As one of the newer members of the Yale SOM admissions team, I thought that the best place to start my introduction would be with my name—Margie, short for Margaret. I’ve often been told when meeting someone for the first time that I’m not what they were expecting based on the name. According to Wikipedia, the name Margaret, once very common, has become less popular over time. On the other hand, according to urbandictionary.com, among the many definitions for the name Margie are “the most beautiful thing” or “a person with ‘resting angry face.’” Of course, while I prefer the former and, often, the latter might be more accurate, neither really describes me.
Prior to joining the admissions team, I was a lawyer. One thing common to both professions is the need to reserve judgment until you’ve gotten as much information as possible. Our job in admissions, is to evaluate each application we read, beyond those initial data points—name, workplace, or nationality. From essays and recommendations, to transcripts and resumes, each element of the application helps us get a sense of who the applicant is. We use all of the information in the application to form our evaluations of each applicant and whether they are a “good fit.” Every candidate has strengths and weaknesses, which do not necessarily correspond to where they went to school, what’s on their transcript, where they come from, or what their name is.
I’m a career changer, someone new to this workplace and someone with a not-so-common name. As a member of the admissions committee, I have gotten to know many prospective students—some career changers, some new to this country, and some with even less common names. Through their applications and in person, I’ve seen them through the cycle from prospective student to applicant to admitted student. It’s been a pleasure to see the group evolve, from our initial expectations of who each applicant is, based solely on the first thing we know about them—their names—to the interesting and diverse class that they will become.