13 of the most impressive students at Yale right now

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Courtesy of Joshua Feinzig

As one of the 10 best colleges in the US, Yale University received more than 30,000 applications for the class of 2019 and accepted about 5% of them.

Part of Yale’s allure is the fame and accomplishments of its prominent alumni, who include former presidents, Supreme Court justices, and award-winning journalists.

The current students, some of whom will graduate this month, aim to carry on that legacy of success.

We approached clubs and organizations at Yale and asked them to nominate their best and brightest peers. The group includes budding entrepreneurs, researchers, and an aspiring Olympian.

Here are 13 of the most impressive students at Yale:


Rehab Abdelwahab created a nonprofit that helps bring health-education courses to underdeveloped communities.

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Courtesy of Rehab Abdelwahab

Class of 2017

Major: Global Affairs Development

Rehab Abdelwahab was born in Egypt and raised in Qatar, and her experience with Egypt’s healthcare system, and how it paled in comparison to the US’s, inspired her to create Branching Hearts, a nonprofit that works with the International Federation of the Red Cross/Crescent Societies to bring health-education courses to children.

Yale awarded Abdelwahab with two scholarships to spend two months in Ethiopia with the Red Cross and the country’s education bureau to help implement health programs in schools throughout the country. During her time there, she also worked at the second-largest hospital in the country restructuring the procedure in which they treat patients based on the severity of their condition.

She’s also co-president of Recovered Medical Equipment for the Developing World, an organization that collects unused medical supplies and donates them to partner organizations in developing countries.

Abdelwahab credits growing up in the Middle East for her drive to pursue a career in global health. This summer, she will intern at Results for Development, a nonprofit working to solve public and social problems facing developing nations. Next year, she plans to apply for medical school, but she may also pursue a degree in law or business to maximize the influence she can have on healthcare in the Middle East and Africa.


Mariona Badenas’ research on exoplanets was published in a prominent astrophysics journal.

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Courtesy of Mariona Badenas

Class of 2016

Major: Astrophysics

Mariona Badenas’ love for astronomy and space brought her from Barcelona, Spain, to Yale to pursue a degree in astrophysics. In the past four years she has conducted research at the Institute of Space Sciences in Spain, the Harvard Center for Astrophysics, MIT, and UC Berkeley. She’s focused on researching exoplanets – planets beyond our solar system that orbit a star other than the sun. Her most recent study about planetary systems was published in The Astrophysical Journal.

She’s also the only student monitoring Spain’s cosmic-ray detector forEnergetic Ray Global Observatory, a program that give students all over the world a chance to monitor space particles.

Aside from her work with astrophysics, Badenas took the time to serve as a sous-chef for Yale’s first student-run pop-up restaurant, theUnderground Noodle Collective, started with intention of providing students with an alternative to the dining hall.

In the summer, she plans to head to Israel to attend theSpace Studies Program, a graduate-level training program held by the International Space Academy. Then she will travel to France to obtain her master’s in aeronautical and space systems at theISAE-SUPAERO. She hopes to work for NASA or the European Space Agency.


Adam Beckman is a global health fellow who will start working at Aledade after graduation.

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Courtesy of Adam Beckman

Class of 2016

Major: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

As a Yale Global Health Fellow, Adam Beckman’s mission is to improve the quality of healthcare in the US. The coauthor of 12 scientific studies, he’s researched everything from trends in hospitalizations to how prisoners get access to the new hepatitis C medication, Sovaldi.

Beckman also cofounded Yale’sStudent Partnerships for Global Health, a group he leads that partners with hospitals and clinics to conduct public-health research. The group has conducted research in Ecuador and Nicaragua in recent years.

When he’s finished with school, Beckman will work withDr. Farzard Mostashariat Aledade,a company that helps doctors give high-quality healthcare to Medicare patients. He will eventually head to medical school to become a physician.


Alexander Borsa is conducting independent research on the new HIV medicine PrEP.

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Courtesy of Alexander Borsa

Class of 2016

Major: Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

Alexander Borsa may have traveled to the Amazon rainforest to isolate species of fungus and find new cancer therapeutics, but it is through his leadership roles on campus that he became inspired to combine biochemistry with gender and sexuality studies.

During his four years at Yale, he was the leader of the LGBTQ Student Cooperative, an all-inclusive student organization aimed at fostering a sense of community for students on campus who identify as LGBTQ.

He also served as the Yale leader of theIvyQ conference, an annual LGBTQ activist conference that brings together students, speakers, and performers.

He was awarded four grants to pursue independent research on the newHIV medicine, “PrEP” – a one-a-day pill that prevents the contraction of HIV. He wants to use his dual degree to highlight the sociological and scientific impact of the new form of HIV prevention.

He is also the leader of a campusimprov groupand one ofYale’s Communication and Consent Educators, in which students work to create a more positive and social climate at the university.


Feridun Mert Celebi cofounded a healthcare technology startup.

