Students Honored for Contributions to Carnegie Mellon’s Quality of Life
Two earn Student Engagement Awards from the CMU Alumni Association
Two students known for fostering connections on campus and beyond will receive 2018 Student Engagement Awards from Carnegie Mellon’s Alumni Association this spring. Thanks to their significant contributions to the quality of life at the university and alumni engagement with students and CMU, Olivia Roy (E 2017, CMU 2018) and Tara Stentz (E 2018) will be honored at a luncheon with the Alumni Association Board, their parents and nominators on Friday, May 18.
“Olivia and Tara have made an incredible impact through their commitment to fostering caring, welcoming connections between students, alumni and the greater CMU community,” said Becca Allison (CMU 1996, HNZ 2001), immediate past president of the Alumni Association Board and co-chair of the Alumni Awards Committee.
“The efforts of these students to bring students and alumni together in meaningful ways in addition to their CMU and academic activities is inspiring,” Chris Stengel (CS 1993, TPR 2000), co-chair of the committee, who nominated Stentz for this award. “They have created experiences that will stay with their fellow students and keep them connected beyond their graduation.”
Roy, who earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and will graduate with a master’s in Integrated Innovation for Products and Services, is, above all, a believer in the power of stories. As a resident assistant in Etower, she coordinated the TowerTalks experience, offered her residents a safe space to be themselves and share their stories in an open and engaged atmosphere. In 2016, she created and managed two campus-wide storytelling events, “Here is My CMU,” for students, faculty and alumni to share their personal narratives. The program evolved into the First Lecture during Undergraduate Orientation by inviting CMU alumni to share their stories of CMU with the incoming class. This year, she has worked to expand it further into a storytelling podcast called “Pass the Mic.” Together with a group of interested students, she created a plan for the program and produced a preview that was shared at the 50th Anniversary Student Exhibition.
As a junior, Roy was selected to travel to CMU’s campus in Qatar with IMPAQT, a relationship-building program with students on CMU’s Qatar campus, and has served as an ambassador between the two campuses since, including leading a group of graduate students to CMU-Q to mentor students in a start-up competition.
Roy is known across campus for her friendliness and welcoming nature. She has travelled to Israel, organized interfaith events on campus and conducted research in the mechanical engineering department at the intersection of product design and gender studies. In the future, Roy hopes to combine her interests in product design and storytelling by pursuing a career in mechanical engineering and design research.
During her years at CMU, Stentz, who will graduate in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering and a minor in computer science, has been deeply involved with the introductory class, 15-112 Fundamentals of Programming. She has served as a teaching assistant (TA) for seven semesters and as a head TA for the past two years. The course policy changes that Stentz helped push for improved the TA staff morale and cohesion, and reduced the stress and workload for the 1,000 students who take the class each year. She also launched Hack112, an annual weekend-long event that involves alumni and shows students how the skills they’ve learned in the Fundamentals of Programming course can be applied.
Her passion for education extends to every level, from the local Girls Who Code Club to the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda. This year, she also served as a teaching assistant for a new project, CMU CS Academy, a free, online high school computer science curriculum developed by master’s students.
On campus, Stentz also participates in a cappella, Dancers’ Symposium and Scotch’n’Soda shows. She is a member of Delta Gamma sorority and a leader in Greek Sing charity events.
Stentz has interned at Microsoft in Seattle and Uber Advanced Technology Group in Pittsburgh. After graduation, she will join Uber’s team to work on the development of autonomous vehicles.