Getting to Know Helen Wang

Helen Wang (pictured with her son) is the Housefellow for Morewood E-Tower, a first-year residence hall at Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to her role as Housefellow, Helen is the director of Residential Education and the college liaison for CMU’s interdisciplinary programs including the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), BXA Intercollege Degree Programs, and Science and Humanities Scholars (SHS). She’s also the advisor for the Charpie Scholars Program, a Carnegie Mellon scholarship made possible by the generous Charpie family and awarded to admitted students with an exemplary academic record and promise of leadership potential.

A proud Tartan, Helen completed her undergraduate studies in English and psychology here at Carnegie Mellon and earned her graduate degree in American studies with a focus on Asian American literature at the College of William and Mary.

How did you come to join CMU?

I was working on my dissertation in American Studies, very unhappily, in New York City. I wrote to a mentor at CMU, who told me about the housefellow role. My alma mater and a great job? I was sold! The rest is history. I packed up my stuff and moved back to Pittsburgh, and now this place is so much of what home looks like.

What makes the Morewood E-Tower community awesome?

The Pensive PineappleE-Tower is awesome because of the people. We have 40 people from all walks of life interacting on a single floor – it’s so dynamic because you get to know all 40 people really well. Then we work on “unstacking” E-Tower. This means that you will get to know folks on other floors, too.

We are a very reflective house with signature experiences, like our Pensive Pineapple publication, our gender-based programs, and faculty engagement series. But, most of all, we prioritize making meaningful 1:1 relationships in our community and not worrying about posturing. Pineapples (we call our residents “pineapples” because it is the logo of E-Tower) are who they say they are going to be and they stand in support of one another in the good times and the bad.

What kinds of special first-year programs take place in Morewood E-Tower?

Helen with her E-Tower student staff
Helen with her E-Tower student staff

We have events like Pensive Pineapple, BQ squared (where we bring faculty in for dinner), E-Tower commencement, Tower Talks (a first-year Ted Talks series), and Fridays @ 4 (our end-of-week happy hour). We also were the originators of The Hunt @ CMU. There are so many different programs that change year to year, but we pride ourselves on there being something to do in the house most, if not every day, of the week.

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

I have learned so much from students, every day and in so many different contexts, but what cuts across them all is that I’ve learned the joys of being “scrappy.” This is how I describe Carnegie Mellon and CMU students — we are scrappy and we want to do amazing things. If we can imagine or will it, we can make it happen. That makes this place a joy to be a part of every single day.

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

I am a certified yoga instructor and I love all forms of yoga. I love to cook, bake, read, and write. I also love my dog!

All-time favorite book.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Tell us at least one thing that’s on your bucket list.

To spend time in a natural foods-based culinary program and to write my book.

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?

Carve out time to reflect and make meaning of the incredible opportunities in your first year. Take a 12-unit course in you — which just means giving yourself space and time to think and breathe. That’s where the meaning is made. Being a CMU student isn’t about doing a million things. It’s about doing two or three things (academics included) really well and building your character from the moments that you intentionally take to reflect on them. You have time. You have space. You just need to insist on it.

Connect with Housing & Res Ed!

facebooktartan        tartaninsta        tartantwitter

Getting to Know David Chickering

David Chickering (pictured above with his daughter) is the Housefellow for Morewood E-Tower. In addition to his role as Housefellow, David is an Associate Director for Residential Education, the Student Affairs college liaison to the Schools of Art and Music, an instructor for the environmental course called Privilege, Responsibility, and Community, coordinator for RA (Resident Assistant) recruitment, selection, training, and assessment, and the liaison to the university’s neighbors on Beeler Street.

David earned his undergraduate degree in theatre and English and his master’s in higher education, both from the The University of Iowa.

A member of the Carnegie Mellon community for 14 years, David has lots of great stuff to share!

How did you come to join CMU?

I was looking for a selective school with creative students. I was also looking for a city with a National League baseball team, green spaces, good coffee, and character. I did not know much about Carnegie Mellon or Pittsburgh before I was asked to apply. I have fallen in love with both.

