Carnegie Mellon University
June 25, 2021

Up for Debate

Dietrich College alumnus’s love of discourse and democracy leads to Harvard Law School

By Kristy Locklin

For Associate Professor of Science, Technology and Society Jay Aronson and Greg Volynsky, a 2020 Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences graduate, some of the most interesting lessons happened in the hallways of Baker Hall.

“Greg was in my History of American Public Policy class and we had a number of conversations while walking to my office,” Jay recalls. “I really enjoy students who are so clearly engaged in what I’m doing in the classroom and who push back, rethink and argue about other ways of interpreting things to piece together solutions.”

Even as a kid, Greg was eager to pick the brains of great thinkers. When he was age 10, he sent an email to researchers at MIT to learn about 3D printers. A post-doctoral student, perhaps not realizing Greg’s age, responded with all sorts of high-tech information.

“I still feel like everything I do is to further my education,” Greg says. “It’s not an end in and of itself; it’s a means.”

Greg, who earned a degree in behavioral economics, policy and organization at Carnegie Mellon University, will attend Harvard Law School in the fall. He took an unexpected pandemic gap year to do research for the Pennsylvania Prison Society, an organization that advocates for humane treatment of inmates, and is currently working for the Japanese consulate, learning how local and state politics converge with international diplomacy.

His parents emigrated from Ukraine in 1997, two years before he was born. He grew up hearing stories about atrocities in the USSR and developed a sense for the way in which law can create justice from injustice and opportunity from poverty.

Read more about Volynsky’s journey