Katherine (Kate) Borst, Mellon College of Science
Kate is a strong advocate for women in science and math, she empowers others to reach their fullest potential, and she is passionate about Carnegie Mellon and the Mellon College of Science.
Kate is involved in many activities on campus and off campus that support and encourage other women, as well as in activities that show her love of math. Recently she planned an event with her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, called the Healthy Relationships Week Showcase. It was an opportunity for students from across the CMU community to share their artistic talents and continue a dialogue about healthy relationships. Through ticket sales and donations, they raised over $400 for the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.
Kate serves as Alpha Chi Omega’s Vice President of Intellectual Development, running professional development workshops and events, such as Women in Academia and Apple Pie with Alpha Chi, which allows sisters to network with supportive and inspiring faculty and staff in the CMU community. Kate met weekly, one-on-one with sisters who were struggling academically and with their mental health. She learned how to respond to very serious situations and supported her sisters while they sought the help.
Kate volunteers weekly with CMU TechNights, a program for middle school girls in the Pittsburgh area to learn about computer science and STEM. Kate is enthusiastic about engaging girls in a subject that she loves. This semester, Kate worked part time as an in-class tutor at Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy. She is working in an 11th-grade Elementary Functions class and has worked one-on-one with students who have low self-esteem when it comes to math. Kate says, “it is very hard to learn something when you've dismissed yourself as not good at it.”
In the Math department, Kate has generously offered her time to speak at orientations or as a Booth committee administrative coordinator. Kate was a Teaching Assistant in the fall semester. The instructor, Dr. Dana Mihai, says that she went above and beyond to make sure she did a great job and she supported her students. Kate participated in the Summer Undergraduate Applied Mathematics Institute (SUAMI) program. In addition to contributing to a research project as part of a team, Kate helped the students who came from out of state for this program make a smooth transition, offering to be the local guide and helping them integrate easily in the program. Kate is also the President of the Math Club, and in this capacity, she organizes the lectures and is always involved in making sure that there is good attendance to these meetings.
Kate is planning a career in education policy and is planning to pursue more experience in K-12 classrooms soon and to work in federal government to shape educational policies in the longer term.
Alexandra (Alex) Cerny, College of Engineering
Alexandra will receive a BS in Chemical Engineering with an additional major in Biomedical Engineering in May, 2017. Her distinguished accomplishments include academics, leadership and honors.
In addition to her excellent academic performance in her coursework, Alex is conducting Senior Honors Research in Professor Kris Dahl’s lab, studying the mechanical effects of structural proteins and nuclear responses to force in cells. This work received 2nd place at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ National Conference Student Poster Session. She has also received recognition in the Chemical Engineering Department in research, being named a John Berg Scholar for 2015.
Alex’s contributions as a leader include President of the Society of Women Engineers’ CMU Chapter from 2015-16 as well as the Student Director of the Technical Opportunities Conference (TOC) from April 2016-present. As SWE President, she coordinated opportunities for women in engineering, for social and professional development through the many SWE activities offered each week during the school year. The TOC brings 300+ companies to campus to recruit our graduates in many CMU colleges. SWE won “Gold Level” recognition at the SWE National level for this work which greatly enhances our community. Alex is also serving as Chemical Engineering Senior Class Representative this year and was ChemE Car Team Captain from 2014-2015.
Her commitment to serving others is exemplified in her role as an Academic Coach for CMU Academic Development (since 2014) and her co- development of a Pre-College Chemical Engineering Course at CMU for high school students in 2016. SWE also supports outreach to middle school and high school girls to interest them in STEM careers. Her honors and awards include Ford Blue Oval Scholar, Horatio Alger Honeywell Scholar, Lambda Sigma Honor Society and Dean’s List for the College of Engineering.
Rachel Holladay, School of Computer Science
Rachel’s advisor has said that she is, “easily the best undergraduate student I have ever worked with. I would rate her on par with my senior PhD students at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the top schools for Computer Science and Robotics in the world. I would take her on as my PhD student in a heartbeat and will recruit her as hard as I can. Rachel is an academic superstar.”
Rachel has already published an astonishing 7 papers at top-tier robotics conferences and journals. She has won every award she has applied for: NASA, ACM, NCWIT, SURF, CREU, was a finalist for the CRAs Outstanding Undergraduate Female Researcher award, and is currently in the final round for the prestigious Hertz Fellowship.
Rachel manages the hiring and mentoring of our undergraduate, outreach programs, demos, and runs her own research meetings. After her talk at a recent robotics conference (RSS 2016), a faculty member from a top-tier school mistook Rachel for a graduating PhD student and asked her when she would be on the faculty job market, and urged her to apply to their school.
