Carnegie Mellon University

2023–2024 Undergraduate Spotlights

October | November | December | January | February | March | April | May

As a university laboratory school, we benefit from having undergraduate students participate in our school in a myriad of ways. From interns to student teachers to research methods students to student employees, our ongoing relationship with these students is mutually beneficial to all parties involved. Throughout the year, we will introduce you to these wonderful individuals in the Undergraduate Spotlight. We feel very fortunate to be able to have them at our school each day!

October 2023

Hilary Alonso – Preschool 4’s Intern
My name is Hilary, and I am from Long Island, New York.  I am also a sophomore psychology student here at CMU.  A fun fact about me is that, before I came to CMU, I was a ballet dancer for many years, but now I am a member of the rowing club!


Nmachi Emelogu-Obioma – PreK/Kindergarten Intern
My name is Nmachi. I’m a sophomore and a Biological Sciences and Psychology major on the PreMed track. I’m from Sugarland, Texas. I hope to go to Medical School after graduation and specialize in Pediatric Neurosurgery. During my free time, I love playing soccer and binge-watching shows!


Hanna Nazzaro – Preschool 4’s Intern
Hi! I'm Hanna, a senior studying math and psychology. I'm from Boston, and I enjoy playing guitar and baking in my free time. I'm working with the Preschool 4’s in the Green Room, and I have absolutely loved getting to know everyone so far! I am looking forward to both teaching and learning alongside the children this semester.


Ziggy Sheynin – Preschool 3’s Intern
My name is Ziggy, and I am a senior studying Psychology and Hispanic Studies. I am originally from the Bay Area, California. My first year of university was at Reed College in Portland, Oregon before I started at CMU as a sophomore. One fun fact about me is that I am a circus performer with Iron City Aerial, and I coach circus arts at Iron City Circus Arts. Before moving to Pittsburgh, I performed and trained with Circus Spire in California.


November 2023

Elizabeth Hager

lizzie-min.pngMy name is Elizabeth Hager, and I am a third-year undergraduate student studying Architecture here at Carnegie Mellon. I am from Prince George’s County, Maryland where I have previously worked as a summer camp counselor over my past few summers. As a camp counselor, I mostly had experience working with children aged 7 and older, and here at the school, I am with the kindergartners. This is my first semester working at the Children’s School, where a few times a week I help with classroom activities to assist the teachers. I find it to be such a privilege to be a part of the community here at the school since it really is a stress relief from the busy day I have as a student. All of the children are incredibly kind, as are the staff members and teachers at the school. The atmosphere is so positive, warm, and welcoming, and I have really enjoyed working here so far!

Joshna Iyengar

My name is Joshna Iyengar, and I am a senior studying Electrical and Computer Engineering at CMU. I am from a small town in Massachusetts near Boston. During my free time, I love pushing buggies for CIA’s buggy team, reading, learning new hobbies, and spending time with my friends and family. This semester, I have been working with the amazing Preschool 4’s! I have always loved spending time with children and showing them how to do things. Their youthful smiles and jumping about make all our adult responsibilities and stress feel unimportant. The teachers are also amazing, so I love talking to them and learning from them. Every day, I feel lucky to be working at the Children’s school, and teaching children is something I want to do even after I graduate!

December 2023

Faith Lawrence

Faith Lawrence collage

My name is Faith Lawrence, and I am currently a Junior studying Psychology / Pre-Medicine in Dietrich College! I am from Atlanta, Georgia. I am on Carnegie Mellon’s Softball Team, and in my free time I love listening to music and exploring different ways to express my creativity! I have been working with children for almost 6 years in summer camp programs and daycares, but this is my first semester working with The Children’s School. I have worked with the Preschool 3’s in both the Red/ Blue Room, but spend most of my time with Pre-K/Kindergarten. I love getting to know the different personalities that children have and working with the teachers to run different fun activities!

Tracy Yang

Tracy Yang collage

Hi, my name is Tracy Yang. I am currently a junior studying Information Systems and Business Administration. I am from Arkansas. (I know - me too. I haven’t met anyone from Arkansas here.) At the Children’s School, I work mostly with the Preschool 3’s. Even though this is my first semester working here, I feel like I have learned a lot already. The teachers here are very warm and welcoming, making this environment conducive to learning. From my time here, I have learned how to adapt my communication method with different personalities along with other skills such as organization and planning. The skills I learn here are enduring, possessing lifelong relevance. Most of all, working with the children has introduced me to many perspectives, providing an enriching experience. I find it heartwarming to be a part of their growth!