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Courtesy of Feridun Mert Celebi

Class of 2016

Major: Computer Science

Feridun Mert Celebi became a time-management master when he moved from Turkey to attend Yale. The growing entrepreneur splits his waking hours between taking classes and running a healthcare tech startup he cofounded with four other students.PatientBankis an online platform that allows patients and physicians to access medical records and share them with families, new doctors, and registries all over the country. The project received funding from theYale Entrepreneurial Institute’s Innovation Fund, which provides up to $100,000 to promising startups.

The former Microsoft intern also enjoys research. While working at theYale Technology and Innovation Lab, he co-developed a more precise way to calibrate eye trackers that are used in the research of children with autism-spectrum disorder. He was able to coauthor and publish two research papers through what he learned in the lab, despite having no knowledge of eye trackers before he started the research.

When he was in high school, Celebi organized the first-ever high school-level TED conference in Istanbul. His experience led to his involvement withTEDxYale. In his junior year he was the co-president and co-curator of the program, which brought about 20 speakers to Yale’s campus.

After graduation, Celebi wants to move PatientBank to New York City with the rest of his team and focus on the company full-time.


Amy Chang worked on a global project for Bayer Pharmaceuticals and landed a job at Deloitte.

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Courtesy of Amy Chang

Class of 2016

Major: Biomedical Engineering; Global Affairs

Amy Chang chose a rigorous double major at Yale with the hope that she’d be able to use technology to solve issues in global development. She furthered that ambition her sophomore year when she worked for a Cape Town tech company calledLiquid Thought, a web and mobile technology consulting agency.

In her junior year, Chang simultaneously held a remote internship for the US Department of State and worked on a project for Bayer Pharmaceuticals. The project involved figuring out technologies that would produce a cancer drug agent on a global scale. Chang presented her findings with her team at Bayer’s headquarters and at theWorld Business Dialoguein Cologne, Germany.

She spent half of the summer after her junior year working for US secretary of Health and Human Services and the other half using a $10,000 grant from theDavis Project for Peaceto start a public-speaking workshop for students in South Africa.

When she starts her job at Deloitte next year, she will be working with organizations such as the US Department of Defense and the US Agency for International Development to address public issues revolving around the use of technology.


Eva Fabian has her eyes set on the 2020 Olympics.

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Courtesy of Eva Fabian

Class of 2016

Major: Music

As a member of theUSA national swimmingteamand Yale’s women’s swim team, Eva Fabian spends about four or five hours a day in the pool.

The hard work has paid off. She has won a bronze medal at the summer 2013World Swimming Championshipsand a silver medal at summer 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships. And last summer, she brought home a gold medal at thePan American Gamesfor the women’s 10K open-water race.

This year, Fabian received the Lifetime Achievement Award at theIvy League Championships, an athletic competition in which all eight Ivies compete.

She also has a love for music. At Yale, she takes performance lessons inKyung Yu‘s studio – Yu is a concert violinist who teaches at the university. Fabian plays both the violin and the piano, but she has been focusing on violin since high school.

Fabian’s time as a student athlete and musician has taught her a lot about time management and balancing responsibilities. Once her senior year is over, she plans on dedicating her time to qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics.


Joshua Feinzig is a winner of the ‘junior Nobel Prize.’

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Courtesy of Joshua Feinzig

Class of 2016

Major: Ethics, Politics, and Economics

Joshua Feinzig’s passion for criminal justice pushed him to help cofound Project Youth Court, a program that takes trained high-school volunteers in Connecticut into a federal courtroom to serve as lawyers, clerks, and jurors in misdemeanor-offense trials. Feinzig, vice chair of the organization, has also worked with the New Haven Mayor’s Office and the New Haven Police Department to improve the community’s justice system.

During the summer of 2015, he published a study that highlights the discriminatory practices in St. Louis’ municipal court and jail system. The study gained national coverage and was featured inan article in Newsweek.

One of his proudest accomplishments is winning an Undergraduate Award, aka the “junior Nobel Prize,” which he received in the fall of 2015 for a term paper on social justice and racial politics. It’s the largest undergraduate award program in the world, and Feinzig was selected as the Overall Winner in Anthropology.

As one of 35 Americans to be awarded this year’s Gates Cambridge Scholarship,the former White House intern will head to Cambridge University next year to get his MPhil in Criminology on a full ride. Afterward, he plans to attend law school.


JT Flowers started a program to help low-income students excel in college.

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Courtesy of JT Flowers

Class of 2017

Major: Global Affairs; Ethnicity, Race, and Migration

JT Flowers founded A Leg Even to make sure low-income students at Yale receive the same academic opportunities as others. The program provides nearly 50 students with tutors, mentorship, guest speakers, lunches with faculty, and summer stipends.

Flowers’ focus on disadvantaged populations is global, as he has also focused his energy on the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Africa. In the spring of 2015, Flowers spent a semester in Rabat, Morocco, where he was a youth coordinator ata resettlement center for refugees. He also cofounded theOxford-Yale Refugee Education Initiative, a collective of about 40 students whoconduct research on topics involving migrant populations.

