Carnegie Mellon University
August 10, 2022

Graduate Student Orientation Is Back In Person

By Bruce Gerson

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Communications, MCS
  • 412-268-9982

Carnegie Mellon University will welcome more than 3,000 incoming graduate students next week with a weeklong series of events that will help them get acquainted with their home departments and colleges, the campus community and Pittsburgh.

For the first time since 2019, Graduate Student Orientation will be fully in person. The large orientation tent for the President’s Welcome is back. Also returning are the popular BBQ and Ice Cream Social sponsored by the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA), the branch of student government that represents all graduate students. Additional highlights include student panel discussions on academics and social life, the CMU Resources Fair and sessions on equity, inclusion and belonging, as well as health and well-being. 

Holly Hippensteel, who is heading up the university-wide graduate student orientation team, said while much of the programming for incoming graduate students will be in their home departments, it’s also important for new students to learn about the university as a whole.

“We need to make sure incoming students know that outside their departments and colleges our university resources are also here to ensure they have a great experience as graduate students,” said Hippensteel, associate vice president for Community Standards and Diversity Initiatives.

“As graduate students get busy with their work, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the rest of the university is here. We try to use orientation as a way to introduce students to everything the university has to offer,” she said. “We’re partnering with many campus departments and offices from across campus to introduce them to important university services in a fun way.” 

Some of those partners include University Health Services, Community Health and Well-Being, Fitness and Recreation, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, University Police, Counseling and Psychological Services, Environmental Health and Safety, The Hub, and the Student Academic Success Center.

“We try to use orientation as a way to introduce students to everything the university has to offer.”  — Holly Hippensteel

In addition to Hippensteel, this year’s orientation team comprises Jamie Rossi, director of Student Academic Success Operations & Strategy, Administrative Assistant Desirée Chronick, post-doctoral fellow Josh Gyory and four student assistants: Ashlesha Tiple, a master’s degree student in chemical engineering; Vishal Khopkar and Palak Sarawagi, both master’s degree students in information systems management; and Patrick Zhang, a senior chemistry major.

Gyory, a former GSA president, vice president and department representative, earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at CMU in 2021. As part of his post-doctoral fellowship, he worked to update the on-demand orientation modules in the online platform Canvas, which were introduced in 2020 and expanded last year. Topics include diversity, equity and inclusion, sexual assault prevention, COVID safety and academic integrity, as well as important information from Counseling and Psychological Services, University Libraries, Community Health and Well-Being, and The Hub.

“Entering graduate school — and for some entering the country for the first time — can be stressful, so my vision with the Canvas site was to reimagine it so it was most reflective of support areas that incoming graduate students would want and need navigating their first year,” said Gyory, who recently started a new job as a consultant with Boston Consulting Group. “I wanted it to be easy to navigate so that it could serve as their reference guide throughout their first year and beyond.”

Hippensteel said she and her team are excited to welcome the new students.

“We’re pulling out all the stops. We’ll have welcome signage up, the CMU block letters will be out for photos and we’re partnering with the Welcome Center to have a mobile welcome center with a new self-guided walking tour map tailored to graduate students. The campus will be ready for them,” she said.

The university-wide Graduate Student Orientation kicks off at 1 p.m., Monday, August 15 with the President’s Welcome. See the full university-wide schedule.