The Carnegie Mellon Women's Association (CMWA) honored seven outstanding women from each of the university's seven colleges at the CMWA Spring Awards Reception on April 23, 2019.
Congratulations to the 2019 award recipients!
Blaine Dinkin, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy
We are pleased to recommend Blaine Dinkin, a graduating student in our Master of Science in Health Care Policy & Management program, for the CMWA Scholarship Award. Blaine is a dedicated student who is actively involved in our Heinz College community and has demonstrated a clear commitment to the advancement of women in her field.
Blaine has challenged herself in the classroom and is an academic role model to other students, particularly when it comes to being an active participant and seeking out support resources. She is an enthusiastic participant in the classroom – speaking up to make meaningful comments and asking probing questions. Blaine is very aware of her academic strengths and weaknesses, and has sought out support in her challenging quantitative courses. She also encourages her colleagues, particularly the first year graduate students, to similarly seek out support and not shy away when confronting challenging subjects. She has performed extremely well academically, achieving a 3.52 cumulative QPA thus far and receiving glowing feedback from her instructors.
Blaine is an active participant in our Heinz College health care community. She is the Vice President of the Heinz Health Care Club, and in this role, she has successfully planned and executed a number of events including invited speaker sessions and student treks. Blaine also recognized that many of her colleagues seeking employment in the health care industry had concerns about balancing their careers and family life, so spearheaded a Women in Healthcare event planned for later this Spring.
Next year, Blaine will be working at Allegheny Health Network as an Administrative Fellow. Administrative Fellowships are highly competitive and sought-after positions in the health care administration field, and post-graduates completing these programs move quickly up the ranks within leading health care institutions. We are confident that Blaine will continue to be a stellar role model as she moves into industry leadership roles and are excited to see where her career takes her!
Maggie Mertz, Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences
I am thrilled to nominate Maggie Mertz to represent Dietrich College at the Carnegie Mellon Women’s Association (CMWA) Spring Awards Reception. Maggie is one of the most exceptional students I know and her name came to mind immediately when I got your call for nominees. She has demonstrated a commitment to the advancement of women in their academic pursuits throughout her career at CMU, both inside and outside the classroom, and I am confident she will continue to champion women in her post-CMU career. Maggie has devoted herself to advancing the cause of women in film, where female perspectives are historically marginalized. She intends to continue her education at Cambridge where she will study gender and film while pursuing a Masters of Philosophy in Film and Media Studies and the CMWA’s scholarship will aid her in that endeavor.
Maggie, who has a primary major in Global Studies, an additional major in Creative Writing, and minors in Animation and Special Effects and Film and Media Studies has supported the advancement of women through her scholarship. Maggie stands out because of her intense interest in approaching gender from a multi-cultural and creative perspective. Maggie is currently working to complete her Senior Honors Thesis, “Breathing Words,” which is a short narrative film that critically analyzes the concept of female friendship in a cross-cultural context. Her work is especially important because female friendships are rarely portrayed in film, and when they are, they are almost invariably women from similar socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Maggie has further explored this issue through her capstone Global Studies research seminar paper, which compared the representation of and reaction to female friendships in films produced in the United States and Romania. She has also studied these issues in her coursework at CMU and through studying abroad in Cuba and in Copenhagen. Maggie intends to have a career in the film industry and has built a solid foundation of theoretical and conceptual knowledge about gender in film and women in society.
Maggie has also applied her knowledge of the issues women face in film outside the classroom. She founded a female film group, Momoka Studios, which has produced three short films and two short documentaries. Momoka Studios is a space where women can express themselves artistically, and considering the paucity of female directors and producers, Maggie’s contribution to women at CMU is significant. Moreover, Maggie has led by example in challenging assumptions about women’s roles on campus.
As a member of CMU’S ballroom dance team, she became the first woman to dance in the lead role while wearing a tuxedo – a role and attire traditionally reserved exclusively for male dancers. Maggie overcame resistance from her own teammates who feared backlashes from judges for such an unorthodox move to make a bold statement about egalitarianism and gender equality.
As I mentioned above, Maggie intends to continue her studies at Cambridge, where she will further equip herself to advocate for women in film. Her career goals are to help women find their voices and find expression through film, which has traditionally been a male-dominated profession. Maggie would be a worthy recipient of the CMWA’s award, which would not only reflect her inspiring accomplishments here at CMU, but highlight her potential to bring change to a field that desperate needs it.
