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 Hi Fives (5 Highlights)  3-Minute Listen

Cleo Handler is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Theater.

Cleo’s passion and drive for the creative arts and theater was clearly evident in all her outside the class activities, the summer pursuits and her final thesis. She was able to harness the enormous Yale resources in pursuit of her ambitions.

Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:

  1. Yale - A Big Part of my Life
  2. Why Yale?
  3. Senior Year Project - A Musical
  4. Choosing Psychology Major
  5. Advice to Applicants: Be Yourself!

Episode Notes

Episode Title: Cleo Handler: Yale Paved the Road to becoming an Actor, Writer, Director.

Episode summary introduction: Growing up in Los Angeles, from a very young age, theater was a big part of Cleo’s life. She was very interested in Psychology and Neuroscience as well.

Cleo Handler is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Theater.

In particular, we discuss the following with her:

  • The Obsession with Theater
  • Why Yale?
  • Student Run Shows
  • Enriching Summer Experiences
  • Advice to Applicants

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introduction to Cleo Handler, Yale University [1:10]
  • Hi Fives - Podcast Highlights [1:58]
  • Yale - Big Part of my Life [5:56]
  • Theater Obsession Growing up [6:58]
  • Why Yale? [9:20]
  • Broad Interests in High School [11:03]
  • Transition to Yale [12:35]
  • Peers and Profs [14:45]
  • Residential Colleges - Mini Bubble [17:30]
  • Student Run Shows [19:37]
  • Being a Playwriting Mentor [21:19]
  • Summers - South Africa, NY, LA [22:45]
  • Choosing Psychology Major [25:31]
  • Being an Actor Creator [27:53]
  • A Yale Redo? [31:15]
  • Advice to Aspiring Students [33:26]
  • “The Energy of the Community” [35:18]

Our Guest: Cleo Handler is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Theater. After Yale, Cleo studied Acting at the William Esper Studio in New York. Cleo is now an Actor, Writer and Director in Brooklyn, New York.

Memorable Quote: Cleo’s characterization of Yale in the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald. “Yale is November, Crisp and Energetic”.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.

Calls-to-action:

Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

<Start Snippet> Cleo  0:21

You know, there's a, there's a quote from F Scott Fitzgerald that is, Yale is November, Crisp and Energetic. Uh huh.

And that just, that just feels so right on to me when I think back on college, I just, I feel like, you know, it's it's definitely for California and it's crisp. It”s cold, you need a jacket.

Yeah. but it's um, I just think about, the, the leaves falling and the snow and running around from Sterling Library to the dorms with your friends and bundling up for like  a long study session. And then, you know, running to the theater and staying there all night and working. And I just, it is, it is a very energetic place.

Venkat  1:10  [Introduction to Cleo Handler, Yale University]

Hi! Welcome to this episode of College Matters. Alma Matters.

Cleo Handler is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Theater.

Growing up in Los Angeles, from a very young age, theater was a big part of Cleo’s life. She was obsessed with theater.

She was very interested in Psychology and Neuroscience as well. So, the science became her backup plan, in case the theater didn’t work out.

We caught up with Cleo to talk about her journey through Yale University.

Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives,  Five Highlights from the podcast:

Cleo  1:58  [Highlights - Hi Fives]

[Yale - A Big Part of my Life]

It's pretty amazing. I double majored in psychology and eater. And that has really affected my life. And you know what, the kind of work I'm doing now? So yeah, I had a pretty incredible time at Yale, and I'm very grateful that I got to go there.

[Why Yale]

I think the the silly answer is, you know, I was obsessed with Gilmore Girls growing up. I think going to Yale had a bit of an influence on me, but but the real answer is that I wanted to go somewhere where I could really pursue, you know theater and making things. And Yale has an unbelievable drama department. Obviously, they're famous for it in their grad school, but the undergrad community is incredible.

[Senior Year Project - A Musical]

And as I mentioned, at one point, my senior project was working on a musical that I wrote with my friend, and that was, that was a huge part of my senior year was like writing and directing a full musical. And they were so supportive about that.

