Carnegie Mellon University
May 07, 2024

Sheynin Receives Gretchen Goldsmith Lankford Award

By Marissa Pekular

Ziggy Sheynin, a psychology and Hispanic studies double major, has received the Gretchen Goldsmith Lankford Award. This annual award recognizes one student in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences with exceptional academic and professional achievement who plans to pursue graduate studies in education.

“I am honored to receive this award,” said Sheynin. “It means a lot to be able to continue pursuing a career that will help people and is dedicated to furthering children’s education.”

Discovering a Passion for Child Development

Sheynin transferred to Carnegie Mellon University her sophomore year and soon found a future path after completing a required Dietrich College General Education course — Principles of Child Development (85-221). Another course — Practicum in Child Development (85-484) —  offered Sheynin an opportunity to work as a student employee at the CMU Children’s School, a laboratory school that is actively involved in preschool and kindergarten education, developmental research, undergraduate teaching and training of both pre-service and practicing educators. While taking the course and serving as a student employee, Sheynin discovered the joy of working with children and her interest in studying child development.

“Ziggy Sheynin is a bright, mature and dedicated senior,” said Sharon M. Carver, who taught the course and is the director of the Children’s School at CMU.  “[She has] the intellectual foundations, interpersonal savvy, inner strength and [a] passionate drive to support the development of children.”

Sheynin focused her activities in the program’s preschool program through Kindergarten. During this time, she supported teachers with lesson planning and maintaining the classroom. She also assisted the students with their classroom work.

Gaining Valuable Experience and Insights

“The Children’s School has helped me to discover how much I love working with kids and getting to support their education,” said Sheynin. “I have learned more about managing a classroom and understanding how to meet children where they are. I have [also] learned how to connect with children and understand what they need even when they cannot express it in words.” 

Sheynin points to her experiences at the Children’s School in helping to solidify her future education goals and career ambitions. In particular, she points to her experience with one child who had difficulty adjusting. By working with him and forming a connection, Sheynin was able to help him develop and improve.

“It was so rewarding to see him do better developing language skills and playing with the other kids,” said Sheynin.

Balancing Academic and Extracurricular Involvement

Outside of her academic work, Sheynin was also involved with Iron City Circus Arts, a circus community in the South Side of Pittsburgh. In the circus, Sheynin has had the opportunity to perform, but also to coach her colleagues. She currently coaches the youth program and handstands.

As a 2024 graduating senior, Sheynin will pursue a Master of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh next fall. She looks forward to a career working with children and young adults, building on the passions that she developed throughout her undergraduate career at Carnegie Mellon.

“People have told me that I would be a great teacher, but I never thought it would be something I wanted to do. I have been told I work well with children, but I never really believed them,” said Sheynin. “Now, I love working with kids and my time at the Children's School proved that.”