Rachel has completed research. As a Freshman, Rachel worked closely with a former PhD student on extending work on legible robot motion planning to applications like pointing and deception. This immediately led to a few good papers where Rachel did a fantastic job of implementing algorithms, running user studies, and writing.
After this success, Rachel wanted to take on a research topic on her own, and claim full ownership of it. The School of Drama was putting together a play that had a human and a robot character. It was suggested that Rachel take on this challenge and within the next 3 months, Rachel had not only mastered our complex motion planning code base, but also understood the underlying algorithms deeply enough to create what she called RoGuE, the Robot Gesture Engine, for autonomously synthesizing a wide range of gestures generalized across robots and complex environments, which led to another excellent paper which she pretty much wrote all by herself.
Rachel has been involved in both community service and community engagement and has made a tremendous impact on our School of Computer Science community.
In her first year in the CS major, Rachel became involved with Women@SCS and soon joined others as a founding member of SCS4ALL. She has served as a leading committee member throughout her years helping to develop and implement programs for our community; programs that help ensure students (especially women) do not miss out on opportunities for leadership, for professional development, for networking, mentoring, and for encouragement. Rachel not only contributes to ideas for events and activities, she plays a major role in the actual organization and implementation needed to bring ideas to life.
Rachel is the “senior” lead in the SCS4ALL academic/professional activities program. With Women@SCS she’s been a great mentor to “younger” female students and initiated many networking activities for her fellow students, activities which have enabled women to be an integral part of CS student culture.
Whether it’s SCS4ALL or Women@SCS Rachel has taken a strong lead in promoting SCS4ALL events to CS students so that events and activities are well attended and students reap the benefits.
Rachel’s outreach efforts include:
- SCS4ALL Preregistration Event
- SCS4ALL Minors Event
- SCS4ALL AMA (Ask Me Anything)
- Sophomore Dinner
- SCS4ALL 2015 and 2016 Halloween Costume Contest and Social
- Women@SCS Outreach Roadshow
- Parents’ Roadshow at TechNights
Rachel shows initiative, creativity, perseverance and desire to work for the benefit of the greater community. She is the kind of student who makes the most of her college years, working hard academically but also contributing to her community and to broadening participation in computing.
Jacqueline Lee, H. John Heinz III College
Jacqueline is in the Master of Health Care Policy and Management (HCPM) program at the Heinz College. Jacqueline sets a high standard for time management, balancing work as demonstrated by her various volunteer and extracurricular activities. She was a TA for two of her core courses, Project Management and Health Care Management. A volunteer for a Hospital Elder Life Program at UPMC Shadyside. She also is Co-Founder and Co-President of the CMU Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program. This volunteer group promotes kidney disease awareness and provides free screenings to underserved communities in Pittsburgh in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh chapter.
Jacqueline was one of the few first-year students who participated in our semester long apprenticeship program with the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG). Her research focused on helping to build sustainable business models and assisting entrepreneurs by working as an apprentice on projects and weekly deliverables. She was always well-prepared and has an excellent vision of where she would like to go, academically and professionally, over the next few years.
Jacqueline worked with Heinz Professor Laura Synnott and a group of students on a capstone project with Kids Plus Pediatrics of Pittsburgh, PA. They worked on a project to improve patient engagement through enhanced process and technology using their voice over internet protocol system. The capstone project provided an experience that integrates and synthesizes "core" coursework and provides a “real world” organizational experience.
Additionally, Jacqueline embraces our culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. She has worked with Forest Devices, a stroke detection medical device company founded by a Heinz College student. Jacqueline applied her academic skills to develop a reimbursement and pricing analysis to plot the company’s go-to-market strategy. Using skills taught by Heinz College, she mined existing government payment databases to determine which segments of the patient clinical pathway would benefit the most clinically and financially.
Jacqueline feels strongly about the need for quality care to all patients, patient safety and affordability and the workings of a not-for-profit health care system. Her work experience, academic knowledge, leadership ability and commitment to the field of healthcare make her an ideal candidate for the CMWA awards scholarship.
Alexandra Pasch, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Alex represents the best of Carnegie Mellon and demonstrates a commitment to the advancement of women in their academic pursuits. She will complete her Bachelor of Science in May 2017, and her Master of Science in International Relations and Politics in May 2018.