 

[Choosing Psychology Major]

I think for me, it was it was sort of about bravery, and about, like trying to do something that that I know it is it is very unpredictable, and very difficult. Whereas the Psych path well well super difficult as well felt more, you know, more more known to me. And so that was that was just like a pretty scary leap of faith. But it it ultimately was, was more aligned with what I wanted to do. But I, you know, I'm still, I'm writing a screenplay right now about a psychology grad student, and you know, it's a horror film.

[Advice to Applicants: Be Yourself!]

And be yourself and your writing materials, when you're applying, like, really write an essay that is on a topic you feel super passionate about. Because as far as I can tell, most of the people I knew at Yale were, yeah, were people who were very passionate about what they were doing, whether it was you know, being a tour guide, and being obsessed with architecture and talking about this one building for an hour or like someone who was like building a robot and is now working in AI and coding or someone who's composer and running their own music group.

Venkat Raman  4:16  

Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Cleo. So without further ado, over to Cleo Handler !

Cleo  4:27  

Hi,

Venkat Raman  4:27  

Hi, Cleo. How are you?

Cleo  4:30  

I'm okay. I'm getting a bit of a weird sound. Let me see. That might be a little better.

Venkat Raman  4:38  

I'm not hearing it. So I think we're good. So

Cleo  4:43  

Oh, actually, I'm so sorry. It's, it's very “staticy”.

Venkat Raman  4:47  

Oh, it is. Okay. So do you. Do you want to do it, do this on a laptop or,...

Cleo  4:55  

It is clear. It cleared up. That's much better.

Venkat Raman  4:58  

It's better.

Cleo  4:59  

Yes. I think was just getting connected. But this, this sounds a lot better.

Venkat Raman  5:03  

Fabulous. So let me start by welcoming you to our podcast, “College Matters. Alma Matters.

Cleo  5:10  

Thank you for having me.

Venkat Raman  5:11  

Yeah, really appreciate you making the time. Really eager to hear your Yale story. And you know, so that our audience, which is, as I told you is a, you know, collection of aspiring students from all over the world and would love to hear you know, your Yale experience and, where you went from there. So it's an exciting story and also love to hear it.

Cleo  5:37

Amazing.

Venkat Raman  5:38

Cool. So let me the best way to start is maybe looking back, and your overall impressions and experiences at Yale, What you think of it now, in the rearview mirror?

Cleo  5:56  [Yale - Big Part of my Life]

Well, let's see. I loved it, basically. I graduated from Yale in 2012, so, a few years ago, but it's still very fresh in my mind, and a lot of my friends, my closest friends now are still the people I met in college. So, it's a really big part of my life. And yeah, it was pretty amazing. I double majored in psychology and theatre. And that has really affected my life. And you know, what, the kind of work I'm doing now. So yeah, I had a pretty incredible time at Yale, and I'm very grateful that I got to go there.

Venkat Raman  6:34

Great.

Venkat Raman  6:39  

Um, so maybe the good place to start is why you chose Yale, but maybe before we do that, maybe the origins of your interest in theater, writing lyrics. sounds fascinating to me. So how did all that start?

Cleo  6:58  [Theater Obsession Growing up]

Um, well, I, I sort of, was obsessed with theater growing up, I, I played the Wicked Witch in a production of The Wizard of Oz that my school did in like fourth grade, but we changed it. So instead of the typical story, and ours, the Wicked Witch was looking for Dorothy's library card. And it was, it was very educational. And I just became, like, totally hooked, and I wanted to do something in the theater world, from then on, whether it be acting or writing or writing musicals. But I was, you know, I did all of that in high school, but I was sort of afraid about, you know, pursuing it officially. Sure

And I think that's, that's part of why I double majored and part of why I kind of split my time and energy in college try to make sure I had some sort of backup plan. But, you know, there were, like, so many opportunities for that kind of thing, that it was ridiculous, like, the support that they give to, to really all projects, but the arts specifically, like, you know, you can apply to a southern grant to get a $1,000 to put a play on in your basement if you want or, like, you know, they're, they're very, very amenable to that kind of thing.

So, yeah, I was, I was like, always making things and writing things. And then it was, I think, my junior year in college, when that switch flipped, and I sort of decided, like, instead of just doing this casually, I would actually start applying to grants and getting the support of the university to make things and really put a lot more of my energy into it.