At Yale, Flowers is the cofounder of theBlack Pre-Law Association, a peer liaison for the African-American Cultural Center, and member of both the Black Men’s Union and the Arab Student Association. He’s earned fellowships in social policy and social justice.

Flowers is driven by a desire to increase opportunities for disadvantaged groups from all over the world, and he eventually hopes to implement transformative social policy.


Emma Goldberg is using journalism to advocate for sexual-assault issues.

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Courtesy of Gina Starfield

Class of 2016

Major: Political Science

Emma Goldberg, an aspiring journalist, has been published in The New York Times, theHuffington Post, and Haaretz. As the former opinions editor for the Yale Daily News, she’s written editorials on a variety of topics, but wants to use her writing to bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault. In the summer of 2014, she received a fellowship from Yale that allowed her to investigate the aftermath of a rape of a 16-year-old high school girl in Steubenville, Ohio. After weeks of reporting, the article was published onSalon.

Last year, Goldberg initiated a collaboration between the administrators in Yale’s Title IX office;Title IXestablishes gender equality for all educational programs that receive federal funding. Members of the Yale College Council and Women’s Center that surveyed students about sexual misconduct on campus. Goldberg came up with the idea for a Title IX Undergraduate Advisory Board so that students and administrators can discuss the policies at Yale.

During summer of her junior year, Goldberg worked in the US Department of State, where she helped plan a summit at the UN General Assembly about curbing violent extremism.

After she graduates, Goldberg wants to work in a government office tackling gender issues and gender-based violence in the US.


Derek Lo created an app that had 10,000 downloads on its first day on iTunes.

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Courtesy of Derek Lo

Class of 2017

Major: Computer Science; Statistics

Derek Lo coupled a passion for entrepreneurship and his studies in programming and statistics to create a mobile app called Daybreak.

The idea for Daybreakcame during spring of his sophomore year when he struggled to keep up with his schedule using his phone’s reminder app. Daybreak uses an algorithm to learn a person’s phone-use pattern to predict when they need a reminder. It took four days for Lo to create. He then uploaded it to iTunes’ app store for a few of his friends to download; the app had about 10,000 downloads in its first day. After Daybreak’s initial success, Lo entered it intoYale’s Venture Creation Program, which provides funding, training, and mentorship for early-stage ventures, and it was accepted. He’s now working on a second version of the app to make it more accessible to the general public.

Lo’s other projects include a finance app called Snapcash, an app-developing company namedThundr, and SmartPolls, a site that helps teachers get accurate feedback from students. Through Thundr, he was able to help two Yale studentscreate a prototype to theLA Dodgers Accelerator. The prototype was accepted and the students received $120,000 in funding to build their startup.

The former varsity squash player plans on applying to graduate school in either statistics or machine learning. He wants to find a career where he can use his tech skills to influence the world through data-driven products.


Mujtaba Wani wants to find a way to create socially responsible investing.

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Courtesy of Mujtaba Wani

Class of 2017

Major: Humanities; Political Science

Mujtaba Wani has a passion for finance, but he’s not just interested in profits; he wants to make the world a better place. Wani is the portfolio manager and cochair forYale’s Dwight Hall Socially Responsible Investment Fund, a fund in which students run a portion of the money donated to Center for Public Service and Social Justice. He also published a piece for the Journal ofEnvironmentalInvestingon Islamic finance and how socially responsible investing can aid the modern economy.

Wani also spoke on the problems in the modern financial system at Yale’s 2015 Buck-Jackson Prize Yale College Public Speaking Competition, where he won third place.

Outside of his studies and pursuits in finance, the former intern for the US Department of Justice runs a men’s style blog he cofounded calledSherman’s Alley.

In the next several years, he hopes take time off to study Arabic and Islam, work in the finance industry, and go to graduate school. His goal is to create an ethical, sustainable, and profitable financial-services company.


Olga Wroblewski helped create a motorcycle-powered generator.

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Courtesy of Olga Wroblewski

Class of 2016

Major: Biomedical Engineering

When Olga Wroblewski decided she wanted to go to Yale, she had no idea how to develop mechanical systems. But she began realizing her engineering potential after getting involved with the Yale Center of Engineering, Innovation, and Design. In her junior year, as part of a capstone course, Wroblewski worked on a team of students to create a motorcycle-powered generator that serves an energy source for rural African communities. The project took home first place at the 2015 American Society of Engineers “Design the Future Competition.”

Her focus though is in biomedical engineering, where her work earned her a spot in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute EXROP program, which partners about 125 volunteer scientists with students, allowing them to work in their labs and conduct research. Through the program, shehad the ability to work at a cartilage-tissue engineering lab in San Diego, California, and presented her work at a biomedical engineering conference.

In her hometown of Chicago, she’s in charge of public relations for a local food pantry, where she has been volunteering for eight years.

She plans to continue her biomedical and tissue engineering studies after graduation by pursuing her PhD. Her goal is to make tissue engineering medical solutions easily accessible to the public.