Alex is an Andrew Carnegie Society Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Alex is a senior completing a primary major in International Relations and Politics and an additional major in Ethics, History, and Public Policy. She is a talented member of the inaugural class of the Accelerated Master of Science program in International Relations and Politics, completing graduate coursework concurrent with her undergraduate senior year work.
Alex is an accomplished student with an outstanding 3.94 QPA. Alex’s maturity and adaptability in unfamiliar settings is remarkable. She participated in the Carnegie Mellon University Washington Semester Program (CMU/WSP) in the spring of her sophomore year, but quickly became a leader among her peers. She was an excellent collaborator and team member at her internship with the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
When the opportunity arose for Alex to accept a graduate level internship in Brussels, Belgium, with the U.S. Mission to the European Union, she reflected seriously on the offer and accepted the position even though it meant taking a leave of absence during the fall of her junior year. The experiential learning opportunity to work directly with the U.S. Ambassador’s Special Assistant and the Legal Counselor allowed Alex to put her classroom learning into practice. She pursued issues of US-EU policy, international/regional security, and the pressing migration crisis. Alex served as an excellent ambassador for Carnegie Mellon throughout this internship (and her other U.S. based internships) and her supervisors have expressed interest in hiring additional Carnegie Mellon students in the future based on their excellent impressions of Alex and her strong work-ethic.
During the summer of 2016, Alex interned at the Center for American Women and Politics researching women at the municipal level of government in her home state of New Jersey. Her commitment to the advancement of women in politics is a core pillar of her studies and professional pursuits. She’s written papers on the Defense of Marriage Act and the Respect for Marriage Act for her Carnegie Mellon courses. During the summer of 2014, while interning for U.S. Senator Cory Booker, she coordinated logistics of an event for the Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act (S. 865).
During the spring 2017 semester, Alex is pursuing an independent study with Prof. Geoff McGovern on National Security Law, as well as serving as a research assistant for Prof. Ignacio Arana on his work on Latin American voters and electoral participation and a teaching assistant for Professor Mary Jo Miller in her constitutional law course on the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights.Alex served as President of the Carnegie Mellon Pre-Law Society and is currently Vice President of Membership in her sorority. She’s also served as the Vice President of Carnegie Mellon’s Amnesty International chapter and is currently a member of the Dietrich College Student Ambassador /Mentorship Program. She volunteers for Service for Sight to support schools for the blind and visually impaired and has worked with Global Medical Brigades.
Amelia Rosen, College of Fine Arts
Amelia (Amy) Rosen is a talented, conscientious, humble student in the 5th year of CFA's BArch program and an Andrew Carnegie Scholar. Despite the tremendous amount of time Amy devotes to AIAS, she consistently balances her extra-curricular commitments with her academic workload.
Amy is approachable and helpful for all AIAS board members and chapter presidents. Her dedication to the organization was such that she served as president for a year and a half, including one semester without a Vice President, throughout the chapter transition from an annual system to a school year system to be aligned with the majority of AIAS Chapters.
Under her leadership, CMU's chapter has become a force in the school and in the region. She participated in SoA Student Advisory Council meetings once a month to advocate for AIAS and promote events/ workshops/ studio culture and simultaneously worked as Student Communications Liaison for the School of Architecture to maximize communication between all students and faculty and to promote AIAS events.
The following list documents just a few notable accomplishments of our chapter during her tenure:
- Started the professional development and fundraising tracks within CMU's AIAS Chapter and created the Crowd Funding campaign to raise money for AIAS members to attend Grassroots Conference in Washington, DC in July 2015.
- Grew membership from 60 members to over 100 in the last year.
- Pursued and received official recognition as a CMU student organization to make CMU's AIAS Chapter more interdisciplinary and to enable university funding for events, workshops, etc.
- Developed a strong leadership board whose members span the 1st through 5th years including Tommy Sterling, Matt Porter, Erica Frank, Zain Islam-Hashmi, and Rachel Sung that works efficiently and actively with each other to develop a chapter that assists with the transition from architectural education to the profession.
- Empowered active chapter members to assist with fundraising and planning of events in the form of committees i.e. fundraising committee, quad squad, etc.
She was an indomitable force in the process of getting Carnegie Mellon selected to host the largest quad conference in AIAS history – Forge Quad – featuring keynote speakers James Ramsey, John Fetterman, and Eve Picker – over a three day period from 31 March – 2 April 2016 in Pittsburgh.
She was recently selected as NE Quad Director. She believes that students should embrace their role as advocates and has developed the communication and listening skills to be able to successfully motivate and empower students. She plans to put a large emphasis on promoting the core principles of health, safety, and well being for all people and will dedicate much of her effort to advocating for equality within the profession, as well as healthy and stimulating studio culture within all schools of architecture.