January 2024

Jackson Chen collage

Student employee Jackson Chen (above) is a freshman in Dietrich College with an interest in psychology and economics. Lilly Mcleod (below) is currently a senior studying psychology with a clinical concentration.

From Jackson: “I’m originally from Shenzhen, China. At the Children’s School, I’ve been helping in the Green Room with the Preschool 4’s.  In high school, I worked with children and parents as part of a charity initiative and loved the experience, so the Children’s School was a perfect place for me to continue that. My favorite thing about working here is the people and the collaborative environment, including the teamwork among the staff and building relationships with such a diverse group of students. Outside the Children’s School, I enjoy badminton, Sichuan opera, and the board game Go.”

From Lilly: “I am starting my first semester working with The Children School, and I am working with the Preschool 3’s. I was born in London but moved to Spain, Germany, and Miami before coming to Pittsburgh to study at CMU. From the small time I have spent here, I already love playing and being physically active with the children outdoors and seeing how they learn and grow everyday. I hope to be able to be there as a support and guide as they discover this big new world.”

Lilly McLeod collage

February 2024

During the spring 2024 semester, four undergraduate interns are taking Dr. Carver’s Practicum in Child Development course. They support our children and educators in the classroom six hours per week, while also engaging in a seminar with Dr. Carver every Wednesday.

Meet the interns!


Hello all, I'm Madeline Elston! I'm from a small town called Celina, Ohio, and I am grateful to spend my last undergraduate semester at CMU working with the amazing students, teachers, and administrators at the Children's School. I'll be graduating in May with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Psychology. In the past year I have focused my coursework on developmental psychology, and I have gotten to learn from amazing professors like Dr. Carver, Dr. Rakison, and Dr. Thiessen about how young minds work. Besides coursework, I do a lot of other work, too: I've been a camp counselor, a nanny, a babysitter, and now a preschool intern! I also love to cook Bengali food, bake bread, and do the New York Times Crossword. I am excited to see what the Preschool 3’s children and educators of this school have to teach me!


Hello everyone! My name is Ternilla Robinson, and I am a third-year undergraduate studying Architecture, with a big interest in Psychology. I enjoy anything creative, such as drawing, crocheting, and cooking/ baking, as well as being outdoors and one with the environment around me. Last semester, I took Dr. Rakison’s class Principles of Child Development, which sparked my interest to further pursue learning about and interacting with children. I have always had a general love for working with children and hope to use my experiences as inspiration for my future career in architecture. I’m really excited to continue the remainder of my semester interning at the Children’s School and can’t wait to see what’s in store!


Hello! My name is Anyah Stempien-Smith, and I'm from San Diego, California. I am a Senior United Negro College Fund (UNCF) STEM Scholar studying psychology. I have a love for language, I grew up going to French immersion school and have taken three semesters of Arabic here at Carnegie Mellon. During my free time, I enjoy roller skating, hiking, and voguing. I am also very into good sovereignty, cooperative farming, and herbalism. I've taken Dr. Rakison's Principles of Child Development Class, but my experience with children includes instructing golf lessons at The First Tee of San Diego and working with Mad Science as an after-school program instructor. I look forward to growing with the kindergartners this semester and fostering a loving learning environment for everyone!


Hi everyone! My name is Suzy Switzer and I am from Evanston, Illinois. I am a junior studying Literature and Culture, with an additional major in Psychology. I am also pursuing a minor in Hispanic Studies. I just returned from an incredible experience studying abroad in Madrid, Spain last semester. Besides academics, I love reading, dancing, baking, and traveling. I took the Principles of Child Development class two years ago and found it fascinating! I also enjoyed working in a preschool last summer. The Practicum in Child Development seemed like the natural next step to apply what I have learned in my classes and gain hands-on experience. I hope to work with children in whatever career path I end up choosing. I'm excited to get to know and work with the Preschool 4's this semester!

