Chris Hayes Nolin

While a student at Carnegie Mellon University, chemistry major Chris Hayes Nolin (S'85) threw herself into the whirl of campus life. The Kiltie Band drum major and sorority member discovered a special sense of community, something she's embraced to this day.

"CMU has given me so much in my life — so much support and connection and a sense of identity," Nolin said. "There's my home in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and there's my home here at CMU."

After graduation, the Pittsburgh native found herself working in New Jersey, alone in an unfamiliar city. She contacted her local alumni chapter and with one BBQ, found the same warm sense of belonging, hundreds of miles from home.

Five years ago, Nolin returned to CMU as a senior project manager of university computer services. She wasted no time in enriching the community.

Among other things, she's served as a reunion and reunion giving volunteer, an alumni admission interviewer, a sorority and fraternity advisor on the faculty/staff giving committee, and now as a new member of the Alumni Association Board.

Not surprisingly, Nolin was honored with the Alumni Service Award in 2011 for outstanding service to the university.

And as a staff member, she's found the same strong connection she encountered as a student.

"This place is so vibrant, it keeps me young," said Nolin. "We're working in such an awesome place that to me, giving back in support of students or faculty research is just a given and I'd like to share that enthusiasm."

It's a family sentiment. Daughter Liz and son Patrick both attended CMU's pre-college summer programs. Liz is now a freshman in the design program while Patrick is a College of Fine Arts applicant.

"My kids grew up on this campus," said Nolin. "We all bleed plaid. Liz was on the website at midnight when admission decisions came in and we had to immediately call Grandma and her friends with the good news."

In fact, Nolin and her artist husband feel so strongly about CMU that they recently established an ACS Legacy Scholarship, the J. Patrick and Marlene Hayes Scholarship, in honor of Nolin's parents.

"I feel such a close connection to this entire community," Nolin explained. "If I can help one student pursue that dream of a fine arts degree and career, however I can contribute to it, it's something. Maybe in 20 years, he or she will be another great ambassador for CMU."

When Nolin recently attended Liz's open design studio, she brought cookies for the class — and information about the Loyal Scot program. An approving Liz smiled. As Nolin says, "There's just a bond."

People like the Nolins help sustain our vibrant and thriving community.

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Related Links: Student Support | Summer Pre-College Programs | Mellon College of Science | School of Design | Student Life | Alumni Association | Loyal Scot

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