And it was, it was amazing. I took a class called lyric writing for musical theater with Michael Korie, who wrote Grey Gardens and a bunch of Broadway shows. He's a huge deal. And I remember walking home from the class and just being like, mind blown that this was a thing someone could study. And this could be a job because it was just the most fun I've ever had in my life. Wow, this is unbelievable.

Remember, we made a class musical based on the movie Best in Show, you know, the dog show, And it was, it was so so silly. And yeah, that was, there was really no turning back for me after that.

Venkat Raman  9:10  

Okay, so let's go back to the beginning, then. And why did you pick Yale? How did that happen?

Cleo  9:20  [Why Yale?]

Um, it's funny that you asked because when I was at Yale, there was a viral video campaign that the admissions office made called, that's why I chose Yale, it’s like a musical number. So I always think about that.

But um, I think the the silly answer is, you know, I was obsessed with Gilmore Girls growing up going to Yale and a bit of an influence on me but but the real answer is that I wanted to go somewhere where I could really pursue you know, theater and making things and yeah, has an unbelievable drama department.

Obviously, they're famous for it in their grad school, but the undergrad community is incredible. And I wanted somewhere that was well balanced, and also super academic, because I didn't want to just go to a conservatory, and again, only have that option. And when I visited Yale, I remember just feeling like first of all, you know, it looks like a castle and enchanting, but it really felt like the students there were super passionate and balanced in their activities, instead of the vibe that I got at other schools, which was a bit more single minded or competitive.

You know, it just, it felt, it felt very exciting and inviting.

Venkat Raman  10:44  

No, that, that makes sense.

Venkat Raman  10:52  

So you mentioned about high school? I think theater was obviously a big part of your life. What what are the other interests that you pursued?

Cleo  11:03  [Broad Interests in High School]

Um, so I, let's see, I grew up in Los Angeles. So um, yeah, I mean, I was doing a lot of like, plays and music, And I was never much of a singer. But I always loved writing music, songs and stuff. So that was something that I did in high school. But additionally I played sports, and I was a gymnast.

And at Yale, actually, I wasn't on the official gymnastics team. But I did take a tumbling class at the gym. So, they really have everything.

But I also, I was a little bit more of a scientist in high school, and I think that's, you know, when I started Yale, I was pre med. And I think that that was an interesting transition. And a lot of it had to do with I think me, like, like I said, sort of admitting that what I really wanted to do was, act and write and being afraid.

But, but yeah, I was very into chemistry and math and, and psychology. And, and there, there were so many opportunities at Yale to pursue that, that I, that was really cool to like, all the neuroscience classes, I was able, that I dreamed about in high school, I was able to take in college and and I loved them.

Venkat Raman  12:18  

Awesome.

Venkat Raman  12:25  

So let's sort of, So, you know, you arrive at Yale, how was that transition from high school to college? How was the first year?

Cleo  12:35  [Transition to Yale]

Um, you know, I think academically, coming from a prep school, that was pretty intense. You know, I took a lot of APs. And I was like, always at the kitchen table working. I was amazed by the free time that I had in college and the flexibility, not saying that your classes were easy, because of course, they weren't.

But it was like, it was nuts that I, I could finish class at at 3pm, and just be done. Until I had play practice at seven. And it was like, Oh, I can just hang out with my friends and go to the library. And I was, I was far less schedules my freshman year than I had been in high school. And that was a real relief.

Venkat Raman  13:17  

So, Otherwise, the classes were challenging, but nothing that you couldn't sort of handle.

Cleo  13:24  

Yeah, I did feel like I, I preferred the smaller, you know, more supportive, more intimate classes I did, I do remember thinking that the lectures were a bit overwhelming. And just it just in that, you know, you have to, you have to really make sure you stay on top of things on your own and make a relationship with your TA.

And when you meet in section, which is like the you know, the smaller group, make sure that you're really understanding everything because in the the giant lecture, you can sort of get lost.

Yeah, so I'm coming from like a smaller school, that was a thing to think about. But the only other challenge I really remember freshman year, which is funny to think about now in the middle of a pandemic, but I remember getting colds a lot, because there's like all these kids suddenly and you're on your own and you're like, not sleeping as well. So, I don't know, take your vitamins, kids.