Tanvi Bajpai, School of Computer Science
We would like to nominate Tanvi Bajpai as our recipient of the Carnegie Mellon Women’s Association Award from the School of Computer Science. I received three letters supporting her nomination, and these letters attest to her impact in our community as a role model for all of our students.
Her academic advisor, Anil Ada, wrote that Tanvi “is the very rare talent who will positively influence the culture of the environment she is in.” He also describes her impact on our community of undergraduate teaching assistants:
“Tanvi has created and organized several workshops on being a teaching assistant, doing research, and the imposter syndrome. Her work as a teaching assistant (TA) is remarkable. When she first worked as a TA for the introductory discrete math course, she was the only female TA. Two semesters after, with her leadership, the course had 12 female TA’s. As a result of what she is doing, I am also seeing a great positive impact on the diversity of my course staff in 15-251 Great Ideas in Theoretical Computer Science. Thanks to her, many more females are applying to be TA’s.”
She acts like an informal academic advisor to many. Furthermore, she has given many students the confidence to get involved in research and teaching. Anil also says:
“Tanvi is a very talented teacher. She has an amazing power to tell stories and get people to listen to her. Usually students make use of office hours to ask questions about homework questions. As a TA, Tanvi was able to successfully create “conceptual” office hours in which students are not allowed to ask any homework questions. She has like 50 students come to these conceptual office hours which is quite extraordinary. In the course that I teach, our conceptual office hours are attended by only a handful of students.”
Our director of Women@SCS and SCS4ALL, Carol Frieze, sent me a very enthusiastic letter supporting Tanvi Bajpai for this award. Carol says, “she has designed and created programs aimed at improving inclusion and diversity, she has sustained these efforts, and, what is so important, she has trained younger students to keep up the good work after she graduates from Carnegie Mellon.” Carol also lists a number of programs and activities that Tanvi has led or organized:
“Tanvi is heavily involved in our Big/Little Sister’s program as a mentor to several little sisters. She has also taken the lead on the Graduate Undergraduate Sisters program which matches undergraduate students who are thinking about graduate school with graduate students.
“She partnered with a graduate student leader to organize research round tables where undergraduates can come along and explore the range of graduate programs in SCS. Undergraduate women can get detailed information about life in graduate school and see how it differs from life as an undergraduate.
“Tanvi, a lead Teaching Assistant in SCS, was concerned about the low number of Teaching Assistants (TA’s) who are women. She organized sessions in which panels of current female TAs discuss their experiences and the benefits of being a TA. This encouragement for undergraduate women, added to the efforts of our faculty, greatly increased the number of female TAs. Professor Garrod, who oversees the TA program said that, overall, Tanvi is our most proactive student at creating an inclusive environment for women within our TA program. She's personally responsible for changing the recruitment process for several of our CS courses, and she's organized numerous community-wide events to help bring more women into the TA program.
“She put together a panel of leading women in SCS who discussed how they overcome (on a daily basis), their imposter feelings and low confidence levels, so that they are not held back in assuming leadership opportunities.”
Carol concludes by saying that “She shows initiative, creativity, perseverance and desire to work for the benefit of the greater community. The fact that she has sustained her extra- curricular efforts as she prepares to head to graduate school is truly impressive.”
Besides her classes, her TA work and her participation in Women@SCS and SCS4ALL, Tanvi managed to find time to work on research with R. Ravi in the Tepper School. Ravi sent me a letter, saying “I am impressed by Tanvi’s resolve for doing research. She is thoughtful in our research meetings and prepares for them by taking and sharing extensive notes on the papers she reads. She serves as an excellent role model for a STEM woman, and I am very happy to have the chance to work with her.” He describes how she began working with him and the projects that followed:
“She was the only undergraduate student who audited my special topics doctoral course in Combinatorial Optimization in the Spring of 2016. After that, she approached me to work on research.
“I started her off on a problem of defining a new measure of diversity of recommendations, when items being recommended are grouped into overlapping categories (such as movie genres) and similarly, users being recommended items are grouped into overlapping types. Tanvi was quick to grasp the problem and extend the work of a doctoral student to this situation. Her contributions include coming up with new notions of system-wide diversity and adapting existing algorithms for maximizing diversity based on minimum-cost flow to cases of her problem that are polynomially solvable.
