Current Scholars

Scholar Class of 2016-2017

Jamie Earnest

Jamie Earnest

Art, Scholar Class of 2016-2017

Bio

“Being an art major at a university rather than an art school allows me to interact with many different types of people and professionals. Carnegie Mellon has enriched my artistic studies by exposing me to friends in different fields than my own. I am around peers who problem solve and think differently than I do; I have always been interested in the cross connections that I share with my peers who work in other fields. Science, architecture, and social science all inform my artistic practice so it is special that I get to find niches of peers who can inspire and teach me with what they are passionate about. My project is an attempt to allow students in other disciplines than my own to be able to work with art and be involved in the artistic scene of Carnegie Mellon’s campus community.”

Jamie was born and raised in Alabama and has always been interested in art, but for the majority of her childhood and teenage years she wanted to pursue medicine. Upon attending an arts high school in Birmingham, Alabama, it wasn’t until midway through her junior year that she decided she could never part with her true passion of art making. She realized that being an artist wasn’t a choice for her, it was something that she can never turn off. The switch of creative thinking, art making in her head is always on, it never turns off. Jamie believes that art is not only a special expression of oneself, but a unique occurrence for others to experience in their own way. Jamie believes that art is never restricted to an elitist audience, but is something that unifies all people and she intends to continue to find and share her special relationship to the world through art making.

Rachel Freer

Rachel Freer

Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Scholar Class of 2016-2017

Bio

“Whenever people ask me what I like best about Carnegie Mellon, I always say the people. Every single person on this campus never ceases to inspire me with his or her talents, skills, and personalities and I couldn’t imagine there being a better set of people on any campus. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from this incredible community for an additional year and to develop additional sexual assault resources to continue providing support to the students and staff.”

Just 3.5 hours from sunny Pittsburgh resides Rachel’s conveniently located hometown, York, Pennsylvania. Originally dead set on attending Johns Hopkins University, Rachel found herself craving the collaborative engineering environment that she discovered when she stepped foot on Carnegie Mellon’s campus. After arriving on campus, Rachel was overwhelmed with the immense number of opportunities CMU had to offer both inside and outside of the classroom. During her first year, Rachel dabbled in a variety of different organizations to try to find what she was most passionate about. Throughout her years, she has discovered her place in Student Life, Tri Delta, thrive@CMU, Challah for Hunger, Survivor Support Network, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, and Order of Omega Greek Honor Society. The variety of classes available at CMU have led Rachel to a new set of academic interests outside of engineering including computer science, neuroscience, and psychology.  For her project, Rachel hopes to further expand upon the sexual assault and relationship violence (SARV) resources currently available to Carnegie Mellon students. Over all else, Rachel really just wants survivors to feel comfortable on campus and to have the community be more open to conversations surrounding SARV.

Angela Ng

Angela Ng

Civil Engineering, Scholar Class of 2016-2017

Bio

"With ease, I fall in love with the passion of others. The way their eyes light up when they talk about something they are deeply passionate about: a person, an idea, a major. Their words drip with inspiration for the things they love. That’s Carnegie Mellon for you. It is here that you’ll find students, that even outside of their class obligations, will eagerly stay up all night - creating a new program, developing lifesaving technologies, perfecting a buggy - making memories that last a lifetime. Carnegie Mellon radiates with this beautiful brilliance, and with that, I have fallen in love. With our hearts so deeply in the work, it is often all too easy to lose ourselves. I came here knowing who I was, and I have lost myself over and over, but each time I find myself better and better. With this gift of a fifth year scholar, I hope to continue to be pushed and grow in ways I can't even imagine, but help others fall in love with Carnegie Mellon, and find themselves."

Born and raised in Michigan, Angela has still not learned how to overcome the cold harsh winters of Pittsburgh. Since coming to Carnegie Mellon, she help found Project Smile, a Happiness Club, and The Mindfulness Room, a room of inspiration, relaxation, and a place to just be. She has found her passions lie most in building the one on one relationships with her residents as a live-in Mentor, Residential Assistant, and then Community Advisor. She found herself immersed in different cultures as she traveled across the world from Guatemala, to Kenya, to Columbia, to Rwanda, Qatar, and Bangladesh. She studies Civil and Environmental Engineering with a double in Biomedical Engineering so she can hopefully bring clean sanitation water purification and medical devices to developing countries, and is currently working on The Drinkable Book Project. She is currently working on bringing Therapy Animals on campus for her fifth year scholar project. Angela's dream is to alleviate the stress culture on campus. 

Todd Medema

Todd Medema

Technology, Entrepreneurship and Design, Scholar Class of 2016-2017

Bio

“Carnegie Mellon has always been the university of my dreams. It is one of the only places in the world where you can study from top people in every field, from business and engineering to music and design. My fifth year here will give me the chance to leave my mark in an area I care dearly about - what our students will do after they graduate.”

Born an adventurer, Todd thrives on the unorthodox. Before coming to Carnegie Mellon, he had already traveled the world, wrote a novel, started a company, performed in classical and jazz music ensembles, and much more. Since arriving at Carnegie Mellon, he has thrived in an environment filled with interdisciplinary innovation. Between studying for his self-defined degree in Technology, Entrepreneurship and Design, he founded two startups, became the youngest .406 Ventures Student Fellow in history, and launched several student initiatives to encourage campus innovators to build with impact in mind. Most recently, Todd funded a $21,000 Kickstarter for a unique entertainment experience combining technology with in-person interactions. After graduating, Todd aims to become a full time inventor to inspire joy, curiosity and innovation.

