Applications always seem to come in hordes. Prepping resumes and statements always is such a narrow high–I feel great about myself because I have all of my accomplishments laid out, and beyond shallow that I could even conceive of encapsulating my life in 2 pages of bullet-points. Below is one of the more authentic-feeling informal responces I’ve given lately, to the question of a) how have I benefited from Carnegie Mellon, and b) how have I given back:
Carnegie Mellon’s community of communities is ideal for people with multiple geekinesses and multiple intelligences. As a student of opera, wrestling, Arabic, social media and intellectual property theory, this makes it the right, though not always the most comfortable, place for me.
The discomfort I feel when I am the only Planned Parenthood volunteer blogging for the CMU Respect for Life Club, or the only coder in an anti-human trafficking organization, or the only intellectual property activist in the high-tech start-up has helped me to grow more than a hundred comfortable colleges could have.
CMU has taught me to build relationships and projects with people who are smarter than me, to never let initial ignorance stop me from digging for more information, and to see each person I meet as a vital part of the communal whole.
Mentoring has been my most valuable contribution to Carnegie Mellon, though it is my least showy. In every organization I’ve participated in, and many of my classes, I make time for younger students, to answer their questions about my major, or minor, or internship, or study-abroad experience.
I do this because, as a freshperson, I often felt lost and swamped and seized simple rather than true guides.
Mentoring is my systematic response to solving this problem–while as an INTJ seeing the world in systems and augmenting them is natural, it is also a life-goal for which Carnegie Mellon has uniquely prepared me.
At CMU, I have taught self-defense classes when I was frustrated by the number of muggings near campus, lobbied the administration to allow students to opt out of using Turnitin.com when they feel their intellectual property is being violated, and will be editing an anthology on what it means to be a great Tartan as a response to detrimental siloing on our campus.
And CMU has supported me.