March 2024

Meet Abe and April, two of our first-year undergraduate employees. We love to hire first-year students so we can invest in supporting their learning and contributions to our program throughout their 4 years at CMU.

a collage of Abe

My name is Abe James, and I am a first year Carnegie Mellon student majoring in Creative Writing, with an additional major in Film & Visual Media. I am originally from Albany, New York. I have had a lot of experience working with younger children because of my younger brothers and various volunteer opportunities. In my free time, I like going to museums, listening to music, and drawing! So far I have been working with the Preschool 4s in the Green Room. All the adults and children in the Children’s School are so friendly and helpful! I have learned a lot thanks to all the people here. I really enjoy the time I spend here and look forward to everything that may come!

a collage of April

My name is April Chou, and I'm a first-year undergraduate studying Cognitive Science at CMU, with aspirations to become a doctor. I am originally from San Jose, California. A big part of the reason I chose CMU was the unique opportunity the Children's School provides. In my time here, I've mainly worked in the Blue and Red Rooms with 3-year-olds and the Green Room for 4-year-olds. Though the course load at the university is tough, my daily interactions at the Children's School help to put things in perspective. Whether we're playing outside or eating lunch indoors, every day is enjoyable and refreshing at the Children's School. In my free time, I enjoy shopping and hunting for tasty treats in Pittsburgh with friends.

April 2024

Meet Amanda and Kate, two of our undergraduate employees. Amanda is also a student in Dr. Carver’s Principles of Child Development course this semester.

A collage of Amanda

Hello! My name is Amanda Puentes, and I am a first-year undergraduate student studying psychology at CMU. I am from the city of Frederick, MD. In my free time I love to crochet, bike, thrift, and spend time with my family and friends. This is my first semester working at the Children’s School, and I am really happy to be working in the Green Room with the Preschool 4’s. I have always loved working with children and hope to pursue a career specializing in working with children and youth. I am very grateful to be working at a school where I can see so much care, kindness, and attentiveness to the children. Coming to the school in the mornings is a great way to start my Thursdays and I love being able to interact with the children and teachers through various activities. I look forward to continuing to work at the Children’s School!

A collage of Kate

Hi! My name is Kate Russo. I am a junior in the Bachelor of Humanities and Arts (BHA) Program studying Art and Social & Political History. This is my fourth semester at the Children’s School. I have been lucky enough to spend time in every age-group’s classroom, but I primarily help with the Preschool 4’s this spring. Outside of my classes, I work at CMU’s student-run Frame Gallery and am a member of the women’s club water polo team. Playing in the classroom, taking outdoor adventures, or telling lunchtime jokes with the children never fails to put a smile on my face. I have always found spending time with children to be a joyful experience, so I am thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of the welcoming Children’s School team.

May 2024: Farewell, Seniors!

The Children’s School would like to congratulate and wish all the best to our graduating seniors, Megan Matsko, Lilly McLeod, and Ziggy Sheynin. They have been a tremendous addition to The Children’s School community and we will miss them!

We know all these graduates will do great things!

Megan Matsko

Megan Matsko

Megan has taken every possible course at the Children’s School, served as a student employee, and collected data for her senior thesis research here this spring on “The Effect of Confidence on the Uptake of Feedback in Adults and Children”. In the fall, she is heading to the University of Alabama to earn her Ph.D. in child clinical psychology, specifically doing research on ADHD in children.

From Megan, “First and foremost I wanted to thank the Children's School for all the amazing experiences it has given me throughout the last 4 years. The Children's School aided me in selecting CMU as a college in the first place, and it definitely lived up to my expectations in every way, and even exceeded them. Therefore, I just wanted to send my gratitude for everything that the Children's School has done for me and the career path it has helped me achieve.”

Lilly McLeod

Lilly McLeod

Lilly won the Psychology Research prize at CMU’s recent Meeting of the Minds undergraduate conference for her thesis on “Psychosocial Contextual Factors Associated with Cannabis Consumption and Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)”. Lilly is planning to work for the next two years as a research assistant before pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical/health psychology.

Learn more about "Meeting of the Minds"

Ziggy Sheynin

Ziggy Sheynin

Ziggy, a Psychology and Hispanic Studies double major, received the Gretchen Goldsmith Lankford Award, which recognizes a Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences student with exceptional academic and professional achievement who plans to pursue graduate studies in education. Ziggy is starting her masters degree in Social Work at The University of Pittsburgh this fall.

Read more about Ziggy's award