Nitsan Shai

Nitsan Shai

Electrical and Computer Engineering, Scholar Class of 2016-2017

Bio

"CMU is a wonderful community where students work harder than they have ever worked before in order to achieve their goals and dreams. When I heard about the Fifth Year Scholar program, I saw an incredible opportunity to help the students of this community achieve their goals. With my project, I would like to fill the gaps in the availability of online student resources and work alongside Academic Development, student and faculty advisors, and the SIO team to integrate some of these student resources into a unified, user-friendly, and technologically advanced platform that students could utilize to find university resources with ease and manage their time more successfully."

Nitsan Shai is studying Electrical and Computer Engineering and minoring in Computer Science and Music. Outside of his academics, Nitsan is the student supervisor of the Academic Development Department, a leader in the Greek community on campus, and a leader in student performance organizations including The Originals and Scotch'n'Soda.

Scholar Class of 2017-2018

Aliaa Essameldin

Aliaa Essameldin

Computer Science, Scholar Class of 2017-2018

Bio

"Being a Carnegie Mellon student has opened my eyes to a world of opportunities I did not know existed. From a newly-discovered interest in the arts to my ability to work with world-class professors and researchers, CMU has taught me that you should never stop exploring, nor ever doubt your ability to make a real change. So when a chance to stay for an extra year presented itself, I could not help but hang to it as tightly as I could. To me, staying for a fifth year is not only about the extra classes that I will attend nor the skills that I will develop, but it's also about being able to share this insight with others. Through my community project, I hope to create an environment for programmers all over the world to explore their interests in as much depth as possible and discover their true potential as well as show it off to the world."

Aliaa is a senior in the Computer Science program. Raised in Egypt and moving to Qatar when she was 15, Aliaa has embraced the leadership opportunities at CMU-Q: she was president of the Computing Club, head of academics in the Student Majlis (Student Union), Head Orientation Counselor and a volunteer in the CS4Qatar, CS4Qatar for Women and Botball outreach programs. She has also worked as a course assistant in courses such as Writing for Academic Practices and Parallel Data Structures and Algorithms. In addition to her involvement in campus life, Aliaa conducted research projects both on and off campus. She is now working on her senior thesis in the Networking Systems Lab. During her semester in Pittsburgh, she developed an interest in the arts, especially in film photography, which inspired her to apply to the Fifth Year Scholar program so she can return to Pittsburgh and take more arts classes. Aliaa has proposed a community project called The Hack Games, which will allow computer scientists and programmers to develop and show-off their skills to potential employers. 

Lauren Valley

Lauren Valley

Art, Scholar Class of 2017-2018

Bio

“Over the past four years, I have had the opportunity to work with students across majors, develop skills and training on machinery I didn’t know existed and create work I didn’t think I was capable of. CMU has a way of bringing out the best in its students, and I truly believe that what I gained from Carnegie Mellon, I couldn’t have gotten from any other school.”

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Lauren knew she wanted to attend Carnegie Mellon from the time she was in fourth grade, but it wasn’t until her junior year she learned of the school’s reputation. Carnegie Mellon prides itself on interdisciplinary collaboration, and the moment Lauren got to campus, she sought out ways integrate technology into her artistic practice. Sophomore year, Lauren became involved in the IDeATe program and her work saw an immediate shift towards robotics. Lauren’s work attempts to expose the humor and humanity in robots through video, sculpture, performance, and installation. In addition to making art, Lauren loves sharing her knowledge with others. During her fifth year, she hopes to continue this skill share by developing a set of guided robotic projects for middle and high school students.

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson

Electrical and Computer Engineering, Scholar Class of 2017-2018

Bio

“I am in love with the Carnegie Mellon community.  One of the things that make our community so wonderful is its very diverse set of backgrounds and perspectives.  I think we can do more to explore the distance between these backgrounds and perspectives, both for the voices in our community which are not heard, but also for those in our community who do not understand those voices.  The exploration and questioning of my own identity privileges is helping me to both understand my current self better, as well as become a better person.  These questions about privilege and identity are often messy and imperfect, but I am always glad to have asked.  Through the Fifth Year Scholar program, I hope to continue this exploration and challenge for myself, but also to share in this questioning with other members of our campus community.”  

Nick came to Carnegie Mellon from Blacksburg, Virginia, a small college town in the Appalachian Mountains. Nick is majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering, with a double major in Engineering and Public Policy. While he has learned a lot in his classes, some of his most salient growing experiences have been through other campus involvements: being a Community Advisor, a Course Assistant, an upper class Ambassador for first year students, an Orientation Counselor, and a member of the University Disciplinary Committee and Academic Review Board. These experiences, as well as his everyday interactions with his fellow students, have helped Nick to learn from the perspectives of others. His project goal is to imbue campus culture with a comfort in uncomfortable dialogue. He hopes to accomplish this through a recurring retreat for student leaders, to develop listening and dialogue skills.