2017 Leaders

Co-Directors: 

Olivia Paschal is a senior history major from Rogers, Arkansas, celebrated internationally as the cultural capital of northwestern Arkansas. She is interested in local policy, religion, and getting to the bottom of just how people in the past met up places without cell phones. Like, did they just give each other super specific directions and just hope the other person would show up? Was everyone hyper-punctual back then, or just more trusting? On campus, Olivia frequently wakes up at 6 AM to do work at Starbucks and live-blogs Big and Important Things for The Politic. She owns several cows — Fortney, Lyman, William F. Buckley, and Ecclesiastes — all of which she swears to love equally. But like most post-conservative radical anti-anti-anti-anti-Trump contrarians, she lies. The most important people in her life are Hannah Schmitt and Graham Ambrose—without them, Yale would be nothing, just a snowflake shedding white precipitate into the ether. She likes sunny days on Cross Campus, Saybrook College dining hall, and deplorability, and believes that everyone can and should engage in productive, empowering service in New Haven.

Margaret Kellogg is a goofy junior in TD who is proud of having gone to Washington, DC public schools. She is beyond excited to co-direct FOCUS on New Haven (see image to the left). Margaret is also on the board of Community Health Educators and Habitat for Humanity at Yale—two fantastic service organizations that you should join. She is a sociology major concentrating in health, hoping to study the intersection of public health, medicine, and social justice. She loves to talk about all things related to mental health and sexuality, including her project to 3D-print clitorises (clitori?) in the Center for Engineering and Design. She gives great hugs; asks deep, probing questions; and loves the smell of pine needles. Come to her with any questions and worries you may have.

Freshleaders (leaders of incoming first-year students):

Liam Riley is a friend you want to have, but he is picky. You better talk with him about Blackness, queerness, inequality, or mental health if you want him to like you. Liam did FOCUS last year as a transfer student and astounded everyone on the program with his breadth of knowledge and edgy sense of humor. He transferred to Yale from Columbia, and is now upset that so many of Yale’s great female professors of color are leaving to work at Columbia. We really lucked out by getting Liam because now he graces us with his angelic voice while performing for the a cappella group Mixed Company. His sense of style is off the charts (he turned a bracelet into a fashionable earring). Liam frequently pulls all-nighters, throws shade at white men on Facebook at 3AM, and punctuates every sentence with “YIKES.”
Ashlynn Torres is a rising junior from Southern California majoring in the History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health. You can find her avoiding the cold by staying in Davenport College (the best residential college) for the entire winter. Otherwise, she can be found working as a Community Health Educator in New Haven, a Peer Wellness Champion on campus, or at her job at the Peabody Museum Gift Shop. She’s a big fan of warm weather, nectarines, eggs with runny yolks, and meme culture. She’s also a Gemini and doesn’t understand why the internet hates Geminis so much. She did FOCUS as a sophomore, and is going to be living in New Haven this summer with FOCUS co-director and really amazing human Margaret Kellogg. She can’t wait to introduce a group of first years to this awesome city! 
This is Calvin Jahnke. He enjoys long walks on the New Haven Green, deep conversations about service, and ice cream. He is an economics and mathematics major but has the incessant need to add “for anything but finance” to that title. When he’s not in his suite playing Mario Kart you can find him nowhere else because all he does is play Mario Kart. But sometimes the Yale Precision Marching Band  and serving the New Haven community brings him out of his room. He is excited to share his loves with incoming First-Year students.
Elayna Garner is an all-around glamorous and fantastic person in Timothy Dwight college. From Grand Rapids, Michigan, she loves dogs, babies, and chilling at the beach.  On campus, Elayna has been involved in Sister Insider (an incredible student band), Yale dance theater, and Alpha Phi Sorority! Elayna participated in FOCUS before her freshman year and has continued to be involved in Dwight Hall ever since. 
“I can’t wait to meet all of YOU prefrosh! Woot woot!” she said, amid a crowd of her adoring fans.
Elias Mastakouris is a rising sophomore from Sea Cliff, New York, interested in studying international security and American politics. Some of his accomplishments at Yale include doing a cartwheel in a Moose costume at the Pep Rally (go Stiles) and holding the record on his suite’s dart board. In New Haven, Elias serves as a tutor for Squash Haven and volunteers for representative in the city government. He is really excited to promote civic engagement and service in the Elm City during FOCUS!
Katarina Wang is a rising sophomore in Timothy Dwight College majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. This picture of Katarina struggling to lift a dog highlights a current fascination of hers: making gains. Even though she has only been to the gym three times as of the end of her first year, she hopes to change her ways and one day become strong enough to lift an elephant. On campus, Katarina is the Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Global Health Review and volunteers with the Hypertension Awareness and Prevention Program at Yale. Last year as an incoming first-year, she participated in FOCUS and loved every moment of it. She’s very excited to be a FOCUS leader so that she can help create a welcoming, rewarding, and engaging FOCUS experience for her first-years. 

Keera Annamaneni is a rising sophomore in TD from East Brunswick, New Jersey. She feels privileged to live in a small town that has one park but 7 Dunkin Donuts joints. Priorities are important. Keera loves to write—but only sometimes coherently—and works on The Politic and the Yale Historical Review. Her first love was her 7-pound dog who is affectionately named Dog. She can say the alphabet backwards and is proud of the non-alcoholic port wine stain on her leg. She is a prospective Political Science major, mainly because it’s the only STEM-sounding major she is capable of obtaining. If you want to bond with Keera, she loves long walks on the New Haven Green—and she is excited to meet all the incoming first-years!