“Last year, Tanvi has started working with me on a new combinatorial problem of ranking respondents according to the quality of choices they make on several selection problems. Each selection has an ordered set of choices and better respondents choose better choices. This problem comes up as a primitive in a student-question ordering system that crowd-sources quiz questions. Tanvi has continued to be an active member of a research group including another faculty member and a master’s student and contributed over the year to developing the discrete aspects of the project.”
Finally, Tanvi manages to find time to participate on panels and lead SCS tours when we have visiting families for Turn Tartan Overnight and April Yield events. She regularly stops outside of my door with tour groups to talk about academic advising, and I am always happy to see her. She speaks extremely well about SCS and CMU and her experiences here, and I consistently hear from parents that they are so impressed with her abilities and achievements. I tell them that not only is she a hard worker, she looks out for others and tries to lift them up too. Her impact improving our community resulted in her receiving the 2018 Mark Stehlik SCS Alumni Undergraduate Impact Scholarship.
Although we have several women in our graduating class that have achieved a great deal and have made a lasting impact on SCS, we feel that Tanvi Bajpai is the best example of female leadership in our college, and we are happy to nominate her for 2019. As a final note, we know she has even greater successes ahead: she is currently choosing between Northeastern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her PhD studies.
Lauren Nazzaro, Mellon College of Science
The overarching theme of Lauren’s impact on women has been “lead by example”. Lauren’s poise, quiet condence, and cheerful persona are the perfect combination in this type of leader. She is friendly, approachable, and compassionate and has put those skills to use in various capacities during her time at CMU.
Lauren has served as a role model to her fellow students and has a passion for sharing that knowledge through teaching. To that end, she has served as a Teaching Assistant for the junior-level biology labs and a Teaching Assistant for the Summer Research Institute (as an alum of the program herself). Lauren specically chose to focus her efforts on teaching during the summer of 2018 (SRI) including turning down a SURF grant award.
Lauren’s passion for sharing her knowledge and love of science extends to young women outside of Carnegie Mellon. She spent 2.5 years as a mentor and site leader for elementary aged girls as part of the Strong Women Strong Girls organization here at CMU. Additionally, she spent the summer of 2017 mentoring middle-school aged girls through the JerseySTEM program.
Finally, Lauren gave back to the campus community by serving as an Orientation Counselor and Orientation Leader for three years. Here she stood out to incoming rst year students as an accomplished, female student succeeding in her chosen eld of Biology. I have no doubt that in this capacity, Lauren inspired many young women setting them on the right foot to begin their academic pursuits at CMU.
Mimi Niou, College of Engineering
I am delighted to nominate Ms. Yu-Ming Mimi Niou for the 2019 CMWA scholarship to represent the College of Engineering.
Mimi will receive a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a minor in Human Computer Interaction in May, 2019. Her distinguished accomplishments include academics, leadership and honors.
In addition to her superb academic performance in coursework, Mimi has had a diverse number of work experiences. She served as a research assistant in the CMU Human Computer Interaction Institute working with data measuring child learning at two different schools in Tanzania. She held positions as a Software Engineering Intern at Nowait, Inc and a Technology Analyst at Bank of America. She also served as a Teaching Assistant for CMU’s 15-122 Principles of Comparative Computation.
Mimi’s contributions as a leader include President of the Society of Women Engineers’ CMU Chapter from 2018-19 as well as the Student Director of the Technical Opportunities Conference (TOC) and an Events co-chair in 2017. As SWE President, she led the 16 person executive committee that coordinated opportunities for women in engineering, for social and professional development through the many SWE activities (more than 50+), offered during the school year. The TOC brings 300+ companies to campus to recruit our graduates from a number of Carnegie Mellon’s colleges. Mimi also initiated a new scholarship so that 5 SWE members could attend the Grace Hopper Conference. Mimi has demonstrated a sincere commitment to supporting the achievement of women in these roles. She also served as Marketing Director for the Student Chapter Asian Society of Scientists and Engineers.
Mimi has accepted a position as a software engineer at Stripe in Seattle after graduation.
Based on her many outstanding accomplishments, Mimi is a very deserving candidate of this esteemed scholarship. A sincere thank you to the CMWA on behalf of the College of Engineering for making it possible to recognize Mimi’s contributions to the Carnegie Mellon community.
