Maria Konnikova on Confidence & Poker

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Las night, Maria Konnikova joined Davenport to discuss her two books– The Confidence Game and an in-progress book about poker. She was met by an enthusiastic audience.

Ms. Konnikova was inspired to write her book, The Confidence Game after watching a movie about a clinical psychologist who falls for a con. She told the audience, “There is a con for every single one of you, if the right conman finds you.” In preparation for her book, Ms. Konnikova met dozens and dozens of con artists. She soon realized they were incredibly charismatic, and she had to stop hanging out with them because they had begun to influence her behavior.

Ms. Konnikova also told the audience about her newfound love of poker, but that she had never played before starting her most recent book. She stated: “Poker is only a game of skill, it’s only a gamble as far as life is a gamble.”

It was a fascinating tea, and incredibly well-received by its attendees. Sophomore Justin James claimed, “Best talk I been to. She was engaging, the topic material was extremely interesting, and it didn’t feel like ‘just another educational talk,’ but a rare treat.”

Finance Chat with Carter Simonds!

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On Monday night, Davenport alumni Carter Simonds (‘99) shared an evening with Davenport students by delving into the topic of finance. Head John Witt ‘headed’ the discussion with questions concerning undergraduate life at Yale that led Simonds to her career path, mentors and the importance of personal relationships, useful skills and habits that Simonds developed throughout her professional and personal life, and what specifically makes finance fulfilling.

Simonds also shared her thoughts on the modern morality of finance, stating that no career is ever truly black and white. The evening rounded up with an audience discussion, including diversity in the field, the importance of avoiding too much perfectionism, and Simonds’ favorite finance movies!

A Literary Fellow: Thornton Wilder, Class of 1920!

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Monday: Alums / Posts!

“It is only in appearance that time is a river.

It is rather a vast landscape

and it is the eye of the beholder that moves

– Thornton Wilder

Happy Monday, Gnomies!

Congratulations on making it this far in the Spring semester!

We hope that after an invigorating Spring Fling weekend full of music, merriment, and good food, that you have the energy to finish off the semester strong. As you begin finalizing your papers and preparing for finals, we wanted to help put things into perspective for you with our weekly Davenport alum feature. This week’s feature is about a former Davenport fellow, Thornton Wilder, class of 1920!

After spending a part of his childhood Yantai, China, Wilder returned to finish his primary education in California. After enlisting in the Army for three months, Wilder attended Oberlin college and later attended Yale. At Yale, Wilder was a member of the literary society Alpha Delta Phi, and has written about his positive experiences in his Chemistry I and Geology I classes.

After graduating from Yale, Wilder went on to receive his MA in French literature from Princeton University. After studying archaeology and Italian in Rome and teaching French in New Jersey, Wilder published his first novel, The Cabala, in 1926, earning him a Pulitzer Prize. He later won Pulitzer Prizes for his play Our Town in 1938 and for his play The Skin of Our Teeth in 1943. Wilder also received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1957, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, and the National Book Award in 1968 for The Eighth Day.

Along with his prolific literary career, Wilder was also honored for his military service in World War II and taught at the University of Chicago and Harvard.

Thornton Wilder’s contributions to, and great influence on, literature were honored in 1997 with an exhibition at the Beinecke Library. All of Wilder’s works can be found in the Library of Congress.

You can read more at:

Class of 2018’s Last Mellon Forum

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Friday: What's Going On in Dport / Posts! / Uncategorized

This year, the Class of 2018 has shared their academic passions ranging from film to astrophysics to circus to politics at our weekly Mellon Forums on Tuesday nights. Last week, Tresa Joseph and Chi Tong closed out this year’s series of interesting talks.

Tresa Joseph, a Political Science major, presented her research on justice reinvestment as a way to solve the issue of prison overcrowding. She focused on Connecticut’s attempt to implement justice reinvestment, which involves cutting costs and then reinvesting these savings in strategies to decrease crime and reduce recidivism. According to her research, Connecticut’s law left a lot to be desired, especially due to the lack of focus on reinvestment.

