. I want to be like Oprah Winfrey and own the whole industry.

Mark Ostow

Mark Ostow

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Hazen Mayo ’19
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Branford College

Which class are you most looking forward to?

[A class on] South African writing about apartheid. It’s a freshman seminar—literature but also history.

What do you think you might major in?

I’m actually the most undecided of the undecided. I’m thinking about biology, history, literature.

So are you taking biology?

Luckily I just got in today to Bio 101. It’s the most popular lecture, I think, besides economics. They’re capping it at 200 because 400 kids have been applying each fall.

Do people think you’re exotic because you’re from Minnesota?

Oh, yeah. It’s quite funny. We actually have a Minnesota Club. Minnesotans stick together; we support each other. We do have our slogan, which is “Minnesota nice”— I have a sticker of it on my laptop—because apparently people from Minnesota are absurdly nice!

Mark Ostow

Mark Ostow

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Zachary Nolan ’17
Medfield, Massachusetts
School of Management 

Tell me some of the highlights so far.

Getting to know my learning team—eight MBA students who you take all your classes with during your first year. You do projects together. You work together out of class on problem sets.

What’s the rationale for that?

I’m guessing because teamwork is so important in today’s workplace that they want you to have a chance to model that here. They mix genders, where you’re from, what you’ve been doing, and what you want to do. So it forces you to work with people who are not like you. A big part of this is how open you are—definitely to other people, and also to yourself.  

People use the word “leadership” a lot. What do you think it means?

People think of the person at the front of the classroom or the CEO. [But] you could say responsibility to others—setting the right example.

Mark Ostow

Mark Ostow

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Tobi Storz
Karlsruhe, Germany
Visiting student in Mechanical Engineering

What are you exploring academically here?

I’m doing a research project in [Assistant Professor] Eric Brown’s lab. We’re investigating shear-thickening fluids. It’s fluid dynamics, kind of: the behavior of the material is not quite understood.

What material?

It’s a solution of cornstarch and water.

It sounds so basic.

It’s crazy, yeah. It looks like it’s going to be a fun time there. [It might be used for] protective gear—maybe in a helmet for cyclists.

Made of corn starch?

It behaves like a fluid when it’s not stressed, but, when it’s stressed, really quick becomes harder and harder. So you can run on it—but you can’t walk on it because you would sink in. Maybe you’ve seen some videos. Just type in “walking on cornstarch.”

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