Carnegie Mellon University

orientation week 2017

August 30, 2017

Welcome to Dietrich College, It’s a Feast for the Mind

By Stefanie Johndrow

Attending college can be one of the most transformative journeys, and the beginning presents quite a few unknowns. Luckily, the new first-year students in Carnegie Mellon University’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences are joining a legacy built on respect and inclusiveness.

“You are not alone,” said Dietrich College Dean Richard Scheines. “Carnegie Mellon is a community in the true sense of the word. We care for and about one another.”

deans welcome

During his orientation remarks, Scheines ran down a brief list of Dietrich College accolades, including six members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, four members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and two members of the National Academy of Education and advised students of the opportunities and resources within their reach.

“From creative writing to cognitive psychology, ethics, history and public policy and information systems, you have a veritable intellectual feast in front of you,” Scheines said. “My message? Eat in zest and sample the whole buffet.”

Senior Cameron Dively echoed the opportunity theme. A peer mentor and ethics, history and public policy major, Dively shared how he made the most out of his first three years at CMU.

“Coming in as a freshman, I had no concept of just how many opportunities CMU had to offer,” Dively said. “The faculty and staff want you to thrive.”

Dively’s prime example was an interaction he had during his sophomore year with Dietrich College Associate Dean Jay Devine.

“Dr. Devine reached out to me and said, ‘Here’s this cool fellowship. I think you might like it,’” Dively said. “He met with me, talked with me through the application process. He opened that door for me, all I had to do was walk through it.

”Dively added, “Be willing to walk through those doors when they’re open.”

heinz history center

Chances to start bonding with one another were offered throughout Orientation Week. Some of these opportunities included an Instagram photo contest and meeting with the entire incoming class and faculty at the Heinz History Center.

Marlene Behrmann, the Cowan University Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and one of Dietrich College’s NAS members, felt energized from her conversations with the new class was impressed by the kinds of questions they asked.

“This is why I love what I do,” Behrmann said.

professor with students at heinz history center

Later in the week, students participated in a session on bringing awareness, being allies, and having the power to change dialogue, coordinated by Ayana Ledford, director of diversity and inclusion in the Dietrich College.

Students who attended the session took away the importance of respecting the opinions of others, being good listeners, and not being afraid to be vulnerable.

“I learned that we’re not all from the same place, but we’re all working together,” said Guillermina Tocalini, who is interested in pursuing a degree in information systems.

When discussing the essence of collaboration and student responsibility at CMU, Rebecca Nugent, teaching professor of statistics and data science, and Psychology Professor Daniel Oppenheimer urged students to consider their actions and repercussions.

“I want to encourage everyone to take a little bit of time to think about what happens when you make a bad decision, quite often the focus of academic integrity,” Nugent said. “There’s a lot of pressure upfront about ‘don’t make the bad decision’ but sometimes bad decisions happen. Students who can think through the bad decisions they make and talk about it, those are the students who tend to have greater success.”

Oppenheimer added, “Your mind is a house you’re going to live in for the rest of your life. This is four years where you can decorate it to be awesome. Spend your time really learning.”

Reflecting on the week, students talked with one another about key takeaways and what they’re excited for.

“Playfair was the point where I really started to see how cohesive, supportive and fun of a community CMU is,” said Eileen You (DC ’21).

“It’s been community building, immediately from the get go,” said CJ Rosado, who is interested in studying psychology. “I’m most excited to get into clubs and groups such as the LGBT group Allies, because where I grew up there wasn’t much for LGBT people, so maybe I can bring some of that back to my hometown.”

For the first time, Dietrich College Orientation was organized by the Academic Advisory Center (AAC).

“My hope is that students realized all that CMU, Dietrich and Pittsburgh have to offer them throughout their four years in the college,” said Ana Maria Ulloa, assistant dean and director of the AAC. “I hope they feel they made the right decision in coming to Dietrich and have begun developing a network of support with their peers, faculty and staff.”

As students begin this journey at CMU and fulfill the expectations they have for themselves, Devine let everyone know upfront that he has hopes of his own for them.

“Mark the date: Sunday, May 23, 2021, 11 a.m. in Gesling Stadium. We expect to see all of you there,” Devine said.

View photos from Orientation Week.