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10 Yale University Notable Alumni You Need to Know About

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Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University is a member of the esteemed Ivy League. The prestigious school tied for the #3 ranking in the U.S. News’ 2020 Best College Rankings. In addition to the university’s stunning reputation, Yale University students have access to an impressive alumni network. Some of the notable alumni are people you may recognize from the news, TV, and your history textbooks. Keep reading to learn about the most famous Yale University alumni from different walks of life.


10 Yale University Notable Alumni 


1. Jodie Foster

Class Year: 1985

Known For: Academy Award-Winning Actress

Franz Richter, CC BY-SA 2.5


Jodie Foster is a famous actress, director, and producer, receiving two Academy Awards as well as British Academy Film Awards and Emmy Awards. She grew up as a child actor, making appearances in many television shows and films. As she got older, she took a break and attended Yale University to study Literature. She wrote her thesis on Toni Morrison and graduated magna cum laude in 1985. Some of her famous roles were in features like Freaky Friday (1976), The Accused, and The Silence Of The Lambs. 


2. Chris Cuomo

Class Year: 1992

Known For: American Television Journalist 

Senator Chris Coons, public domain.


If you or your parents watch CNN, you may recognize Chris Cuomo from his weeknight news analysis show, Cuomo Prime Time. He is a part of the famous Cuomo family. His father is the former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and his brother is the current New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo. His time at Yale was a stepping stone to an illustrious career in journalism, though he went and got a J.D. from Fordham university directly after graduating from Yale. He’s been the Chief Law and Justice Correspondent and the co-anchor of ABC’s 2020, and he was an anchor on the morning show New Day. 


3. Ben Silbermann

Class Year: 2003

Known For: Co-Founder, Pinterest

Anya, CC BY 2.0


If you like Pinterest, the photo-based social media engine, you have Ben Silbermann to thank for the entertainment and inspiration you have gotten from the platform. He graduated from Yale in 2003 with a degree in Political Science, after which he promptly went to work for Google. During his time there, he started designing his own iPhone apps. One particular pinboard product, inspired by his love of collecting as a kid, would eventually become the billion-dollar company that millions of people use today.


4. Fareed Zakaria

Class Year: 1986

Known For: CNN News Anchor

Kollár Zsanett, CC BY-SA 4.0


Many Yale University alumni have gone on to pursue illustrious careers in journalism, and Fareed Zakaria is no exception. He got his undergraduate degree from Yale in 1986, where he was the president of the Yale Political Union, editor in chief of the Yale Political Monthly, and a member of the Scroll and Key Society. Since graduation, he has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and The New Republic. Now, he is the host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS and writes for The Washington Post. 


5. George H.W. Bush

Class Year: 1948

Known For: 41st President of the United States

Unknown, public domain.


George H.W. Bush is a renowned political figure, serving as a Congressman, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Director of Central Intelligence and the 41st president of the United States. Bush attended Yale University after serving in the Navy during World War II. He graduated from Yale in only two and a half years, as opposed to the usual four. During this time, he served as president of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, captain of the Yale baseball team, and member of the Yale cheerleading squad. In 1948, he graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Economics, with a minor in Sociology. 

6. Angela Bassett

Class Year: 1980

Known For: Academy Award and Emmy Award nominated actress

Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0


Angela Bassett is an actress, director, and producer best known for her roles in biographical films like What’s Love Got to Do With It, Malcolm X, and The Rosa Parks Story. She also played Queen Ramonda in Black Panther, and has starred on Broadway and in TV shows, such as American Horror Story. Bassett attended Yale for both her BA in African-American Studies and her MFA in Drama. In 2018, she received an honorary doctorate from Yale.


7. Samuel Morse

Class Year: 1810

Known For: Inventor of the single-wire telegraph and co-inventor of Morse Code

Matthew Brady, public domain.


Samuel Morse attended Yale College, the original school in the university. While you may know of his work with the telegraph and Morse Code, you may not know that he was actually an avid painter. After his time at Yale, he actually attended the Royal Academy of Arts in London. His work was known for having strong religious and political influences. He later put his art aside to invent the single-wire telegraph. Other telegraphs had been invented previously, but Morse’s single-wire method was cheaper, and overtook the older methods. While Morse receives most of the credit for commercializing and improving the telegraph, he couldn’t have done so without Alfred Vail, who co-developed Morse Code (some historians even posit that Vail was actually the original inventor).


8. Sarah Hughes

Class Year: 2009

Known For: Olympic Figure Skater


Before attending Yale, Sarah Hughes was an Olympic figure skater and gold medalist in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. At the time, she was only 16 years old, making her one of the youngest figure skating Olympic champions. Hughes graduated from Yale in 2009 with a BA in American Studies. She went on to get a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2018, and is now a practicing lawyer.


9. Lawrie Mifflin

Class Year: 1973

Known For: Senior Editor at The New York Times 


Lawrie Mifflin has broken barriers since her time in undergrad at Yale University. She set up the first women’s field hockey team and spearheaded women’s sports writing at the university. She graduated from Yale in 1973 and went on to become a well-respected editor for important publications. She is most famous for working 30 years at The New York Times as a reporter, senior editor, and executive.


10. Paul Krugman

Class Year: 1974

Known For: Economist, Nobel Prize Winner 

Alan Chan, CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0


Paul Krugman’s accomplishments speak for themselves. In addition to being a Professor of Economics and a columnist for the New York Times, he has won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his contributions to New Trade Theory and New Economic Geography. To nobody’s surprise, he studied Economics during his time at Yale and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1974. Since then, he has served on the Council of Economic Advisors during the Reagan administration and has written 27 books! 


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Sadhvi Mathur
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Sadhvi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in Economics and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!