After working for 12 years as an endocrinologist in private practice, Caroline Korsten Messer ’00 was set to launch Well By Messer, when she came across fellow Yalie Jess Diller Kovler ’07. Jess, who spent the height of the COVID-19 pandemic working in a psychiatric emergency room, found herself joining Caroline in private practice after recognizing the potential in combining their specialties. 

Together, they tackle the complexities of managing metabolic syndromes and difficulty losing weight. Their team includes endocrinologists, psychologists, dietitians, and trainers to support patients on their weight loss journey.

For this edition of Getting to Know You, Jess and Caroline discuss their most enduring memories from their time on campus, how other Yalies have inspired them, and share advice for current students. 

Why Yale?

Caroline Messer: I will always remember the story my father told about how he got into Yale. He was sitting with an interviewer who took one look at his slight frame and suggested he would be great as a coxswain. Coming from Brooklyn with immigrant parents, my dad had no idea what this was but nodded emphatically. I always hoped that some interviewer would look at me and decide I was similarly crucial to Yale’s mission. When the fat envelope arrived in the mail, I accepted without hesitation.

Jess Kovler: I came from a family that valued education. In the early 1950s, my grandmother actually had to petition her college in order to major in chemistry! (Women at her school were not allowed degrees in the sciences until the mid ’50s.) She fought for women’s educational rights—and commuted 2 hours to college each day to get to class. When it came time for me to apply to colleges, I thought of my grandmother’s fearless defense of gender equality and feminism, and knew these would be fostered in New Haven.

What is your most enduring memory of your time at Yale? 

CM: I always think of the night I was tapped for a secret society as one of my most quintessential Yale memories. The whole episode is a bit of a blur, but I love remembering the way I felt like a part of such an enduring tradition.

If you could relive your time at Yale, what would you do differently?

JK: To this day, I regret not attending more Master’s Teas. Those were always such a delight.

CM: To this day, I regret turning down English 129 because I worried it would be too much to handle along with a pre-med course load. Why go to a liberal arts school and then turn down such an amazing opportunity?

What would you do exactly the same? 

JK: Yale fostered my desire to learn about the past, in order to better inform how one acts in the present. Before doing this as a psychologist, I did this as a historian. As an HSHM major, I learned about archival research and spent a great deal of time at the Medical School archives, the Beinecke, and Sterling Memorial Library. Going through the stacks of books, the smell of the old book bindings, and tracking down a source, that excitement became a passion. There’s nothing quite like going through the archives and immersing oneself with a card catalog and the unknown.

CM: When I arrived on campus, it seemed like frisbees were flying everywhere. I had never played a team sport competitively and had never really thrown a frisbee. Being a part of the women’s ultimate frisbee club team was a highlight of my college years, and I still play twice a week to this day (twenty-six years later!)

What is your favorite place in New Haven, past or present? 

CM: It doesn’t exist anymore, but Caffé Adulis sparked my lifelong obsession with Ethiopian food. I just can’t eat enough injera. Sadly, there’s no restaurant quite as amazing in my hometown of NYC.

JK: Claire's Corner Copia, where my friends and I could explore our affinity for vegan cuisine.

What is your favorite spot on campus?

JK: I loved frequenting the different libraries (the Divinity School, law school, Berkley College, the Beinecke, and the main library). Books do not exist in a vacuum. While they tell stories and teach lessons from the past, books also provide a blueprint for making a better present and future.

CM: I’ve always been obsessed with Ingles Rink. As a figure skater, the access to an empty rink between science classes was a dream come true. They used to even let me play my own CDs (I’m dating myself) over the loudspeaker. It was heaven.

Who is another Yalie who inspires you? Why?

CM: I’m inspired daily by my husband, Marcelo Messer ‘97, because while his pursuit of lifelong learning borders on fanatical, it reminds me to continue to explore and learn outside my chosen profession.

JK: When I started at Yale, I never envisioned myself as a scientist. Ever. I took a class with Dr. Iona Black – a fearless trailblazer for women in the sciences at Yale. She spent hours outside of the classroom with me and countless others nurturing our love of chemistry, always advocating for students traditionally underrepresented in the sciences. She took me to seminars and symposia, and fostered my love of learning. Through her, I fell in love with chemistry. Through her, I found a calling in teaching, and she was actually my motivation for becoming a professor. We lost touch for a brief bit a few years ago but as I was putting the finishing touches on my dissertation, I messaged her a copy of my acknowledgments section. I decided to dedicate my dissertation to her and to my grandmother – two women who faced great obstacles and fought to learn chemistry. She wrote back with a heart, thumbs up, and happy face emojis. I didn’t know this at the time, but Dr. Black passed away shortly after that message. I would like to honor her legacy by having a plaque or marker on the campus. She was a lifelong educator, and even in her passing we can still learn from her.


Dr. Messer (left) and Dr. Kovler (right)

What have you gained from your alumni engagement with Yale?

JK: I have learned that one's relationship with Yale goes well beyond the four years we spent on campus. You make a global family for a lifetime. Just look at me and Dr. Messer: While we were at Yale at different times, our connection to Yale helped us bond immediately.

CM: I have enjoyed sending personal emails and letters to classmates. I often receive great responses with updates on personal and professional lives.

What advice would you give to current students? 

CM: Love every moment of your undergraduate education. There are challenges, of course, but it is such a blessing and is over in a blink. Also remember that a Yale degree can open doors but isn’t the golden ticket. You have to continue to work hard and be scrappy for the rest of your life.

JK: Immerse yourself in the beauty of the campus, the classes, and the people. Yale is such a unique place, and try to make the most of our years on the campus. Go to the Master’s Teas, go to a class in a field you might not otherwise consider, go through the library stacks “just because”, or try a new instrument or hobby or language. Challenge yourself in an incredibly supportive community. Boola Boola!


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.