Carnegie Mellon University

Satvika Neti

April 06, 2017

Making an Impact on Issues That Matter

By Emily Stimmel

Carnegie Mellon University alumna Satvika Neti (DC’16) is charging full speed ahead, propelled by Andrew Carnegie’s famous dictum: “My heart is in the work.”

As a Coro fellow, Neti is learning the ropes of non-profit fundraising, event logistics and consulting at the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh and Homewood Children’s Village. And she is building her own non-profit organization, WE Education, with Zora Gilbert (DC’16). 

Through WE Education—which Neti founded when she was a senior at CMU—high school students from Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood are trained in modules where they learn basic software and coding skills, create a financial plan and gain an understanding of issues affecting their communities. With the guidance of a mentor, the fellows will apply these skills to a community development project of their choice – from executing an event to building an app.

“WE Education is dedicated to giving our fellows the agency and skills they need to become change makers in their own communities,” she said.

Neti shared advice with students interested in working for the greater good at the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Under Construction event. She stressed the importance of self-care—something she wished she’d taken more time for as a student—commenting, “Sometimes you have to say no to a good thing to say yes to a great thing.”

But she acknowledged that this can be easier said than done.

“Choosing just one way to put my heart into my work is challenging,” said Neti, who majored in international relations and politics. “But when opportunities come my way that aren’t community-focused, I’ve decided that I shouldn’t force myself to take them on. Saying no to the things I’m less passionate about has left me time and room in my life to focus on what I’m most passionate about – WE Education and advocacy work.”

Neti is one of 15 members serving on City of Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto’s LGBTQIA+ Advisory Council, which will make recommendations for internal and legislative policy affecting Pittsburgh’s LGBT community.

“Since the election, it's become really important for me to get more involved locally and with the issues that matter most to me. This council was the best start in that journey,” said Neti. “LGBT issues in Pittsburgh are near and dear to my heart."

Another common thread through Neti’s work is bridging the gap between technology and the humanities.

For example, Neti believes that the booming driverless car industry stands to benefit from a nuanced perspective of ethics and policy, and that the tech and non-profit sectors can work in tandem.

“Both fields have a lot to offer each other,” she said. “We need to work with the community—not for the community—to build solutions to technological challenges.”

At CMU, Neti did this by helping to organize Beyond the Binary, part of the 2016 Tartan Hacks event that challenged participants to use technology to prevent sexual assault and relationship violence on college campuses.

Geoffrey McGovern, a lecturer in the Institute for Politics and Strategy, advised Neti on her senior honors thesis, which explored the meaning of activism in the age of social media.

“Satvika is one of those incandescent students who burns just a little brighter because she combines her intellect with boundless passion and creativity,” said McGovern. “She represents all the brilliance and energy that reminds me how fortunate and honored I am to be a part of the CMU community.”