Carnegie Mellon University
May 14, 2021

Student and Alumna Represent Dietrich College at Commencement

By Michael Henninger

Four distinguished guests will virtually join Carnegie Mellon University's Class of 2021 Commencement exercises. France A. Córdova and Martha C. Nussbaum, as well as Carnegie Mellon graduates Jewell P. Rhodes and Robert D. Summer, will receive honorary degrees from the university. The ceremonies — open only to graduating students — will be held on Saturday, May 22, for graduate students and Sunday, May 23, for undergraduates. Both will be livestreamed online for all others, including friends, family and the CMU community.

"It is a Carnegie Mellon tradition to award honorary degrees at commencement to exemplary leaders, whose life and work serve as an inspiration for CMU students, faculty and staff," said President Farnam Jahanian. "I extend heartfelt congratulations in advance to the Class of 2021, a class that has persevered unlike any other, and to these deserving honorary degree recipients."

Doctor of Humane Letters

CMU alumna Jewell P. Rhodes is the Piper Endowed Chair and founding artistic director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. A three-time CMU graduate, Rhodes is a New York Times bestselling author whose works for adults and children on topics of social justice, equality and environmental stewardship have garnered numerous awards, including Jane Addams Peace Award and a Coretta Scott King Honor Award. Rhodes will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Student Speakers 

This year's student speakers are Frank Avino, who is earning an MBA from the Tepper School of Business, and Maria Cristina Pullen, who is graduating with bachelor's degrees in professional writing and international relations and politics from the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Pullen, who will graduate with Dean's List High Honors, will address her classmates during the undergraduate student ceremony on Sunday, May 23. Pullen was vice president of the Panhellenic Council, a residential assistant for first-year gender-inclusive housing, a teaching assistant for the Department of English and School of Computer Science, and an academic coach for Academic Development. She studied abroad in Poland and France, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C., as a Cynthia Friedman Fellow. Pullen recently received the Senior Leadership Award and was named an Andrew Carnegie Society Scholar. She will join Salesforce as a technical writer in San Francisco this summer.

More information about this year's events can be found on CMU's Commencement website

Read more about the honorary degree recipients and student speakers