Carnegie Mellon University

Volunteer Spotlight: Audrey Sykes (S 1981)

Volunteer Spotlight: Audrey Sykes (S 1981)

Paying It Forward

Audrey Sykes (S 1981) made her way to Carnegie Mellon by skipping a math class to attend a presentation on a CMU summer program focused on math and science. The experience at that five-week program convinced her that Carnegie Mellon was the only place for her.

“I love Carnegie Mellon, and I love what the institution has stood for in the past and what it means for the future,” she said. “The expectation of excellence that CMU instills in its students has never faltered, and every graduate has an internal core of striving to achieve their absolute best.”

Sykes celebrates her alumni status by volunteering extensively. She is a past president and a current director of the Carnegie Mellon Black Alumni Association (CMBAA), leading the effort to encourage giving to the CMBAA Endowment Fund. She has helped with reunions and reunion giving campaigns and worked with prospective students through the admission recruitment process. Sykes has served on the Department of Biological Sciences Advisory Board and recently participated on an alumni panel on career paths and diversity in science for COMPASS (COaching Minority Progress and Academic Success in Science), a peer mentoring organization in the Mellon College of Science (MCS).

She has also established two ACS Legacy Scholarships for female MCS students in her late mother’s name.

“I give financially because Carnegie Mellon always found funding for me, and it was provided by alumni giving,” said Sykes. “When my mother dropped me off on campus as a freshman, she told me to finish school, no matter what. Because of alumni generosity, I was able to complete my degree.”

Sykes majored in biology and intended to go on to medical school, but instead chose a career in the biotechnology industry. She is currently the director of business development at IDT Biologika, a contract manufacturing company that helps clients develop and manufacture new vaccines for phase I/II clinical trials. She also earned a master of science degree in marketing and international business from Johns Hopkins University.

Sykes ranks her CMU education as the best personal investment she could have ever made. She is thrilled by the energy and camaraderie she sees on campus and the emphasis on students’ health and well-being.

She said: “It’s great to give back. I want to make sure Carnegie Mellon continues to thrive.”

The Carnegie Mellon Black Alumni Association (CMBAA) is an organization that cultivates and facilitates a highly effective network for Black Alumni; encourages a spirit of mentorship to students; highlights achievements of alumni and students; and assists the University in its efforts to grow and support a diverse community. Learn about the CMBAA and ways to volunteer at the CMBAA web page.

Connect with Audrey at LinkedIn