John Yi currently works as an associate director at the Yale Office of Undergraduate Admissions, where he leads onboarding and training of new admissions staff, co-directs the Campus Tour Guide program, and serves as associate director of International Admissions, as well as assisting with initiatives in athletics, communications, and recruitment. As an undergraduate, John played flute in the Yale Symphony Orchestra, performed a cappella with the Yale Alley Cats, belonged to The Elihu Club, and took a leave of absence to tour internationally as a member of the Whiffenpoofs. In addition to his work in admissions, John resides in Ezra Stiles College as a resident fellow, teaches indoor cycling classes at JoyRide Cycling + Fitness in downtown New Haven, trains as a CrossFit athlete, and sings with the Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus.

In this special Reunions Edition of Getting to Know You, John appreciates his time at Yale as both a student and employee, and shares excitement for the upcoming Yale College Reunions, for which he is serving as co-chair for the Class of 2012 10th Reunion.

Why Yale?
My visit to Yale in junior year of high school was characterized by quintessential New England weather: pouring rain, windy, and 40 degrees in March. And yet, after an admissions information session led by Mark Dunn ’07 and an unimaginably charming campus tour, there was a magic about Yale and its campus that I could not shake. Yale was the perfect place to pursue both high-level music performance and an intense liberal arts education, all the while being surrounded by a student body that places such sincere emphasis on community.

What is your favorite place in New Haven, past or present?
I have been a resident of New Haven for 14 years, so choosing a favorite place is difficult. It would have to be a tie between 116 Crown (best cocktails I have ever had), or Miya’s Sushi, which has recently closed but will always be a gastronomic marvel.

What is your favorite spot on campus?
Hillhouse Avenue. I have been walking or biking up Hillhouse daily for more than a decade, and it never ceases to instill a sense of gratitude that I get to live and work on Yale’s campus.

What's your favorite pizza place in New Haven?
The Italian Bomb at Modern Apizza is my favorite pizza ever, but after midnight, nothing hits quite like Pizza at the Brick Oven.

What reunion are you celebrating this year?
The Class of 2012 is celebrating its 10th reunion this year.

What was your role for the reunion?
I am fortunate enough to be serving as co-chair for this 10th Reunion, alongside my classmates Murphy Temple ’12 (and dean of Ezra Stiles College!) and Sable Worthy ’12.

What was your approach to planning the celebratory weekend for your class?
I think the entire planning team — which involves Kevin Adkisson ’12 (class secretary) and Paige Wahoff ’12 (class treasurer) — just feels lucky that public health conditions can allow for us to even gather in the first place. While we hope that our classmates will enjoy being back on Yale’s campus, in spaces and with people that they hold near and dear in their hearts, we hope that they will also just enjoy the opportunity to dance, eat, drink, chat, and be merry — something that has felt like a luxury as of late.

How do you hope this reunion will help build your class community?

The past 26 months has taught us all that even when it is impossible to gather and connect in person, community endures — and can even thrive! I hope that this 10th reunion will encourage everyone in the Class of 2012 to genuinely appreciate the opportunity we had to grow alongside such a diverse, talented, and thoughtful community of classmates. And to continue investing in those connections, conversations, and relationships even when we are away from campus.

What are you most looking forward to during reunion weekend?
I would be lying if I did not say I am VERY much looking forward to an epic dance party with classmates. Perhaps more sentimentally, I am also looking forward to crossing paths with those classmates and acquaintances that I do not know well enough to stay in touch with regularly but appreciate all the same. I hope I have the chance to express that gratitude in person.

What would you say to alumni who are unsure about attending their reunion?
Although I adored my time at Yale and have chosen to make my home and career here on campus, I also know that Yale was (and continues to be) a complex presence in the lives of some alumni — including some dear friends. I hope that alumni who are unsure about attending their reunion feel that these sentiments are entirely valid. I also hope, however, that they do not see reunions as a way to blindly celebrate Yale, free of any honest reflection or criticism, but rather an opportunity to revisit a place and a community that has hopefully left a meaningful impact on their lives.

What have you gained from your alumni engagement with Yale?
I am lucky that I get to continue engaging the Yale community so deeply, even 10 years after graduation. Whenever I am interacting with alumni, I only become even more inspired by the kinds of souls this place attracts. Yalies are amongst the kindest, wittiest, joyful, and most talented people I’ve ever met. And they teach me daily that you can always find time in your day (and your life) to make a positive impact on someone else.

What advice would you give to current students?
In my mind, Yale is not a means to an end, nor it is a guarantee of any career or personal outcome after graduation. Rather, it is an opportunity to engage a series of resources, a wildly fascinating community of peers, and the delightful spontaneity of undergraduate life, in hopes that you graduate with a deeper appreciation of others, a more confident sense of self, and a view on life and the world around you that you would not have otherwise found.

So: take that class outside of your comfort zone, go to your roommate’s improv show (even if you have a paper due the next day), linger in the dining hall on weekends during brunch for so long that it becomes dinner, and don’t be afraid to tell your classmates that they’re important to you.

 


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