Chi Tong, a Mathematics major, presented on a computer science problem of “summarizing” a graph. To explain this complicated concept to the non-math majors in the room, Chi transferred the concept to relationships at Yale, comparing the ease of reaching or emailing a fellow classmate versus President Salovey, and how one would find the most efficient way of communicating. She concluded by describing her research process of setting up different conjectures, experimenting, and analyzing.

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Davenport Seniors Discuss Their Academic Passions from the Environment to Film

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Friday: What's Going On in Dport / Posts! / Uncategorized

Mellon Forum: George Gemelas & Cyrus Duff

Davenport seniors George Gemelas and Cyrus Duff presented on their academic and extracurricular senior projects this week. George Gemelas, an Ethics, Politics, & Economics major, talked about the nationwide student movement he has been working on for the past year, Students for Carbon Dividends (S4CD). In discussing this year-long project. George highlighted the importance of human connection in making someone else passionate about one’s own passions. He described the work he has been doing to bring together student groups from both sides of the political aisle and the importance of  S4CD as a bipartisan climate change solution. For more information on S4CD, click here.


Cyrus Duff, a Music major, shared his thoughts on talking about film making, especially with regards to the acousmaticity of film. Cyrus has been working on an independent film project, Plain Fiction, as its director since the spring of 2016. For more information on this project, click here.



Final Performances!

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Thursday: Artistic Gnomies

Enjoy this early Artistic Gnomies post, so that you don’t miss any of your friends pre-reading week performances!

opera x metamorphoses

Featured Gnomies: Ayotunde Ifaturoti ‘18, Cara Washington ‘18

The Opera x Metamorphoses is a multi-genre devised theatre piece based on four tales from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. This project is primarily an exploration of relationships: between desire and circumstance, spiritual and physical, god and mortal, sister and brother, dream and reality.

See them perform: April 27 at 8:00pm in the Off Broadway Theater.


Featured Gnomie: Lilla Brody ’18, Cami Arboles ’20, Noah Gershenson ‘21

You Are Enough is a collection of three original one-act comedies that deal with the unwelcome yet all-too-familiar feeling of inadequacy. These short works aim to put self-doubt into perspective by showing the audience how ridiculous it can be when people blow their failings out of proportion.

See them perform: April 25, 26, and 27 at 8:00pm in the Davenport-Pierson Auditorium.

Taps Presents: The Great British Tap Off

Featured Gnomie: Katie Sabin ’18

Taps at Yale, Yale’s only all-tap dance group, invites you to their Spring 2018 showcase. Come see their company dance to classic British hits, as well as to jazz, R&B, EDM, disco, and pop songs. You won’t be able to keep your feet still!

See them perform: April 25 at 8:30pm, April 27 at 6:00pm, and April 27 at 9:00pm in the Morse/Stiles Crescent.

Dzana Presents: Afrogrooce IV

Featured Gnomie: Ella Dogouo ‘20

What’s better than the first, second, and third time?! The fourth time! Dzana is having in their FOURTH AFROGROOVE showcasing afrobreats and contemporary African dance!

See them perform: April 26 at 8:00pm in the Morse/Stiles Crescent.

A Conversation with John Caserta: Davenport College Class of ’01!

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Monday: Alums / Posts!

Our featured Davenport alum this week is John Caserta, Class of ’01!

After graduating from Yale in 2001, Mr. Caserta went on to serve as a risk analyst for Marsh & McLennan. In 2005, John established Caserta & de Jongh, LLC, a financial planning practice and now serves as Managing Director.

Besides staying connected to Yale by sharing his passion for financial literacy and education through his on-campus talks on intelligent financial decision-making, Mr. Caserta also advises for the North Haven Rotary Club and is a member of the Yale Club of New Haven. Mr. Caserta has published articles on finance research and has also given presentations to business owners. Additionally, he is fluent in Italian and has played the trumpet since the age of 10.