Amelia Gilson, Tepper School of Business
It is a pleasure to nominate Amelia Gilson for the Carnegie Mellon Women’s Association Annual Scholarship. Amelia’s academic pursuits are reflective of her variety of interests and intellectual curiosities. She is completing a BS in Economics with Minors in Mathematics and Biomedical Engineering. Throughout her time at Carnegie Mellon, Amelia has explored ways to combine her skills with her passion for helping others and impacting the world around her. She describes her undergraduate experience as one where she “has resisted being defined by a single convention or traditional boundary.” Of primary note is the remarkable success Amelia has accomplished in her academic pursuits. She has always sought out challenging academic coursework, and he has earned one of the highest QPA’s in the rigorous economics program. This is particularly significant when you consider that Amelia has also taken advanced coursework in mathematics and biomedical engineering – two equally challenging fields of study. Amelia has also elected to complete an honors thesis during her senior year. Her work will focus on an econometric analysis of college acceptance rates, with a specific focus on how race, gender, and home state factor into the admissions process. This project is quite different than the typical economics honors theses which often focus on financial markets. Amelia’s topic indicates her curiosity about the world around her and desire to incorporate these studies into a broad-reaching academic course of study.
Amelia’s excellence expands far beyond the classroom. She is a remarkable example of good character and upstanding university citizenship. Amelia has dedicated time and service to the Carnegie Mellon community and to the world around her. At the departmental level, Amelia has been a tutor for Principles of Economics and an asset to our event planning team, student-led initiatives, and economics student advisory community. One of her most noteworthy undertakings is serving as a founding member of Equilibrium – The Society for Women in Economics.
Noticing that her female peers tended to be outnumbered in the classroom, graduate study, and industry, Amelia drove the initiative to create a student organization focused on bring women to the forefront of the conversation. Because of her passion, this student organization was able to hit the ground running and provide a space for women to talk about what it means to study and work in a male-dominated field. She has been a pivotal force in the advancement of her female peers in the field of economics. Amelia has participated in numerous panels, student-faculty events, and Dean’s lunches as a representative of the economics program. She is always quick to volunteer and assist with any request for her time or talents.
In service to the larger campus community, Amelia has held multiple leadership roles with the Alpha Phi sorority, worked as an orientation and recruitment counselor, participated in Scotch and Soda, and worked with SDC buggy and booth. She is passionate about service and has been an active member of Strong Women Strong Girls, IMPACT CMU, 1000 Plus, Day of Service, and Greek Sing. Her volunteer experience extends beyond the campus community where she works with the Jubilee Soup Kitchen and coaches in the Sugarloaf Youth Track League. Her vast array of community engagement shows Amelia’s well-rounded, can-do approach to life. She has viewed her time at Carnegie Mellon as a chance to explore academics without boundaries, and a place where she could find a way to use her remarkable skills to make a difference in the lives of those around her. Amelia is the type of student that is always a friendly face to others within the department and across the greater campus community. She exemplifies maturity, commitment to academic excellence, and dedication to leaving Carnegie Mellon a better place than we she started here four years ago. She is a leader amongst her peers, and uses her strengths, academic knowledge, compassion for others, and own experiences overcoming challenges to guide her classmates. Amelia has been a true asset to the department, and has made it a personal mission to help create programs and initiatives that satisfy the unmet needs of her peers. She is a true exemplar of the spirit of Carnegie Mellon.
Brielle Marie Stovall, College of Fine Arts
With any hesitation whatsoever, I offer my full-throated nomination of Brielle Marie Stovall as the College of Fine Arts’ recipient of the Carnegie Mellon Women's Association 2019 Scholarship Award.
Brielle currently serves on the University Student Affairs Committee. For two years, she was a member of the University Leadership Student Advisory Council. She reports that serving on these committees allowed her the opportunity to weigh in on important issues confronting the CMU student body and to learn more about the inner workings of the university. Brielle has been an executive board member of Sigma Alpha Iota, the international music fraternity for women, during her entire membership. This past spring, she represented CMU's chapter at the fraternity's National Convention.
As Music Chair in SAI she helped organize and produce Jazz Cafe; a Celebration of Women and Jazz which raised over $900 for Alumni Theater Company, a Pittsburgh theatre company comprised of young adults from underserved and at-risk communities.
She received a Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Award from CMU in 2018 for a narrative on her experience as a biracial woman.
A few short days after the Tree of Life shooting, she organized an open-mic fundraiser that raised over $2,500 for the synagogue.
In February, Brielle participated in the CMU Board of Trustees retreat where she offered some remarkable insights on the student experience and contributed greatly to the discussion of the future of higher education.