Venkat Raman  14:20  

So you said, you said you went in as a pre med so you probably took a lot of those courses or pre med courses. And, and then how are your peers in class? I mean, the pre med classes and what, what were the students like? You mentioned, you know, the passion and the energy of the students. What was...

Cleo  14:45  [Peers and Profs]

Yeah, it was it was great. I mean, I think there everyone was working really hard everyone was the pre med classes were a lot earlier in the day than regular classes. So remember, like, you know, everyone was getting up early and walking to science Hill as they call it. And, yeah, I took, like, I sort of jumped ahead into a higher level chemistry class, which was was challenging and was really fun. Uh huh.

I do, like I said, I think that, the, the lecture format is a bit more challenging because you have to, you just have to make sure that you're really self motivating and staying on top of everything, because it's, it's easier to get lost, but the kids were great. And everyone was like, you know, it was people were working hard, but it didn't feel cutthroat. It felt like, you know, a community.

Venkat Raman  15:35  

Sure Okay. So how was the, how was the teaching? How were the profs?

Cleo  15:40  

They were good. I, I did I think, like in those more, you know, in the more like chemistry 118 classes and like the the sort of things, you have to take the requirements, you do spend a lot of time working with teaching fellows and teaching assistants who are grad students.

So I, I I somehow, like didn't make a huge connection or a deep relationship with my science professors. And I think that might be part of why I ended up moving towards theater. And I think like, thinking back on it, that's something that I definitely could have made more of an effort to do is to like really go to office hours and connect and feel like I was more integrated in in like their classes.

Whereas in the in the smaller arts classes, you know, your you really know your professors and they know you really deeply so. So yeah, it's nothing against the department, but I do think that, you have to you have to know that going in and and make the effort to to get the individual attention, especially in your your freshman year.

Venkat Raman  16:46  

Yeah. I mean that makes sense. And so, so most of the bigger classes, were lectures with recitation or breakout sessions, or however you call that, right. And yes, okay.

Cleo  16:57  

And labs, and yeah, that was fun. You got paired up with your lab partner, and you're working on some cool experiment and later on, there are more research opportunities. And I did some very cool semester long lab courses, like my junior and senior year, but at the beginning, yeah, it's more standard stuff.

Venkat Raman  17:19  

Nice. So let's sort of move to the campus life. And maybe we could start with the residential colleges, the food and the social.

Cleo  17:30  [Residential Colleges - Mini Bubble]

Yeah. Um, so Yale has this, this residential college system, where they assign you as a college at the beginning. And it's sort of like your Harry Potter house. Right, You would you stick with throughout, you can change if you want to, but I was with Saybrook loved it and it did not change. And it was great.

It's like a little mini bubble within the the bigger University. So you can like you know, there's high forget now probably about 100 students in your year in your college. So a lot easier to to get to know the group, right.

And then you're assigned a freshmen counselor. And, you know, that person helps look out for you and show you the lay of the land. And it's amazing. It was so fun, because most of the freshmen are together on old campus, which is, you know, an area where everybody lives.

And then your sophomore year, you're able to move into the college proper and live with all the upperclassmen. And they all have like, different amenities.

So, you know, Saybrook had the Underbrook, which was our theater, which was like, awesome, and I did my senior project there, and it was a dream. But you know, we also had like a kitchen and one of the other ones had a screening room and all sorts of basketball courts, and, you know, they all have their perks, and you can access all of them, but you do have some serious college pride. Sure, sure.

And the food was good, there's, there's, you know, food, there's dining halls in every college and I thought it was awesome, and they say, openly you can get like cereal and snacks for the dining halls. I mean, for the libraries, because they all have, they all have their individual libraries as well as the University Libraries too.

So I spent a lot of time in the Saber as we called it, eating like Cocoa Puffs and studying three in the morning.

Venkat Raman  19:21  

Sounds, Sounds really nice and almost nostalgic now.

Venkat Raman  19:29  

So how were the campus activities, the clubs, the organizations and...?

