Courtesy of Aris Katafygiotis

At 6 a.m, Aris Katafygiotis heads to the Ashley River in Charleston, South Carolina to row with his teammate Hank Michalik ’24. He then returns home to begin his remote internship in sales engineering for an artificial intelligence company. After a day of work, he always makes sure he writes, whether it be a script or another form of creative writing. Katafygiotis might be the epitome of a modern Renaissance man.

Entering Yale College as a first-year, Katafygiotis described his experience as walking into a “candy shop” because of the options before him. He wanted to try it all — robotics, film, rowing, debate. He tried to spread himself thin by joining each of activities but that “ruined everything” for him because he could not pledge himself to one central activity. Katafygiotis ended up busy in his first year, dedicating eight hours to rowing training and sleeping an average of 3.5 hours per day.

Katafygiotis always believed that he would major in physics until he realized that it was his parents who were motivating that decision. 

“I decided to take a step back and reevaluate what it is I thoroughly enjoy without any kind of external influence,” Katafygiotis said. “During this gap year, I’ve been considering more of what I want rather than what other people might want for me.”

This fall, he listened to his interests and took risks. He decided to take an internship for a Florida-based startup — Accent Technologies — that specializes in using artificial intelligence for revenue enablement and maximization. His experience at the company has made him consider declaring a dual major in computer science and electrical engineering. 

He also wants to give one of his passions a try: film. At his Airbnb in Charleston, Katafygiotis is writing and directing a short film lasting 15 to 20 minutes that stars his five roommates. Next semester, Katafygiotis will move to Los Angeles to give acting a shot. 

Wynton Brown ’23 and Halli Watson ’24 thought the project was a joke until Katafygiotis started writing a 50-page script. 

Brown said that “the idea is to have some fun together and to have something that we can remember this fall because we’ve all become pretty good friends.”

Katafygiotis and his roommates all shared that living together has been a memorable experience. Watson told the News that she values Katafygiotis’ insights when reflecting on her future.

“Since both of us are taking a [leave of absence], it’s been nice to have someone who understands and is navigating a world without the stress of school for the first time too,” Watson said. “Every day you learn something new about your roommates or discover another side of someone and I think that is a unique experience you only get after you’ve lived with someone for some time.”

Katafygiotis is approaching his sophomore year at Yale with new learnings from his first year and gap year. He has finally learned how to better manage his time and now understands which study techniques work best for him.

Most importantly, he said, so far this year has taught him that his greatest passions lie both in film and computer science.

“I came down here, as I’m taking this gap year, for self-reflection and to realize that there is no rush in life,” Katafygiotis said. “I don’t want to go down the wrong path and chase after something that isn’t genuine.”

Razel Suansing | razel.suansing@yale.edu