What are you looking forward to for the Morewood E-Tower community in the year ahead?

I took a year away from being active in a house orientation, so I am excited to help set the tone for an amazing year in E-tower throughout orientation. I am looking forward to watching a random group of students take ownership in creating a supportive community.

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

I learned from a student and his friends to wear two different styles of socks every day. There are so many reasons to do so. I highly recommend it.

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

I am pretty sure that I love my family. So, I do lots of family stuff – hiking, camping, biking, coaching kids sports, and carrying stuff. I like to eat and cook good vegetarian food. I am pretty proud of my Indian cooking skills. I collect and ride vintage scooters. I garden and drink copious amounts of good coffee.

What’s your all-time favorite book?

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Tell us at least one thing that’s on your bucket list.

Buckets. You can’t have a bucket list without buckets.

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?

Empathy is important. People are complex. Get to know people. You will learn a lot and things will make more sense, or less sense. Either way, you will be better for it.

Connect with Housing & Res Ed!

facebooktartan        tartaninsta        tartantwitter

Tried and True: Carnegie Mellon’s Very Own Pittsburgh Restauranteur

Mark Hastie is the owner and operator of three dining locations on Carnegie Mellon University’s campus – The Underground in Morewood Gardens, The Zebra Lounge in the College of Fine Arts, and SEIber Café in the Software Engineering Institute.

Additionally, Mark and Matt owned and operated one of the longest-running and award-winning restaurants in Pittsburgh from 1989 to 2013 – Gullify’s Restaurant in Squirrel Hill. Gullifty’s won the “Best Desserts in Pittsburgh” award for 30 years in a row, as well as “Best Late Night” place to eat, “Best Neighborhood Restaurant,” and “Best Sandwich Menu.”

Mark has been a part of the university community for 15 years. Let’s learn more about him!

Tell us about how you got started in the food industry.

In high school, I had a job busing tables at the William Penn Hotel and also at the Carlton Restaurant. In college, I worked at a pizza shop that was part of a restaurant group. I worked my way up through all the group locations and eventually bought out the owner of Gullifty’s with my brother.

What do you like most about Carnegie Mellon University?

I love that CMU is dedicated to the student experience in all ways – from empowering them to be involved in the life of the school, to making sure they have a safe and comfortable environment, to offering them a great dining experience.

How do you develop your menu(s)?

I’ll try something new and think, “wow, that’s something!” I’ll be traveling and see or smell something that I have to try.  I’ll see a new trend or ingredient and experiment with it.

What’s something special you’ve done at one of your locations that has really been a hit?

From time to time we get requests from the residents in Morewood for a theme night. One year we had a Pan-Asian night. The residents helped plan the menu, prepared and served the food, and worked the registers for the event. That was a big hit.

Why are you passionate about food?

Everything is enhanced by food. A good meal in any situation makes everyone feel better. If you think about it, almost any celebration or gathering you’ve ever been a part of centers around food.

Personally speaking, what’s your preference – cook in or dine out?

Cook in.

What is your favorite kind of meal?

The one someone else makes for me, since I’ve been in the restaurant business nearly my entire life. I also love the black box challenge – open the refrigerator door and create something from what’s on hand.

All-time favorite food:

Any kind of seafood.

Where have you traveled recently? Do you have any more trips planned?

We spent last year exploring America: Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, Phoenix, Key West, and Lake Erie. Next up is the Bahamas in June!

Mark cave diving in Florida.
Cave diving in Florida

Outside of food and work, what are some of your hobbies/interests?

I love to play tennis and golf and also enjoy sailing, wine making, traveling, and scuba diving.

What kinds of wine do you make? 

All hearty reds from California grapes. Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Allicante, Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Syrah, and Pinot Noir. I make it with two other guys and we all take it with us wherever we go so everyone gets a bottle or two for Christmas, birthdays, or casual dinners. Occasionally, I’ll do a small batch of a white or fruit wine.