Mr. Caserta was generous enough to agree to speak with us over the phone earlier this month, and we are quite excited to share insights from one of our first ever conversations with a Gnomie alum!

DAVENPORT AIDES: Why do you continue to stay involved with campus activities?

JOHN CASERTA: If I think back on it, Yale has been a part of my life since oldest brother started attending. And my middle brother attended, then I attended. In particular I’ve found my niche in doing something I’m passionate about and sharing that with Yale community. For me, there are a lot of different talents and resources in the Yale community. If I think back, I’ve loved every minute. Part of it is nostalgic. Part of it is continuing the experience for current students, and enhancing it by bringing things I’ve learned along the way I wish I knew in college. For me, there’s the accessibility factor. That makes it easy for me to interact with the school and give back to it. It’s about perpetuating the Yale experience for future generations of alums. I have so many [Yale] connections, friends. In fact, my fiance is class of ‘04. She has a lot of connections to the university. If I take a look at the people we know, our lives are intertwined with the University. At the end of the day, I love being on campus. I love my time there. It’s out of the passion I have for Yale. It’s the main reason I interact and give back.

DAVENPORT AIDES: What is your favorite Davenport memory or aspect of the Davenport community?

JOHN CASERTA: Me, my brothers and some of our friends went out to Harvard for The Game, and we were watching the game. It happened to be the year that Yale won. Of course, everybody storms the field, and we’re celebrating. We see an individual with the Davenport flag. And so we’re like, “Yeah Davenport!.” The individual proceeds to throw the flag on the ground and start stomping on it. We didn’t take too kindly to that. Obviously, it was someone from Harvard. A scuffle ensued. Law enforcement was involved. No one got arrested. They wanted to take the flag away because it was attached to brass pole. They didn’t want people swinging a pole in a crowded area. After negotiation with Cambridge’s finest, we came to an agreement that we could take the flag and they could take the pole. We felt pretty good that we were able to take the Davenport flag. It was the start of Thanksgiving break, [so we] held onto the flag. I wasn’t back on campus until classes started again. At which point, Master Thomas had sent out an email saying “Has anyone seen DPort flag? What happened to it?” We were able to meet with Master Thomas [saying] we saved the day. Different classes of DPort alums had come together to save the day.


Grammy-Winning Band Returns to Davenport

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Friday: What's Going On in Dport / Posts! / Uncategorized

The Grammy-wining Lost Bayou Ramblers are the premier Cajun band in the country. Formed in Louisiana in 1999 by brothers Andre and Louis Michot, the band performs a dynamic range of traditional and contemporary styles from roots cajun music, swing, to what some reviewers have called punk and psychedelic Cajun. The Ramblers have toured across North America and Europe and have collaborated with Scarlett Johansson, Arcade Fire, Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes), Rickie Lee Jones, Dr. John, Spider Stacey (Pogues), among many others. In addition to their many accolades, they are also the featured band on the soundtrack to the Academy Award-nominated film, Beasts of the Southern Wild. NPR’s David Dye proclaimed the band #1 on his “five favorite live music moments in and out of the World Café studio.” This concert and the crawfish boil that follows the next day have become an annual Davenport tradition thanks for Dean B.

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On Friday the 13th, the Lost Bayou Ramblers performed a concert in the dining hall. Students, fellows, graduate affiliates, the office staff, and some former dining hall workers all came out to enjoy the music and dance together. Dean B also joined in on vocals and the triangle. I’ve never seen anyone rock out so hard on the triangle.


The next afternoon, the band cooked the crawfish flown in from Louisiana for the whole Davenport community. Dean B and the Lost Bayou Ramblers taught students about cooking crawfish. This event always brings together students, fellows, and staff to enjoy an afternoon of music and food and to celebrate the unique culture of Louisiana.