Cleo  19:37  [Student Run Shows]

They were great, for me, like I the my freshman year I remember doing a bunch of auditions for the drummat, which is like the the more organized theatre group that is like college funded and they bring in outside directors and stuff and that was fun, but I really had a, And even better, more exciting time when I got involved in just the student run shows. So you know, you can leave the main organization and audition for a, you know, I did a Rocky Horror Picture Show production that was an all female cast and crew and band. We performed on Halloween. And it was it was just like, super, super fun. And then as I mentioned, at one point, my senior project was working on a musical that I wrote with my friend and that was, that was a huge part of my senior year was like writing and directing a full musical. And they were so supportive about that. But yeah, outside of theater, like there's, there's tons of sports and clubs and there's all sorts of interest groups and I did you know, a lot of music stuff and attending lots of concerts and a lot of people saying at Yale’s there's a lot of like acapella improv and, you know, whatever you could want, you can always start a club. It's, it's pretty supportive.

Venkat Raman  21:04  

I noticed that you did some mentoring, the O'Neill Playwriting Mentor, so, yeah, tell me about it.

Cleo  21:19  [O’Neill Playwriting Mentor]

Um, that was, that was really cool. That was my junior and senior year, it actually was a work study experience as well, so it was a great way to like have a campus job, but it was exactly what I was interested in, which was, we were able to, so like, writers were able to sign up.

And if you, you know, were selected, you were able to mentor high school students at the local school called CoOp School of the Arts. Uh huh.

And then in turn, we were mentored by playwrights in the Yale School of Drama. So it was like a three part mentorship program, and we were in the middle. Sure.

And then we went to the O'Neill Theater, which is in Connecticut. It's like a world renowned theater for new play development. And we got to spend a weekend there each semester working on our shows and helping the high school students develop theirs, and I got paid. So it was, it was pretty amazing.

Venkat Raman  22:14  

No, that sounds like a great program. I mean, yeah, it's almost like a bartering system. But they're getting, you're getting paid too. So that's pretty good.

Cleo  22:21  

Yeah. And the person who was my mentor from Yale School of Drama, has, you know, she's a few years older, and she's been taking Broadway by storm. So a lot of good people were involved. Fabulous.

Venkat Raman  22:36  

So, So what did you, what did you do during the summers? Was it more theater? Or did you do different things?

Cleo  22:45  [Summers - South Africa, NY, LA]

Um, you know, it was, it was a bit of a mix.

I guess, the first semester, or the first year, like I said, I was, I was pre med. And then I kind of wanted to find a way to combine some of those interests and work towards, you know, maybe think about public health and thinking about theater and if there were ways to combine them.

And I found this incredible Yale summer course that I got credit for, which was called Arts and Public Health in Action: Study of HIV/AIDS in Swaziland. And I went to South Africa and Swaziland for the summer, and we worked with an organization called Clowns Without Borders.

And we did clowning. Which means we basically had to, you know, develop our clown personas, studying all these texts about public health and about the HIV AIDS crisis. And then we would like, work with some local school groups trying to do like, educational performances for the kids, and we visited some hospitals and worked with mothers2mothers, which is an organization that, like, educates HIV positive mothers to be nurses within the community to help destigmatize.

And now that was incredible. Also, like being a clown and Swaziland was something I'd never expected.

But then, yeah, one summer I went to New York and studied at the William Esper Studio, which is an acting program.

And then another summer I got an internship through Yale at Hasbro toy company in LA. But it was you know, that it was like in the film division, so I was reading all the scripts about like, you know, future movies, they were trying to adapt, like Jumanji or Yeah, Twister or whatever. And giving notes and driving around in a golf cart on the universal lot. So that, that was really fun.

Venkat Raman  24:43  

Sounds like a really diverse, eclectic set of experiences.

Cleo  24:48  

And I was doing some more scientific things on on campus. I feel like I'm only talking about theater but like, there are you know, I was doing an internship at like a local school for children with autism.

And I was working in the music classroom for a semester. And then one semester, I was working in a child development, preschool in New Haven, and one semester, I was working in a lab in the med school and like behavioral psych. So there's so there's all sorts of stuff you can do.

Venkat Raman  25:20  

Now, that's, you know, really very rich, very diverse experiences on campus there.

Cleo  25:26  

Yeah.

Venkat Raman  25:31  [Choosing Psychology Major]

So maybe that sort of leads me into this question of how, you know, how did you pick psych as a major? And how did you, and also quite interested in listening to how you ended up making a decision to go, to lean into theater in a big way, like you said, after your sophomore in the junior year.

