Living & Learning at CMU: Catherine’s Experience

Marketing assistant for Carnegie Mellon Student Affairs Operations, Catherine Kildunne is a sophomore linguistics major. She’s involved in Greek life as a member of Tri Delta, is part of Scotch’n’Soda Theatre, and writes for The Cut, Carnegie Mellon’s music magazine. Above, she is pictured (second from the left) with members of CMU’s Summer Pre-College staff during the summer of 2014.

You lived in Stever House as a freshman. What did you love about your Stever experience?

When I joined Stever freshman year, I lived on the third floor as part of themed housing for the Science and Humanities Scholars (SHS) program. We also lived with people from the Humanities Scholars Program (HSP) and BXA Intercollege Degree Program. I loved how tight-knit we all became being a part of these academic programs together, and I also enjoyed the healthy dose of 3ver (Stever + floor 3 = 3ver) pride.

Stever is so conducive to everyone hanging around in the common areas. In fact, some of the most fun came from getting to know people I would never have spent that much time with otherwise.

(Also … air conditioning. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to weather, so air conditioning was key!)

What makes living in CMU Greek housing so awesome?

Fall 2014 sophomoresLiving in my Tri Delta sorority house this year is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. My experience in Greek life has been overwhelmingly positive, so I jumped on the opportunity to live in the house. The most important part for me is definitely the people who have made it so fun. If you ever have the opportunity to live in a house with 28 of your friends, take it!

Also, I can’t forget to mention the fact that the commute to campus consists of walking across the street. I actually didn’t think it would be possible to get closer to campus than my freshman dorm! I was happily wrong about that. The location of my Greek house is something I am endlessly thankful for when it’s freezing or raining (which is, unfortunately, the majority of the academic year).

Favorite place to eat on campus?

It’s definitely The Underground. I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything from there that wasn’t grilled cheese and French fries. There’s many more options there, of course, but … if I could only eat one meal for the rest of my life, it would definitely be grilled cheese.

Share one of your most prized CMU memories.

Probably Carnival 2015. It’s the only time when everyone puts being busy on hold for a second just to relax and hang out with friends, which is something I think is vastly under-prioritized in general.

What’s an important life lesson you have learned in your time here?

I realized the best way to express gratitude for all the opportunities I’ve had is to make the most of my experiences. You have to decide for yourself what you’re trying to get out of university, because it’s practice for real life and you should definitely be deciding for yourself what you’re trying to get out of life.

What’s your all-time favorite book?

This is a hard one, as I love to read … probably something by Ernest Hemingway or Kurt Vonnegut.

What’s something you want to do before you graduate from Carnegie Mellon?

I want to watch the sunrise from the top of a building. I’ve never seen a sunrise before and I think it would be beautiful.

Getting to Know Thomas Rainey

Thomas Rainey (pictured above holding baby Oliver, fellow Housefellow Helen Wang’s son) is the Housefellow for Mudge House, a mansion that was donated to the University and converted into a residence hall, located on the corner of Morewood Avenue and Fifth Avenue. In addition to his role as Housefellow, he also serves as the Student Life liaison to Housing Services and the faculty advisor for SUMMIT, a three-day program directly preceding the spring semester that features courses, seminars, and workshops on topics selected by students. “We’ve had courses on baking, balloon animal making, Bhangra, glass blowing, ice skating, photography, pizza tossing, sign language, fire arm safety, archery, pottery, and a lot of other topics,” says Thomas. “Students get to explore things they are interested in or passionate about that they don’t always have time for during the regular academic year.”

In addition, Thomas is a member of the Division of Student Affairs funding committee, and he works with Housefellow Bryan Koval on the selection, training, and development of resident assistants (RAs).

Thomas completed both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, in psychology and students affairs in higher education, respectively.

How did you come to join CMU?

I first visited Carnegie Mellon with members of my graduate program, and I truly fell in love with the energy of campus. Later, I did an internship with M. Shernell Smith, now a fellow housefellow, in the Multicultural Initiatives office. During this time, I met so many extraordinary students and was incredibly excited when a housefellow position became available. I applied and was fortunate enough to be selected. I enjoy my work here every day.

What is an important life lesson you have learned from a student or students? 

Embrace your passions. Maybe that means coming off as nerdy or awkward, but that is the true beauty of Carnegie Mellon. It’s the acceptance and celebration of what makes you uniquely you and the sharing of that with others that really allows you to embrace who you are and what you love.

Outside of work, what are your hobbies/interests? What are you passionate about?

I love to read Japanese manga (comics) and I love to watch football and basketball. I enjoy lifting weights and am trying to get into running more. I also enjoy watching documentaries and reading books and articles of all genres. I enjoy any form of music that tells a great story. Most importantly, I am an avid chicken wing enthusiast. If you want to know the best place to get wings in Pittsburgh, let me know.

All-time favorite book: The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Tell us at least one thing that’s on your bucket list: Skydiving!

If you could give first-year students one single piece of advice as they start their journey here at Carnegie Mellon, what would it be?

I would encourage them to be open to new experiences and to embrace the best versions of themselves. This university has so many amazing things to offer, so during your time here take advantage of as much as you can but also pace yourself and enjoy the amazing ride.