Brandon graduated from Yale College in 2016 with a degree in Political Science. During his time at Yale he was a member of the 2016 Men’s Basketball team and led them to their first NCAA Tournament victory in school history. In addition to his time on the court, he took a leave of absence from the university and toured globally with the 2015 Whiffenpoofs.

Since graduation he has enjoyed a 6-year professional basketball career that's taken him to Italy, Finland, and Israel. He is the proud founder of BS35 Basketball, a mentorship and skills training company that focuses on empowering youth through education, holistic wellness, and the game of basketball. He also serves as an ambassador for Connecticut Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Southern Connecticut.

He recently took the time to share his nontraditional favorite pizza place and how being a student athlete impacted his time at Yale and beyond. 

Why Yale?
As a Connecticut native, I always marveled at the splendor of Yale. As a youth, I never imagined that I would be able to experience the university as a student. My decision to attend Yale was two-fold. One, the chance to be apart of the history, pedigree, academic rigor, and global reach that Yale prides itself on was very intriguing. Second, I wanted to give my friends and family from the Greater New Haven community a chance to experience parts of Yale that they didn't have prior access to.

What is your most enduring memory of your time at Yale? 
The most enduring memory that I had of Yale was definitely the diversity of the student body. From New Zealand to Bridgeport, CT students traveled thousands of miles just so that they could attend Yale. To have an enriching academic experience with professors at the top of their field was a once in a lifetime experience. The perspective I gained from having classmates from all walks of life was invaluable.

If you could relive your time at Yale, what would you do differently?
Brandon playing basketball for YaleI would've taken advantage of the copious amounts of fellowships and summer opportunities that are available to the students. As an athlete, I had some restrictions on my movements so that played a role in my decision making. I also would have organized more events to connect Yale and the Greater New Haven community.

What would you do exactly the same? 
I would continue to highlight the disparities between Yale as a corporation and the City of New Haven. I would continue my involvement in various on-campus groups and spend lots of time in the Pierson College library.

What is your favorite place in New Haven, past or present?
My favorite place to dine was Miya's Sushi on Howe Street. Miya's was a sushi restaurant that promoted health and sustainability (two characteristics that aren't always synonymous with sushi). Miya's was run by a New Haven family (by way of Japan) and the restaurant became such a safe space for Yalies and New Haven residents alike.

What is your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spot on campus is Cross Campus. The view of Sterling Memorial Library to the North and then Berkeley to the East and West and the other academic buildings nearby makes for an impressive architectural and artistic experience. Payne Whitney Gymnasium is a close second.

What's your favorite pizza place in New Haven?
My choice is very nontraditional. Pizza at the Brick Oven on the corner of Howe and Elm Street is phenomenal. One of the rare pizza places that offers slices every day for a reasonable price. The owner Kadir is so kind and has a knack for creating community by making everyone feel welcome at his restaurant. Additionally, his son Hacibey is a recent Yale graduate and a New Haven alderman.

Who is another Yalie who inspires you? Why?
Sebastian Little ’16 is someone who inspires my every day. Little is a former Yale football member, life coach, public speaker, and former consultant at the McChrystal Group. He now runs his own business and helps people from all backgrounds achieve their highest potential by using their “mess” (performance plateaus, lack of motivation etc.) to propel them to greatness. Sebastian is charismatic, pragmatic, and a testament to hard work and dedication. He is also extremely community minded and gives back consistently. I'm proud to call him a friend and fellow Eli.

What have you gained from your alumni engagement with Yale?
So far, I've been able to connect with the Yale Club of Israel and some alumni who repatriated in Italy but the majority of my alumni engagement took place when I was still in undergrad. I look forward to utilizing the resources that the YAA provides.

How did your time at Yale shape the person you are today?
Graduating from Yale has provided me with a network of culture shifters. My worldview is now much broader than my state of Connecticut and it has provided me with a degree of academic prowess that I wouldn't have gained going to another university.

What advice would you give to current students? 
My advice would be that you belong and you can create the community that you may not currently have. Yale can be a daunting place and the pressure to perform is immense, however, where there is an abundance of resources there is an abundance of opportunity. Don't be afraid to ask for help and don't be discouraged by those who don't see your full potential right away. Stay encouraged and stay true to yourself.

How would you answer? Share your responses with the YAA and they might be featured in an upcoming edition of "Getting to Know You." 

And be sure to check out all the Q&As in the series by visiting our Getting to Know You page.

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