Carnegie Mellon University

“When I was getting my master’s degree, I saw that there was something special about Carnegie Mellon. There is this culture of innovation and creativity and this passion for research and technology across all of the departments and throughout the whole university,” says Omar De Leon (MS ’11).

Omar noticed those elements everywhere on campus—from the CEE faculty to the curriculum to how researchers approached the intersection of research, industry, and government, searching not only for big ideas but also for practical and creative ways to apply those ideas in real life.

After graduating, Omar took that same mindset into his career, joining ExxonMobil in 2012 as an Environmental & Regulatory Advisor. Now a Staffing & Development Systems & Processes Manager, part of what has fueled Omar’s success at ExxonMobil has been an ability to innovate in the company and the industry. By finding strategic opportunities to do things differently and building connections between people and ideas, Omar excels at developing practical solutions and overseeing sound implementations, no matter what his role or task.

“Being able to challenge the norm and having the mindset to look at a process and see how to optimize and improve it, how to update established ideas, and how to be more creative in how we tackle problems—those skills grew out of the CMU culture,” he explains.

For Omar, giving back to Carnegie Mellon after gaining so much feels only natural. Together with his wife, Omar has made numerous donations to student organizations and department initiatives over the years. “I give back because I value my experience and everything that CEE has done for me,” he says. “CMU also makes it simple to give directly to the organizations and causes that matter to you.”

Additionally, the De Leon family gifts are generously matched by ExxonMobil. “Knowing that we can give any little bit and the match program will multiply the impact to the university is also a key reason why I like to give,” says Omar. “It would be almost a shame for that opportunity to go to waste.”

Most recently, the family was inspired to give to CEE’s Environmental Engineering lab renovations, supporting the department’s goal of providing upgraded facilities and technology for the innovative work done by CEE faculty and students.

“Right now, you can see that it’s a key moment in the department,” says Omar. “For my family to be part of that is an awesome opportunity. It’s something meaningful where maybe one day we can take our daughter here and say, ‘Look, we helped support this effort.’ I want her to go back to CMU and see it and understand why we give.”