Alumna Spotlight: Alyse Olcott

Class of 2020 Graduate Double Majors at Yale University

Muntara Singh, Chief Editor, Writer

Alyse as a sophomore

In Latin, per ardua ad astra. In English, work hard to reach the stars. Morgan Class of 2020 alumna Annalyse Olcott dedicated her efforts to making Morgan a better place, serving as a leader for her class and cherishing the relationships she formed with her teachers. In the spring of her senior year, Alyse was thrilled to earn acceptance into Yale University to study astrophysics, becoming the first Morgan student to be admitted to an Ivy League university in fifteen years. Thus, a hard-working Husky reached the stars. 

Alyse devoted herself to answering peers’ needs, serving as Class President through all four years of high school. She was honored to fulfill this role, finding joy in the responsibility of addressing her classmates’ concerns. She has brought this experience to Yale’s College Council, where she can appreciate the inner workings of her institution from a unique perspective. Extracurricularly, Alyse was a member of Morgan’s Model United Nations Club, where she attended Yale Model UN. Now, a few years later, she has chaired the conference. An active member of Morgan’s athletic program, Alyse participated in soccer, basketball, and track. Inspired by the team communities she built in high school, she joined club basketball and rugby at Yale. 

Alyse with high school friends

Evidently, high school was an opportunity for Alyse to try her hand at new pastimes. This love for the unknown is what brought her to her current position as the co-president of Yale Daily News’ editorial board. She had not previously imagined herself as a journalist, she shared, but “it was an opportunity to shape discussion on campus.” On a whim, she joined the club rugby team without any previous experience playing the sport; four days later, she played her first game. Just a few weeks ago, she flew to France with her team. She has even helped run the Entrepreneurial Society and served as a tour guide. Given that Alyse is so invested in the Yale community, it may come as a surprise that the school was not quite on her radar until later in her college application process.


Alyse was accepted to Yale University’s Class of 2024

It was the spring of her junior year, and Alyse was overwhelmed. Her friends were all touring colleges and she had no idea where to even begin. So, her dad told her to open Yale University’s website on her computer. It was practically down the road, he said, so they scheduled a campus tour. Alyse was hesitant at first, having set her sights elsewhere. However, this first tour was enough to convince her that Yale was the school where she belonged. She was awestruck by her tour guide, as she described, “genuinely excited to be there.” She sat through a physics class, thinking to herself that it would be impossible to get in. Little did she know that her freshman year of college, Alyse would study under this same professor. 

When she was accepted to Yale during the regular decision round, Alyse was ecstatic. In meeting peers over the years since, she has encountered the same excitement that she found in her first experiences on campus. “Everyone loves what they do,” she said, “and they want to hear about what you’re doing too.” She loved the novelty of making new friends, trying new pastimes, and finding her place in it all. “It’s the most encouraging thing,” she gushed.


Alyse joined club rugby at Yale without any previous experience

Alyse’s academic goals have shifted since matriculation. She began with hopes of acquiring an astrophysics major, and at first she loved it. However, her love for all things space was redirected during the summer after her freshman year. She joined a research program through Yale studying satellite galaxies, and she was disappointed to find that the work was different from what she had expected. She was confused because she loved it, she said, “but not the way I’d always thought I would.”

In discussion with her professors and friends, Alyse was redirected to a major called Earth and Planetary Science, which was a broader subject that allowed for more exploration. She listed geology and chemistry in its more “astrological implications.” She is now working on a project in which she is creating climate modeling on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Her research environment is different, and it has been a big step for her to shift her thinking from “giving up” to “opening a new door.” It so happened that Alyse had not even known about this major when she first stepped foot on campus. 

She was keenly aware of the Humanities program at Yale, though. Alyse started off taking several such courses to supplement her scientific knowledge with a passion for writing. Soon enough, she realized that she could earn a double major in humanities, and now she splits her time between her two academic proclivities. 


Alyse graduated in the Class of 2020

Alyse credits the fulfillment of her enthusiasm for learning to several teachers at Morgan. Spanish teacher Laura Luther, in particular, inspired Alyse’s love for education. She applies much of her knowledge from former English teacher Paul Serenbetz’s Humanities class to her studies today. In addition, English teacher Julie Frydenborg is responsible for Alyse’s extensive knowledge on Greek mythology. Alyse enjoyed Live Broadcasting with technology education teacher Jessica Mularski; Rock Band with Chief, otherwise known as band teacher Raymond Smith, was “very cool.” She fondly recalled science teacher Abigail Walston’s generous allowance of time in discussing astronomy during her “not-so-related” physics class. “I wish I could individually thank each teacher,” she said. 

It’s not every day that a Morgan Husky becomes a Yale Bulldog, nor is it a daily occurrence for one to pursue the study of stars and planets. Nevertheless, Alyse remains down-to-earth in the literal and figurative sense. While divulging her tips on making the most out of high school, she recommended that Morgan students embrace new opportunities and stick with their passions. As Alyse put it, “Nothing is ever worth it if it’s just a resume builder.” Most importantly, “Do things that make you happy.” This Class of 2020 Morgan alumna reached for the stars, and she is sure to go far beyond.