" My Kids at Yale "

Jim Long
Los Angeles, CA
October 14, 2005

My son, Ted Long, is a senior (JE-06) and my daughter, Allegra Long (Stiles-08) is a sophomore. I graduated a few weeks back in 1962 (Trumbull). When I hit Old Campus coming from Atlanta, it was all new for me. Before Yale, I had been to Florida and probably North Carolina, but that was it. I worked hard at Yale, too hard. One of my roommates, Dick Milstein, and I went out twice our freshman year. I think my son stayed in twice his freshman year. The same for Allegra, who had Tuesdays completely off. Many of those she spent going to NYC to take ballet lessons — not because she plans on being a professional dancer, but because she just loves to dance. Also she was in the Yale dance group. Plus she played two roles in "Company" (one a dance piece) as a freshman. Where the hell was my mind as a freshman? Stuck in a book. It took 8 years of analysis to loosen my screws.

Teddy ("Ted" on campus) spent his freshman year watching DVDs and playing multiplayer video games (I was later to find out). His mother (who happens also to be my dear and wonderful wife) and I visited his freshman year on parents' weekend. The last morning we were there, we met him at 11 am for brunch. He looked worn out. I told him he must be studying really hard (thinking of Yale as I had done it some 40+ years earlier). He said he was up to 7 am watching DVDs. I assumed they were class assignments but only in the new age tech format. The fact was he was having a hell of a good time — playing with his friends, taking a senior course on autism with a world figure in the area, getting himself a dynamite girlfriend, and still making the grades. It took me 10 years to develop the expansiveness that he and his sister grew into their first year at Yale.

The Longs

By his second year Ted had his head completely turned around by a bursting fascination with political science. By Christmas that year, I could barely carry on a conversation with him without his saying I really did not have the full story. That year he did two interviews for the undergrad journal The Politic — one with Oliver Stone and the other with Noam Chomsky. In his third year he founded The Yale Journal of Medicine and Law. He developed a political focus on the highly complicated and dead serious problem of the delivery of healthcare.

What was I doing back then? I think I had a date my junior year — a blind date, of course. A sweet girl from Massachusetts who outweighed me by about 80 lbs. But I did have a lot of fun with my roommates and fellow Trumbull buddies — especially the annual Beer and Bike race to Connecticut College of Women. This was a big deal because we had no girls at Yale until 1969. I could really ride fast and we had a winning team at least 2 of the years. I was better at riding than picking up on the girls at the end of the race. Anyway, I wonder why I did not get a fraction of the non-academic life that my kids are getting. Of course, I was an uptight guy afraid of girls, etc., etc.. (I made up for it in internship and psychiatric residency in many ways I refuse to put on paper!)

Both of my kids came to Yale with more open minds than did I, for sure. But they told me that in their freshman year in the first 3-4 months they got emails, phone calls, letters, and personal invitations for a myriad of activities. Yale changed. It has become so much more user friendly. It beckons the students to get involved with other students and activities. Rob Jackson, Yale admissions guru, repeatedly said, "We are there for you. Just ask. Whatever you need or want to explore can be done at Yale."

He is so right. My kids have profited from an outreach explosion by faculty, staff, and upper classpersons. I know from Ted and Allegra that this is not just happenstance. There has been a revolution which reflects much forethought and understanding of the mind of the undergraduates. There are countless mechanisms, pathways, or whatever you call them which put opportunity in the palm of your hand on a daily basis. Ted never dreamed of any political interests. He was approached by another student who opened a door for him which very likely will greatly impact his career path.

I loved Yale. I just wish I could do it again and in this vibrant atmosphere. All of us from the class of '62 know that youth is wasted on the young. But not really — my young ones are eating the place up and loving it. Seeing Ted and Allegra expanding at Yale has been one of the great pleasures of my life.

My best to all. Jim Long
(Jim's email address is jlongpscych@yahoo.com)

In Ted and Allegra's own words:

Since first stepping across the threshold of my freshman year dorm, I have changed in many ways. While Yale has allowed me to develop my individuality and cement certain aspects of my character, it has had a profound effect on many of my ambitions and perceptions of the world around me. I entered Yale with a firm, but narrow idea of what I wanted to accomplish in life: a brilliant career in medicine. My ambitions are now much broader, and extend to my fervent interest in American healthcare and the politics of medicine. Through Yale's unique opportunities that many before me have enjoyed, I have come into contact with some of the greatest thinkers and activists of our time, as well as some of the most accomplished college students in the country. Yale's most important quality is its ability to inspire its students to accomplish more than they believed they were capable of. Yale has given me a renewed confidence in my abilities, as well as an unforgettable college experience, for which I shall always be grateful.

To say that Yale is an inspiring environment is an understatement. As a dancer, I was incredibly nervous to start my career at Yale, assuming it would be difficult to find others who shared my passion, and anxious at the prospect of trying to articulate it to the people I would meet. What I found, however, was that not only are there other dancers at Yale, but the common bond between students at Yale is the passion I found so hard to put into words. Whether it is a passion for studying physical chemistry or writing satire, the intellectual curiosity that fills each and every student at Yale and the respect given and received by all members of the Yale community for the pursuit of that individual passion is the most fulfilling part of being at Yale. Personally, I saw myself as a physics major when I began college, and have instead found a place for myself studying mathematics and music. I have loved every second I have spent at Yale and am continually inspired to explore a new activity, study a new subject, or create something to inspire others.