First days at Yale: 2019

Interviews with new students.

Interviews conducted, condensed, and edited by Cathy Shufro

Mark Ostow

Mark Ostow

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Amma Otchere ’23
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Davenport College

Do you have a major in mind?

I’m pre-med, so I’ll probably be doing molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. I’m also really interested in the history of science, medicine, and public health. I’m taking a class this semester called Sickness and Health in African American History, and it’s my favorite class.

How will studying history serve you as a doctor?

I think it’s really important to be aware of the history when you’re meeting patients from different backgrounds, and how that affects them. Particularly with African Americans, because of present-day health disparities and how they connect to history.

Did you bring anything special with you from home?

I keep all the cards that everyone has ever written me. I painted a chest before I left home and put them all in there—all the birthday cards, thank-you cards, graduation cards. When I’m feeling down, I’ll read them.

Are you thinking of doing anything here that you didn’t get a chance to do in high school?

Yeah, this weekend I have tryouts for West African dance. My parents are from Ghana, so I feel like that will make me feel a little bit closer to my culture.


Mark Ostow

Mark Ostow

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Aris Katafygiotis ’23
Thessaloniki, Greece
Berkeley College

What are your academic interests?

I hope to pursue a double major in physics and economics. I’m in Physics 180, first-year Russian, Econ 110, and Intro to Global Affairs. I’ve always been heavily STEM-oriented, and a class like Global Affairs is very new to me. I’ll definitely be taking more classes outside my immediate academic interests in the future.

Do you have any extracurriculars in mind?

I’m on the men’s heavyweight crew, and most days we practice twice a day. I wanted to go into Model UN, debate team, or robotics club, but those commitments interfere with crew. I do participate in many Independent Party debates and meetings. Extracurriculars here are overwhelming, to say the least. It’s like walking into a candy shop as a kid: you might want to try everything, but if you do, you’ll probably go into cardiac arrest.

Do you feel a bond with your teammates?

Most definitely. We have a lot of freedom to do what we want, so this forces a strong sense of responsibility on us as individuals and as a team. Yale has been first in the country for the past three years, so the team environment is incredibly competitive, and yet very supportive. To put it short, the guys on my team are ride or die.


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Ryan Murray ’21MM
Austin, Texas
School of Music

What instrument do you play?

Trombone. I started in sixth grade. And then in eighth grade, when I was 13, I was like, “I want to do this for the rest of my life. As my job.”

What do you like about it?

Just playing is so much fun. And I feel like everybody likes music, so it’s one way that I can connect with people. I play a variety of other instruments, so music is my main passion; trombone is just how I do it.

What other instruments?

Euphonium, tuba. Euphonium uses the same mouthpiece as a trombone, but it’s got valves or buttons [instead of a slide]. It’s like a small tuba. And I play guitar, bass, drums. I sing a bit. I dabble in the accordion. And I play harmonica a little bit, as well as ukulele. Yeah, I pretty much will play anything I can get my hands on.

Have you tried the didgeridoo?

Actually, yes. We’ve got one in the trombone studio. I tried it for the first time the other day.

Would you like to be a soloist or play in an orchestra?

I love playing in the trombone section [of an orchestra]. There are usually three trombones—two tenors and a bass—and a tuba. I just like the dynamic, and how that fits into the orchestra.


Mark Ostow

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Kaan Erturk ’23
Istanbul, Turkey
Davenport College

Has anything surprised you about being here?

I was actually surprised about my roommates, because I didn’t expect we’d get along this well. I don’t know how we filled out that housing form, but they matched us perfectly. It’s only been a week and a half, and we’re already talking about staying together next year.

Where are they from?

Pittsburgh, Long Island, San Francisco, L.A.—I forgot the other one. They’re all Americans. I’m the only international one.

What do you plan to study?

I’m a double major in economics and in statistics and data science. I’m going to go into either investment banking or consulting.

How do you know so soon what you want to do?

Since ninth grade, I was into finance and econ. My father is a banker. I did two internships at banks. One of them was the [Turkish] treasury department. The other one was a portfolio management company that managed a fund of $3 billion. I’m double majoring because econ would give me the theoretical aspect of things, and data science would enable me to analyze big data sets and draw conclusions.


Mark Ostow

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Kitty Cassetti ’22MFA
New York, New York
School of Drama


Kyle Artone ’22MFA
Richmond, Virginia
School of Drama

How did you end up in costume design? 

Kyle: High school theater. They didn’t have a props department, so I applied for costumes, and I immediately fell in love with the profession. It’s a very specialized industry. And you jump from project to project, so you’re never burdened with one thing over and over. In every project, you always find something new.

Kitty: My mom’s an illustrator. She was the kind of parent that would be drawing while making bagged lunches. And I asked her when I was a little kid, “How did you know that you wanted to be an artist?” And she was like, “It’s something I can’t not do.” And that phrase has always really stuck with me. Because it’s something that I feel like I can’t not do.

There’s a lot of human psychology that comes in with costume design. Because no one in our generation knows what’s it like to be, let’s say, a parlor woman in the 1870s. One of our classmates, Marcello, as a young actor would say he would discover the character in the costume.

How did you choose Yale?

Kitty: I worked with a Yale graduate in the San Francisco Mime Troupe. She talked about her experience at Yale. It’s such a small world, and mentoring each other is really important.

[Later] I worked as a full-time shopper for one of the major costume houses in Manhattan. I made sure that every person I had to train understood the care and consideration that went into every aspect of my job, and without treating them with kid gloves: letting them experience the same magic that I had when I first came to New York—the Japanese ribbon stores, the places where they make custom feather pieces, custom-dyed things. Giving someone that experience is really powerful.

Kyle: I think working in the theater, you never have to grow up.

Kitty: You do have to grow up.

Kyle: Yeah, yeah, you do have to show up on time and pay your taxes.

Kitty: There’s a lot of pain, because you have to really stick up for yourself in a way that you’ve never thought you were going to have to. You have to chase people down to pay you.

Kyle: So, I think you have to find your joys—to remember being a kid, tying your blanket around your neck to make a cape.

Kitty: In that singular moment, it can be simple.


Mark Ostow

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Josie Cummings ’23
New Vernon, New Jersey
Pierson College

What course are you enjoying most so far?

I’m taking a really cool seminar on human/wildlife conflict in Africa. I’m really excited. I think partially it’s because I’ve spent a lot of time in Africa—I was born in South Africa—but also because I’m just interested in conservation. It’s looking at conservation from a different perspective. It’s not just about saving the animals; it’s also about how humans play into conservation, and how the view of conservation in Africa is largely a Western one. So it’s trying to put actual African people into the question—and challenges us to look at conservation through a broader lens, while deeply analyzing specific cases.

Have you chosen any extracurriculars?

I’m still deciding. There are so many, it’s a little bit overwhelming. The extracurricular bazaar was crazy: one whole gym full of stands with people and their posters, trying to convince you to put your name on their email list, and luring you in with food. I’m thinking about doing club lacrosse; other than that, I’m not totally sure.

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