Alumni Profiles

Ciara Ortiz (2019-2020) loved her CTW experience, and would recommend it to other students. Her time in the program opened her up to new kinds of reading, like Plato! Her peers challenged her to think differently, while her professors and RTAs helped improve her writing. Ciara continues to use the plentiful skills she gained during CTW in her work at LEAP, a nonprofit organization providing free summer opportunities for New Haven youth. Just as CTW assisted her during her college application process, Ciara mentors high school seniors as well. Ciara is currently a rising first-year at Yale University.

Advice to the incoming cohort: “Take in the experience. The experience as a high school student is very unique and you don’t really get to do this until you get to college. Be present.”

Mediaka Ntungu (2018-2019) is grateful for the skills he gained from CTW, including time management and balancing a workload with social activities. For him, the experience was eye-opening. Not only did he learn from his peers, but he also became more knowledgeable about the importance of New Haven. By defining civic life during CTW, Mediaka understood the significance of serving his community. Mediaka is now a sophomore at the University of Connecticut, and intends to major in computer science.

His advice to the incoming cohort: “Discipline yourself to get your work done. It’s the most important thing.”

Henry Seyue (2017-2018) credits CTW as being one of the most meaningful experiences of his high school career. The program was pivotal in reshaping his critical thinking and study habits. His most cherished memories include the seminar-style classes, and the thoughtful discussions that led him to reflect on his existence in society. Now a political science major at the University of Connecticut, Henry also attended Benedict College, where he was the school’s first recipient of the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship. After transferring to the University of Connecticut, Henry became an Honors Congressional Intern for Senator Richard Blumenthal. Through his involvement with CTW, Henry learned about the Teagle Humanities Fellowship and Yale Law School’s Access to Law School Program. In 2020, he was selected for both opportunities.  In October 2022, Henry was invited to read the Langston Hughes’s poem, “I, Too,” at the opening ceremony of the National Endowment for the Humanities’s prestigious Jefferson Lecture. 

His advice to the incoming cohort: “Come in prepared to unlearn. As much as CTW is a learning experience, it’s also an unlearning one. Take the opportunity to shed those academic habits that aren’t good. Be prepared to improve! “

Tiana Hill (2016-2017) truly enjoyed her CTW experience, and is thankful for the head start in college-level reading and thinking! The program was intensive, but she credits this intellectual exploration with bringing her cohort together in support and friendship. As a life-long Elm City student, Tiana was pleasantly surprised to check out places she’d never been prior to CTW, including an ancient burial site under the New Haven Green. She misses the program, but loves attending alumni meetings and staying in touch with friends as she continues her own scientific research. Tiana is now a senior at Spelman College, pursuing dual BS/MS degrees in biology and neuroscience.

Her advice to the incoming cohort: “During the program, when you’re in conversations about really intense topics, it’s important to hear the other side. Listen to understand, not to respond.”

Ashaleigh Carrington (2016-2017) remembers her CTW experience with great joy! During the program, she was introduced to philosophical texts, and engaged with these new ideas while being challenged to think critically. She cherishes the ongoing support and encouragement from CTW faculty, keeping in close contact with her mentors and peers. Ashaleigh even won the Teagle Fellowship– an exciting scholarship she learned about through CTW — and is currently writing an essay centered around texts by Black authors. She continues to apply the knowledge and insight she gained from her time in the program by working as a New Haven Community Ambassador, bettering her community through her love for theater and art. Ashaleigh is now a senior at the University of Connecticut, double majoring in English and history.

Her advice to the incoming cohort: “Be passionate and honest with this opportunity, take the time to learn from these great professors, and know they care as much about your education as you do. Be willing to expand yourself, this program is here to help you become a better citizen.”