Carnegie Mellon University
April 02, 2020

CMU Grad Student Releases 100th Podcast

By Michael Henninger

Dan Carroll
  • College of Engineering

Editor's Note: The reporting and photography from this story occured before Carnegie Mellon moved its Pittsburgh campus online in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Allanté Whitmore guides the conversation naturally, as though there weren't a studio microphone between her and Shena Marshall, her current interview subject. The two eagerly swap stories in a soundproof studio about how they came to graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University. Whitmore will take the recording and send it to an editor, who will shape it into an episode of her podcast "Blk+ In Grad School," which recently released its 100th episode.

Whitmore began recording these podcasts the day of her graduate orientation at CMU. She recorded 10 total episodes — more than two months' worth — before she felt ready to start releasing them.

"I used to feel like I wasn't good enough for graduate school, and I think that experience is very common, especially when you're the only person in the classroom who looks like you," Whitmore said. "Finding people, communities and resources to hold you up is key. One day it just clicked — let me share this experience."

Since its inception, Whitmore has interacted with hundreds of other grad students and people looking to go to grad school, offering wisdom and advice and sharing experience. She's connected with listeners through Twitter and Instagram, and hosts the "Grad School Success Summit," a virtual summit that aids newly admitted women and people of color for grad programs in the fall.

Whitmore, a GEM Associate Fellow, is currently pursuing a joint Ph.D in Civil and Environmental Engineering & Engineering and Public Policy from CMU's College of Engineering. Her work focuses on improving mobility and accessibility with autonomous vehicles, specifically in integrating autonomous vehicles with public transport. She likes to use the icebreaker, "My name is Allanté, which is a car. I come from Detroit, the Motor City. And at CMU, I study cars." She hosts an additional podcast, the Traffic21 Smart Transportation Podcast.

Destenie Nock, an assistant professor of engineering and public policy and civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, was featured on the 89th episode of "Blk + In Grad School," entitled "Getting on the Tenure Track."

"Allanté's podcast, Blk + In Grad School, is so important to the community of minorities, women and first-generation students who are considering graduate school," Nock said. "She provides proof to so many people that they can exist and be successful in academia. Her podcasts also hold a wealth of knowledge on everything from processing grief while in the Ph.D. program to how to travel the world while in graduate school."

Each week, a new episode detailing Whitmore's journey towards graduation gets posted to the "Blk + In Grad School" website, and through her efforts on the project, Whitmore continues to assure others that they aren't alone.

"I think the key to graduate school is persistence," Whitmore said. "That's persistence in applying, in getting assistance and in completing your coursework. You don't have to be the perfect student by any means to get through. You just have to be committed."