IMG_2551.JPG Maryanne Cosgrove is a rising sophomore in Timothy Dwight College from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (the best residential college and East Coast city, respectively). While not at Glee Club rehearsal, Maryanne is often spotted finishing CS psets in Bass Cafe late at night, eating Strawberry Poptarts and dancing to obscure choral music. She is grateful for YouTube binge watching sessions, good conversations, debates about linguistics, the sisters of KKG, and nice coffee mugs. A former FOCUS first-year, Maryanne can’t wait to introduce the Class of 2021 to Yale, New Haven, and their new FOCUS family.
Molly Ono is a rising sophomore who only looks like she knows what she’s doing. Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, she craves anything matcha or green-tea related. When not struggling to learn the Japanese language, she can be found in the School of Art, splattering paint and ruining her clothes. Hit her up at the Ezra Stiles buttery for the best (free, if you’re nice) buffalo chickendillas of your life. As a previous FOCUSer, she’s beyond excited to introduce the new class of first years to Yale and to New Haven.

Shruti Baxi is a rising sophomore in Silliman College with an interest in Cognitive Science and Economics. Before coming to Yale, she’d bingewatched the equivalent of 1098 hours of TV, and since coming to Yale, she’s accomplished nothing nearly as impressive. In an effort to ensure that she didn’t peak in high school, Shruti’s a member of the Yale Debate Association, a fierce air hockey competitor, a research assistant with the Yale Psychology department, and a board member for the Urban Debate League and Yale Undergraduate Legal Aid Association. Originally from a suburb of Chicago, Shruti was first introduced to New Haven through FOCUS before her first year and is incredibly excited to pass along the experience.

Serena Ly is a rising sophomore in Branford College (THE BEST COLLEGE AT YALE #BFA) from Southern California. Valley girls and surfer dudes where you at? Serena loves hiking and running, and you can catch her outside or in Bass, Bass, or Bass. She enjoys spending time at Yale outside of Bass in Dwight Hall, where she is one of the Freshmen-in-Service Co-Coordinators, teaching as a Community Health Educator, and chilling with her YSEED team and Kappa sisters. Feel free to hit her up for a chat, especially if you want to perfect that Valley Girl accent! 
Angela Jin is a rising junior from North Jersey, and she’s unabashedly excited to be in the brand new Pauli Murray college! She spends most of her time at Yale being a confused pre-med with an elusive major. Once in a while, she’s involved as a coordinator in the Student Technology Collaborative, a member of Elmseed, a skater in the Figure Skating Club, and a dancer in Rangeela, Yale’s Bollywood fusion team. You can usually find her behind the bookcases in Bass tagging her friends in memes or sketching buildings when it’s nice outside. She cannot wait to meet more Yalies and engage in service in this incredible city!

Sophleaders (leaders of incoming transfers and rising sophomores): 

Me’Lena Laudig is a rising junior from a town smack dab in the middle of the Texas Panhandle. In this town, she was constantly tormented by phenomena such as tornadoes, dust storms, golf ball-sized hail, and tumbleweeds. It’s a wonder she made it out alive honestly. On campus, find her eating buffalo chicken quesadillas with ranch and frequenting several coffee shops per day. Occasionally, she majors in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and Religious Studies, leads worship in her faith community, sings with her a capella group, gets involved in theater, and mentors high school students through the college process. She believes in the value of service and can’t wait to see what wonderful things Focus 2017 has in store!
Hacibey Catalbasoglu hails from New Haven, CT by way of some village in Northern Turkey that you probably can’t pronounce. Speaking of pronunciation, if his last name intimidates you, good — it intimidates him too. He studies political science, but came to Yale as a glowing environmental engineering hopeful. Much to his surprise, he found out that he could not count, so he chose political science. Whenever he’s not building the Yale-New Haven relationship, you can find Haci in Derby Connecticut dazzling onlookers with his impeccable form and grace on the Men’s Heavyweight Crew team. When he’s not stealing your heart or improving society, Haci is intensely arguing with delegates from various different schools around the country on the Model UN circuit. He also does important works at the City Hall. If you have any questions or just need someone to talk to, contact him at (203) 212-7686 ;)

Hannah Schmitt is an INFJ, senior anthropology major, and gemini from Durham, North Carolina. On campus, she writes, debates, and organizes. In 2012 she penned what is now the 14th most-read fanfiction in the entire Sherlock fandom according to number of hits on Archive of Our Own. Dislikes: phone calls, 95 percent of memes, people who say that Bass Cafe is not a good place to hang out. Likes: people who agree that Bass Cafe is a great place to hang out, musical theater, 5 percent of memes. Do not make her listen to “good” music. She is extremely excited for FOCUS. 

Graham Ambrose is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College from northern Illinois passionate about service, Cracklin’ Oat Bran®, music, and the Chicago Cubs. When not drafting pieces for The Yale Record or The Yale Daily News, Graham writes speeches for New Haven Mayor Toni Harp. He is incredibly excited to help introduce civic-minded first-years to America’s Greatest Small City.

Tom Chu is a rising junior from the suburbs of Boston interested in education, climate change, and prison abolition. He works with the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project (YUPP) and has some experience organizing in New Haven. In his free time, he likes to play ultimate frisbee, meditate, and call his friends on the phone. Sometimes, his mom wishes he called her as much as he calls his friends.

Topiltzin Gomez A.K.A Tp is a rising senior in the illustrious and fresh Grace Hopper College, majoring in Ethics, Politics, and Economics. He was born in Oaxaca, Mexico but his ride-or-die home since age five is Waukegan, Illinois. He is often seen working on MEChA de Yale projects, mastering the art of cooking the best Chicken Quesadilla ever to grace a buttery, or stressing about neoliberalism. His favorite place on campus is a slightly hidden pond on top of Science Hill where the goldfish and reeds coexist. Having done FOCUS before his sophomore year, he knows exactly what he is getting himself into and cannot wait for others to experience the unique space of friendship, community, and intentional service that is FOCUS.