A Tradition of Giving

A Tradition of Giving

The Cunningham Family

For the Cunninghams, Carnegie Mellon University pride is a way of life. And supporting the university is a family tradition that started more than 25 years ago.

In 2011, Scott (HNZ'82) and Sally Cunningham were inducted as lifetime members into the Order of the May in recognition of their 25 years of consecutive contribution. And last spring, the entire family was on hand to participate in the annual event.

It began when Scott Cunningham, an aspiring Air Force officer, earned his master's degree in public policy and management from the Heinz College. Grateful for his education, he decided to give back with his support.

"This was a premier program in public management and policy analysis," he explained. "There was a skill set that the Air Force hoped to develop in the officer corps. I walked in as young lieutenant and already had it because I had been at Carnegie Mellon."

Cunningham met his wife, Sally, while both were with the Air Force in Boston. When Sally was offered an Air Force liaison position with CMU's Software Engineering Institute (SEI), she jumped at the opportunity and the young couple moved back to Pittsburgh.

Within a few years, Sally was employed by CMU, creating a licensing program for the SEI. Sixteen years later, she's still there.

Scott earned a law degree, and was soon recruited by two Heinz classmates for an exciting job opportunity. He is now a regional managing director for PNC Wealth Management.

"I owe my job to my CMU classmates," said Cunningham. "And professionally, my Carnegie Mellon education made the difference. It really separated me from my peer group and gave me a chance to achieve."

The CMU spirit trickled down to the Cunninghams' two children, Shelby and Steven, whose "feelings of Carnegie Mellon were always one of pride."

When it was time for Shelby to go to college, there was no decision.

"She applied to different places, but when she got the fat letter from Carnegie Mellon, nothing else mattered," said Cunningham.

Shelby is now a junior earning her B.S. in psychology. Steven, who soon followed, is a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering and robotics.

At her parents' 2011 Order of the May induction ceremony, Shelby was inspired. She grabbed her mobile phone and pulled up the Carnegie Mellon website.

"On the spot, while still at the reception, she opened the new app and gave $25," said her proud father. "Then she told her brother, 'You should do this too.'"

People like the Cunninghams help sustain our vibrant and thriving community.

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Related Links: Student Support | Software Engineering Institute | Undergraduate Admission | Heinz College | Dietrich College | College of Engineering | Robotics Institute | Become a Loyal Scot