Carnegie Mellon University
December 08, 2021

White Named Woman of Excellence

By Stacy Kish

Teraya White, an academic and career advisor in the Department of Statistics & Data Science, has been named among the New Pittsburgh Courier’s Women of Excellence Award honorees.

The Women of Excellence Awards celebrates local African American women who inspire others through their vision and leadership, exceptional achievements and participation in community service. Women of Excellence are champions of economic empowerment and diversity, provide the backbone of religious and educational organizations and are the driving force in politics and community service.

“It is still shocking to be named a woman of excellence,” said White. “It fills me with a sense of gratitude to my community that have poured their love into me, and I want to be able to share this optimism with other women so they can see themselves as worthy and valuable.”

White will join the newest class of 50 honorees during a ceremony at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Hotel at Station Square on Dec.16, 2021.

Shaped by the North Side

White grew up on the North Side of the city and credits her community and the Pittsburgh public school system for making her the woman she is today.

As a child, White grew up with a severe speech impediment and was often told that she would not amount to much. She may have believed them, except for the insight from one substitute teacher.

“I was hiding under the table and Carol Humphries came and got me,” said White. “She told me that one day I would be a great communicator, and people would listen to me.”

From that point on, White knew she wanted to be the ‘Carol Humphries’ to other people, giving them hope for the future.

White began working in higher education, first at Penn State University and later at the University of Pittsburgh. Later, she returned to the Pittsburgh Public School District where she had the opportunity to hire substitute teachers, in the search of more ‘Carol Humphries’ in the city. She returned to higher education when she took a position at Carnegie Mellon University in January 2020.

“People forget the nurturing love that students in higher education, even graduate students, need,” said White. “I have dedicated myself to encourage my students and try to make them see the possibilities for their future and instill hope.”

At Dietrich College, White works with master’s students in the Department of Statistics & Data Science. In this role, she helps her students navigate the path to their future careers and place them in jobs. Along the way, she also helps her students manage life’s never-ending challenges.

A New Job and a Pandemic

White began this important position just as the pandemic took hold across the campus, the state and the country. While everyone sequestered themselves in their homes, White saw this as an opportunity. She was committed to making every virtual interaction with her students and her colleagues meaningful. 

“For some of my students, I may be the only voice they heard that day,” said White. “So many of my students were alone, without family nearby.” 

The pandemic also offered an opportunity to slow down, look up and really experience life. White explains how she appreciated the extra time she had with her daughter who was in her junior year in high school when the pandemic began. Today, her daughter has gained her diploma and is now studying film and media studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

“I have learned through the pandemic how generous people are,” said White. “My students are the life blood of what I do. They drive me, motivate me, challenge me, because every student is unique and every year is different.”