Eraina Ferguson is a special needs advocate, journalist, and TEDx speaker. Along with her full-time role as the marketing and communications manager at Udacity, she enjoys building technology solutions for families of special needs children. Her company, My Good Life, enables families of children with special needs to live their best lives despite their circumstances. Her recent monologue, "Listen to Her," was read by actress Marla Gibbs and featured at the WACO Theatre’s 50in50 event. Her writing has been featured on NBC Universal, Red Tricycle, LA Parents Magazine, and The Los Angeles Times. Eraina lives in North Carolina with her husband and children.

In this Q&A, one of the YAA's new Eli Ambassadors remembers singing in Marquand Chapel, talks about her alumni inspiration, and discusses the power of the Yale community to change the world.

Why Yale?
I chose back in the summer of 2004. My mentor recommended that I visit campus because I lived in Brooklyn, New York, at the time. She felt like it would be a great weekend getaway. I visited twice that summer and I fell in love with the campus and the culture. In the summer of 2006, I attended Yale summer school and received an “A” in an African American studies course. In 2007, I presented at the Yale Bouchet Conference. In 2008, I entered Yale Divinity and started my master of arts in Religion with a focus in Black Religion and African Diaspora.

What is your most enduring memory of your time at Yale? 
My most enduring memory at Yale was singing in the Chapel at Marquand. We sang “Make the Circle Wide” during our daily chapel service and you could feel the love permeate the room.

If you could relive your time at Yale, what would you do differently?
If I could relive my time at Yale, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I truly felt like I experienced all that I was supposed to during my time at Yale. The campus, the students, and the academic work prepared me for what I know. It was a remarkable experience, and I wouldn’t change anything.

What is your favorite place in New Haven, past or present? 
My favorite place in New Haven is my old building, 360 State Street. We were the first people to live there, and we had a doorman, and it was such a grand building back in 2010. I also love how close it was to the train. I opened a consulting business across the street called Good Life, named for the blog I started writing in my dorm room at Yale Divinity School.

What is your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spot on campus is the Graduate Hall of Studies. It feels like such a historic and well-preserved part of campus. I spent my summer there in 2006 while in graduate school at Boston College. I completed a course in African American History. It was such a fantastic course.

What's your favorite pizza place in New Haven?
Yorkside pizza is my favorite pizza place in New Haven.

Who is another Yalie who inspires you? Why?
Connie Royster. She was one of the first women of color to make Yale coed. She has a fantastic story and passion for Yale women, academics, and understands the rich legacy of people of color and Yale. Her story is included in the book "Yale Needs Women" by Anne Gardiner Perkins.

What have you gained from your alumni engagement with Yale?
I have gained excellent relationships, inspiration, and support. Each city I’ve lived in has had a great community, and I’ve spent countless hours planning Yale Day of Service events, attending holiday parties, and joining arm and arm with Yalies across the country. One season, in particular, was challenging. I moved back to Chicago to marry my now-husband and needed community. I volunteered with other Yalies to tutor at Yale Elementary School. My fellow volunteers were from the Class of ’61. We forged a great friendship.

How did your time at Yale shape the person you are today?
My time at Yale truly shaped my compassion for humanity. It made me understand my mission and love to help people live their best life despite their circumstances. I launched a blog at Yale in my dorm room at the Divinity School called Good Life. That blog would be the base for my brand and my platform.

What is your hope for the future of the Yale alumni community?
I hope that the future of the Yale alumni community continues to transform the world. I hope the Yale Day of Service events continue when it's safe for people to connect again.

What advice would you give to current students? 
Enjoy Yale. Enjoy the experiences, the people, the surroundings. Soak up the history, go to other campus parts, and check out the Graduate School's lectures and conferences. Yale's Interdisciplinary approach to learning is unmatched. Follow it and build upon the traditions that bring you joy.


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.