So some sense, some perspective on that would be great.

Cleo  25:57  

And well, growing up, I was always really interested in in psychology and neuroscience and setting the way the brain works. So something that that really, really interests me. I took, you know, AP Psychology in high school, and I loved it. I was always reading like Oliver Sacks books.

I think, ultimately, I remember one moment, my freshman spring where I was sitting in the car with my stepdad. And I was just, I just, like, out of nowhere started crying, and I wasn't really sure what was going on. Like, like, what's happening? And I was just like, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know what to do. And he was like, do you just, do you just want to act, is that what's going on.

So I think, oh, I think for me, it was it was sort of about bravery, and about, like, trying to do something that I, that I know is, is very unpredictable, and very difficult.

Whereas the, the Psych[ology] path, while, while super difficult as well, felt more, you know, more more known to me. And so that was, that was just like a pretty scary leap of faith.

But it ultimately was, was more aligned with what I wanted to do. But I, you know, I'm still, I'm writing a screenplay right now about a psychology grad student, and, you know, it's a horror film. And so I'm still involving a lot of that knowledge in my life and in my work.

Venkat Raman  27:24  

So, yeah, you know, you've had a pretty amazing career so far as an artist after Yale. So, tell us about it. I mean, how does it? How did it all come about? Or, obviously, there's a lot more to happen.

But it gives us a sense of, you know, you mentioned earlier, the, the uncertainty of theater, I guess, was kind of what we're talking about, how has it been and what would you recommend?

Cleo  27:53  [Being an Actor Creator]

Well, I will say that when I graduated, I felt like, I had a ton of experience making art with my friends. Um, and also a ton of experience in terms of the classes that I've taken, which were, you know, I took a lot of playwriting and theater history and Shakespeare and I did take acting classes, but like I said, it was a little less than conservative conservatory focus, more like, you know, broad.

So, so I felt when I graduated, I felt like I still wanted a bit of literal training of like, getting more comfortable with auditions and with like, the real world aspects of being an actor. So I, I continue to studying and I did the two year program at the Esper Studio that I mentioned.

And I also auditioned for and joined the BMI, musical theater writing workshop in New York City, which is an amazing launching platform for Broadway writers.

o that's all about like, developing full musicals.

So yeah, but but I think what Yale gave me that a lot of my peers in New York did not have is this this really strong sense that like, if the system is frustrating, or I'm sick of auditioning for other people or not hearing back I can just do my own thing.

And, and that that's like an unbelievable skill. And I think what the industry is really moving towards these days, especially with like, you know, the all these writer, actor creators like Phoebe Waller-Bridge made Fleabag and, you know, all these like Issa Rae, all these incredible people out there making their own materials.

So I think like, being at Yale and having that support, and and working with incredibly talented, smart collaborators just kind of gave me the sense that like, yeah, like, you know, I did work on a TNT show a few years ago in New York, which was a dream, but then when we didn't get a second season and that was cancelled, it was like Okay, I can just like keep auditioning forever and more. Or I can like make a short film and then try to turn that into a feature and then try to, you know, turn something else into a web series.

And and I think that, yeah, that sense of like DIY creation has, been has been a really helpful tool for me.

Venkat Raman  30:22  

So it feels like you feel like you're in control, I guess, is what you're saying.

Cleo  30:27  

Yes, small, small senses of control, in an uncontrollable field, you know, it's like, you can write something and make it on a low budget with your collaborators, many of whom I know, from college, and submitted to festivals and get it out into the world directly that way, and then use that material for your real and, and send it to agents and and, you know, just not being being more self reliant, has been huge.

Venkat Raman  30:54  

No, that's, you know, obviously, you have a great gift. And I'm sure you're taking full advantage of that. And wish you all the best on this. Oh, yeah. I hope to hear a lot about about you,

Cleo  31:11

Thank you. Same.

Venkat Raman  31:15  [A Yale Redo?]

So let's sort of jump back to Yale, and I'm going to ask you a question.

You know, you did a lot of diverse and a lot of interesting things while you were at Yale. If you were to go back through those four years again, what are the kinds of things you would do differently? I mean, one of the things now looking back, you feel like you could have done more of or less of? Otherwise?

