Top STEM Applicants Share Their Yale Spirit at YES Weekend

Two years ago, Claire Mallon attended Yale Engineering and Science Weekend (YES-W), a three-day program that offers a group of over 100 outstanding high school science and engineering students an in-depth preview of life at Yale — a night at the symphony, master classes from world-class faculty, showcases of student research, hangouts in the residential colleges. Now a sophomore, she was part of the student team organizing this year’s event.

YES-W is one hundred percent the reason I’m here at Yale right now,” said Mallon. “It showed me how great life as an engineer at Yale could be, and now I hope to get other students as excited about Yale as I am.”

Mallon’s not alone. Mechanical engineering senior Chinmay Jaju was a prospective student at the first YES-W in 2011. Not only did the experience make him want to come to Yale, but for the past three years he’s also worked with Yale admission as a  STEM ambassador, most recently making connections with YES-W attendees by sharing his experience building racecars for Bulldogs Racing and as part of an internship in Belgium.

“I spoke about Bulldogs Racing last year at YES-W,” he said, “and now some of the students I met then are my teammates. It’s nice to see it come full circle.”

In that sense, YES-W is a way to tell the Yale stories that can’t be captured in an admission brochure, from lunches with faculty members to making snow angels on Cross Campus. And bookending all of this are two of YES-W’s signature events: “Junk Yale Wars” — a collaborative competition in the Center for Engineering Innovation & Design to build the best rambunctiously loud Rube Goldberg machine — and a Master’s Tea with a renowned Yale scholar.

This year’s Master’s Tea featured Nobel Laureate James Rothman ’71, chairman of the Department of Cell Biology and Fergus F. Wallace Professor of Biomedical Sciences and Chemistry. Rothman won the the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for helping to discern how vesicles — small organelles that Rothman calls the “shuttle busses” for the body’s proteins — know where and when to release their contents; he shared the prize with two researchers in California and Germany.

In addition to providing an overview of the work that led to his Nobel win, Rothman also made a final pitch for attending Yale. “A number of you will get acceptance letters, and I suggest you say ‘yes’ because I am still very glad I said ‘yes,’ ” he said. Not that things haven’t changed, he added, mentioning the outstanding increases in campus diversity and the much-appreciated ability to wear something other than a coat and tie to class.

“But a great thing about Yale that has not changed,” he said, “is the college system, an intimate environment that hasn’t been readily replicated. Most of my friends were not scientists, and they are relations that I have treasured for a lifetime.”

Those relations were already visible among the YES-W attendees. Both before and after the Master’s Tea, participants exhibited a memorable rapport, fraternally introducing themselves and conversing about all the great things they’ve managed to pack into a short but intense time.

“The weekend gives the attendees — all of whom have received ‘likely’ letters of admission — a chance to see the opportunities and resources within STEM that Yale would offer,” said associate director of undergraduate admissions and director of STEM recruitment Ayaska Fernando ’08. “But as well, they see firsthand how these resources are grounded in the liberal arts and shaped by the integral residential college setting.”

So while the YES-W attendees are only on campus a short time, through their friendships and excitement they are already like Yale Students.