Amy has served on a NAAB visiting team and as quad director, she will be able to share her experiences to the benefit of future visiting team members. Amy has the team experience of planning and executing a successful quad conference in Pittsburgh and will be able to share her knowledge in the planning and execution of future NE Quad conferences.
Vaasavi Unnava, Tepper School of Business
Vaasavi will graduate in May with a B.S. in Economics and is a member of the Quantitative Social Science Scholars Program.
Vaasavi has significantly contributed to both her academic program and to the campus on a university-wide scale by fostering the advancement of the entire community, in turn providing women with spaces and opportunities to excel in their academic pursuits. Vaasavi’s campus-wide activities have focused on gender equality; domestic violence and sexual assault; and increasing student awareness and access to mental health resources; residential life. Vassavi has advanced the visibility of women on campus and raised consciousness about their contributions and successes.
As Student Body President, Vaasavi formed the first undergraduate women’s caucus in student government which led to the eventual election of an executive board that had most women for the first time in Student Senate’s history. In addition to her formalized work for women’s rights, she has made it a personal goal to provide support and mentorship to younger women on campus. In Vaasavi’s own words, “I’ve found it important to embrace my role as a feminist on campus, get trained in survivor support and safe zone, and educate my residents continuously on the pervasive existence of gender roles in our society.”
Vaasavi’s work on behalf of women is not a “special issues” investment; it is integral to her work on behalf of the whole university community, indeed on behalf of higher education at a national level. Vaasavi represented the National Campus Leadership Council and the student voice at the 2017 Council for Higher Education Accreditation annual conference. She participated in a panel moderated by Jamienne Studley, former Deputy Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, on issues that impact the student experience.
In her role as president of the student senate, Vaasavi oversees a 12-member cabinet, meets weekly with CMU senior administration to consult with proposed policy changes and provide student feedback, represents the CMU student body at Board of Trustee meetings, works with student organization leaders across campus, and advocates for the rights of the entire student body. Vaasavi is responsible for creating student events responding to post-election student concerns and has instigated student/administration information sessions about the new executive orders, the status of legal challenges to those orders, possible immigration developments, and potential impacts. The university’s Open Forum on Immigration was a direct result of her work with the President’s Office.
Before her tenure as a student body president, Vaasavi’s contributions to women’s advancement and well-being on campus received national attention. During Vaasavi’s sophomore year, she was invited to speak at an ‘It’s On Us’ campaign roundtable table discussion at the White House. This invitation came about because of her sophomore year activities as Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Prevention (SARVP) committee at CMU, which included improving graduate student orientation, putting together a TartanHacks branch SARV hackathon, and spearheading a campus-wide student education program about healthy relationships through brochures, posters and bathroom stickers.
As a sophomore, Vaasavi reinstated CMU’s participation in the Pittsburgh Student Government Council (PSGC), comprised of elected student representatives from the member universities that make up the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE).
Vaasvi served as a member-at-large in the Student Senate and held the position of Sergeant at Arms. She created mentoring opportunities between seniors and younger students. Vaasavi realized that students would benefit from listening to seniors tell their own stories. “She wanted to hear seniors’ first lectures of the rest of their lives, and went to Student Senate with her idea. Senate immediately agreed to support the project and a call was put out for nomination. Three years later, the First Lecture continues, and at the end of this month, on March 22, Vaasvi will deliver her First Lecture.
Vaasavi has put her education in Economics to use in her work in student government and in her work in Residential Life. She served as chair of the Student Senate Business Affairs committee, creating transparency and consistency in the creation of club budgets. She leads efforts to get more dumb bells in Skibo gym. She created and taught a STUCO course on financial literacy that is still a popular course with students seeking to learn methods for gaining financial independence. As an RA in her sophomore year and a CA in her junior, she made exceptional and lasting changes to residential life, using her economics background in market design to develop a new system for the resident assistant selection program which improved efficiency by 75%.
Vaasavi is an exemplary citizen and student leader in the Undergraduate Economics Program. Her program level activities include leading two Principles of Economics recitation sections, attending and promoting department activities, and when needed, serving as an ambassador for the program. Vaasavi has always found a way to balance her academic and personal goals with the desire to give back to her community and fellow students. She is always willing to meet classmates for course assistance, support, and even just a casual chat about life outside of the classroom.
Vaasavi exemplifies what it means to be committed to the advancement of women at CMU.