Carnegie Mellon University
August 25, 2020

Collage Continues Display of Diversity

By Michael Henninger

Jason Maderer
  • Marketing and Communications
  • 412-268-1151

Student speaker Q Quaye appears on screen after an energized performance from CMU Bhangra recorded in 2019. The spirit of Community Collage, a pillar of Carnegie Mellon University's Orientation activities, has not changed. It remains a vehicle for the incoming class to experience a collection of stories and performances from seasoned students. The venue, however, has transitioned to an online presentation as CMU enters its hybrid fall semester in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Quaye, a rising junior studying statistics in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, relates their experience and difficulty trying to find a path. Acting upon the advice of their adviser, Quaye took a myriad of classes their first year instead of declaring a major prematurely.

"Two years later, I can finally say that I'm starting to figure myself out," Quaye said to Collage viewers. "Take your time and explore everything. Even if you think you might have it all figured out, you could possibly discover something that could change your life."

Watch this year's Community Collage.

Diaj Toussaint is this year's head orientation counselor in charge of Collage. Toussaint choose to attend CMU sight unseen, and Orientation was his introduction to the university. He's worked on the Orientation staff for three years, and was among the graduates of the class of 2020 to participate in the first virtual conferral of degrees. Now he's working to achieve a master's degree in electrical and computer engineering.

"Community Collage is a chance for students who have been here a while to present their paths and see what resonates with incoming first-years in the audience," Toussaint said. "It's my favorite Orientation event."

Incidentally, some of the changes made post-COVID-19 were already in the works. Toussaint's goal for Collage was to give it life beyond the hour slot at Orientation.

"How can we make Community Collage last more than just an hour?" He asked. "There was a lot of effort, pre- and post-COVID this year. I want to give people who are not familiar with the university a lens into it through Collage, because it does accurately capture major aspects of CMU at a point in time."

Toussaint opened the event, welcoming the class of 2024+ to the CMU community. He then introduced Gina Casalegno, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students.

"Today's collection of spoken word, artistic performances and personal narratives is a tradition I cherish each year," Casalegno said. "Collage is a time to pause and reflect upon the unparalleled opportunity that lies ahead for each of us as we embrace you, the class of 2024, and all the wisdom, life experiences and passion you bring that will help us grow as a university."

This year's Collage gave many nods to years past, playing performances recorded in 2017, 2018 and 2019 from student dance groups Infra Dance Company, K-Pop Dance Club, Soulstylz, Awareness of Roots in Chinese Culture, Spirit Dance Crew and CMU Raasta; past stories about faith, poems inspired by violent protests in Charlottesville, and a song performed by a School of Drama ensemble that performs annually at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards.

Asha-Anne Tyagi, a sophomore from the College of Engineering and a student ambassador at the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, closed out the event by introducing students to the Center and welcoming all students to a safe space.

"The friends I make and the knowledge I gain at the Center, I carry with me all throughout my college experience," Tyagi said. "We encourage you to also have this empowering experience and feel at home here."

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