Connor Diemand-Yauman — Pyne Prize winner, pouting/pushuping supermodel, Princeton senior — (pictured here with Princeton President Shirley Tilghman) spoke to IvyGate about his future teaching English in South Korea and those insane photos.
What does winning the Pyne Prize mean to you?
Winning the Pyne was an incredible, unexpected honor. At first I thought it meant that a lot of my professors and the others who recommended me for the award made a terrible mistake. Since the dust has settled though, I like to think that my winning the Pyne shows that people have recognized my commitment to Princeton and getting as much out of my college experience as possible.
What activities or qualities do you think you had that led to winning this prize?
I do my best to keep things in perspective. I’ve sincerely enjoyed the work that I’ve done while at Princeton, but I’ve tried to remember that while the activities/initiatives that I’m involved in may be extremely important to me, some, if not most other people couldn’t care less. I try to bring that levity and sense of perspective into everything that I do. I think that has helped.
Who suggested the “thug” pose with your University President? What was the motivation, and are you happy with the photo?
I suggested the photo. While I was in office, some students seemed to prefer that their student reps be angry and antagonistic with top administrators, despite the fact that our student government has absolutely no control over University policy without administrative support and collaboration. My administration used a more conciliatory, strategic approach and we accomplished a lot as a result.
The BAMF stance, as you guys called it, was supposed to poke fun at this expectation that we be angry and at odds with one another. I think the picture is hilarious.
What about the push-ups? Were you nervous Gen. Petraeus would do more push-ups than you? Who suggested it?
I suggested it. How many opportunities do you have to challenge one of the highest ranked generals in the US army to a pushup contest?
Unfortunately, we didn’t really get to have a contest after General Petraeus and I asked Congressman Jim Leach to join in. Because we didn’t want the 67 year old congressman to have a stroke, we settled for a couple push ups and a nice photo op. I think that was a wise decision.
I’m probably lucky we stopped there — Petraeus would’ve destroyed me. He’s a machine.
Why did you take goofy pictures at your ceremony? Were you worried it’d make you seem less serious?
I try to avoid being serious when I can. Plus, given the nature of the event, I didn’t feel like I had anything to prove. I was just happy to be there and I wanted to have a good time.
What are you up to in the future? Will your prize help?
Right now I’m trying to secure plans to briefly volunteer with the Global Literacy Project in St. Vincent and the Grenandines. After that, I’ll be heading to South Korea where I’ll be filming and writing English educational videos, hopefully on my own show if everything pans out as promised.