Carnegie Mellon University

Friedman Fellows 2020

July 27, 2020

Friedman Fellows embrace virtual "DC" experience

By Bill Brink

Cynthia Friedman lived in Washington, DC, for more than twenty years and loved every minute of it. Two of her children, Stephanie and Gordon, studied in the city, at George Washington University. Wouldn’t it be, she thought, “a good idea to give college students a chance to come there for the summer and intern.”

For the past twenty years, the Friedman Fellowships she created have given students that opportunity. Last week, Friedman met with this year’s Summer Friedman Fellows. She’s done this before, but this time, the COVID-19 pandemic turned the usual DC dinner into a Zoom call.  The virtual setup also allowed her three children, Stephanie, Gordon, and Bill, to join the gathering remotely.

“Come back to me later when the world opens up,” said Friedman, the co-founder of the Women’s Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee. “I’m all for dinners together, that would be a great pleasure.”

Friedman created the Fellowships in honor of her late husband, Milton Friedman, who earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering in 1947 and 1949. She has long supported the university, initially as a volunteer, and she is now a trustee.

Four CMU students received Friedman Fellowships this summer, which support the participation of undergraduate and graduate students in policy-related internships in Washington, DC. Policy is important for Friedman, who opened doors as the first woman to be elected to local government in the Johnstown area. Friedman’s ties to members of Congress and former presidents allow her to make important contacts in Washington on behalf of Carnegie Mellon.

“My internship is not something I’d be able to pursue without your support and external funding,” said David Robusto, who is pursuing his Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management and Data Analytics. Robusto, who this fall will enter his second year of graduate school, is interning in the office of the Chief Technology Officer for Public Diplomacy at the State Department.

Sean Donnelly, a Civil Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy major who will be a senior this year, interns with the Office of Positioning, Navigation and Timing, and Spectrum Management at the Department of Transportation. He is working on the issue of GPS “spoofing” on US cargo ships, figuring out how to prevent hacks.

Teagan Goforth, who graduated this spring with degrees in Civil Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy and will return to Carnegie Mellon in the fall to pursue her PhD in Engineering, is interning for the EPA. She works in the Clean Air Markets Division, modeling the phasing out of coal plants and the implementation of renewable energy. Jacob Feldgoise, a Policy and Management and Science, Technology, and Public Policy major, is spending the summer working as a House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology intern.

“We peer edit each other’s work, consolidate each of our contributions,” Feldgoise said. “It’s been fun to work with other interns even when they’re remote. We have zoom watch parties for hearings – everyone is super interesting, and I really enjoy getting to know them.”

Feldgoise could join Friedman alumni who currently serve as congressional staffers and hold positions in federal agencies, fulfilling Friedman’s mission in creating the fellowships: empowering students to become more involved in, and knowledgeable about, government.