Cleo  31:38  

I mean, there are always classes that you want to take that you didn't get to take. Right.

You know, I I think if I had now I would probably ideal, you take like usually nine classes a year, sort of four one semester, five the next. Now I'm like, I would take five every semester. take more classes.

But I think I think the biggest one that I think about is, you know, I have some friends from college who made very deep lasting relationships with a lot of their professors. And I think, you know, there are probably two who I'm still in contact with on a regular basis, and who I love and admire and like see their work in New York, but I was a little bit shy about that. I don't know why. And I wish I had been, you know, had seen my professors more as, as potential friends and and collaborators and obviously, people I respected but I could like get lunch with. Yeah

Instead of just sort of seeing them as the more high school model of like, thanks for the class bye you know,

Venkat Raman  32:43  

Right. Right. That's a great insight, actually, I think this I hear quite often. So

Cleo  32:50

really?

Venkat Raman  32:50

yeah. Yeah, it's amazing. I do think that it is changing so fast now that people do feel that that should be a two way relationship. But yeah. Very nice.

Venkat Raman  33:09

So, so now, I'm going to ask you for advice for aspiring students, once you want to apply to Yale or any of the top colleges. What would your advice be to these folks?

Cleo  33:26  [Advice to Aspiring Students]

Ah, man, I think that the main, main bit of advice I would give is just to really be yourself and your writing materials when you're applying, like, really write an essay that is on a topic you feel super passionate about, because as far as I can tell, most of the people I knew at Yale were, yeah, were people who were very passionate about what they were doing, whether it was you know, being a tour guide and being obsessed with architecture and talking about this one building for an hour or like, someone who was like building a robot and is now working in AI and coding or someone who's composer and running their own music group. I think like, I you know, I've done some tutoring over the past few years, I think that's a great thing also about going to a school like Yale is that you you can always support yourself in that way but, and I think that a lot of students tend to write something that they think will be, you know, impressive or do what they they think people want to see. And I really think that in Yale, it's it's all about just like having a fresh, unique, mature perspective that shows like some self reflection and maybe a little bit of humor and not being afraid to show who you are.

Venkat Raman  34:59  

Cool. So we are sort of nearing the end of our podcast. So, you know, I'd like anything that you want to talk about any memories or anything we might not have covered that you think might be relevant or interesting or just interesting.

Cleo  35:18  [“The Energy of the Community”]

Oh, memories, you're making me feel nostalgic. You know, there's a there's a quote from F Scott Fitzgerald that is, Yale is November Crisp and Energetic.

And that just, that just feels so right on to me when I think back on college, I just, I feel like, you know, it's it's definitely for California, and it's Crisp. It is cold, you need a jacket.

Yeah. But it's, I just think about like, the, the leaves falling and the snow and running around from Sterling Library, to the dorms with your friends and bundling up for like a long study session, and then, you know, running to the theater and staying there all night and working. And I just, it is, it is a very energetic place. And yeah, that's really what I valued the most about it, was the energy of the community.

Venkat Raman  36:15  

Well, this is, this has been great, Cleo. Both, you know, energetic as well and exciting, and really, really interesting. So I think this will be extremely beneficial to all those aspiring students out there. So I really thank you again for taking the time.

Cleo  36:38  

Of course, it's my pleasure, and I wish them all luck.

Venkat Raman  36:42  

Thank you, and I'm sure we'll talk more but for now, take care and be safe. Thank you.

Cleo  36:49

You too.

Venkat Raman  36:49

Yep. Bye Bye.

Venkat  36:57

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Cleo Handler about Yale University.

Cleo’s passion and drive for the creative arts and theater was clearly evident in all her outside the class activities, the summer pursuits and her final thesis. She was able to harness the enormous Yale resources in pursuit of her ambitions.

I hope Cleo’s story inspires you to explore Yale for your own college pursuits.

For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [podcast@almamatters.io].

Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.

Many thanks to the Counseling firm Admissionado for introducing me to today’s guest, Cleo Handler.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters] to check us out.

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you!

Summary Keywords

US Colleges, College Admissions, Yale University, Extracurricular, International Students, Senior Project Musical, Yale School of Drama, Psychology, Theater, Clowns without Borders, O’Neill Playwriting Mentor, Broadway, AP Psychology.


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