Getting to Know Gail DeShields

Gail DeShields is the Graduate Coordinator for Housing Services and Student Life and is responsible for building community and serving as a resource for all residential graduate students. Gail is also enrolled in the Student Affairs in Higher Education program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is going to graduate with her Master’s Degree in May of 2017. Gail completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Stockton University in New Jersey prior to joining the CMU community.

What are you looking forward to most in your upcoming work with our graduate community?

I’m looking forward to connecting with other graduate students and providing resources and support both at CMU and within the Pittsburgh community. I’m hoping to plan some social events both on and off campus, educational sessions to learn about the many resources on campus, and helping the on-campus graduate population gain a better sense of community.

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

I enjoy reading, sing, going to concerts and festivals, watching Netflix, and hosting game nights with friends. I’m very passionate about social justice initiatives and gender and sexuality education.

All-time favorite TV show:

Boy Meets World

What’s one thing on your bucket list?

I’ve always wanted to go to Italy and be a tourist, but specifically want to ride a gondola on a river in Italy.

If you could give one piece of advice to graduate students at CMU, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to get involved and make connections with people. Sometimes, graduate school can get lonely or stressful so it’s important to build a network of support around you.

Getting to Know Jordan Kunz

Jordan Kunz is the Housefellow for Shirley Apartments, a first-year apartment community in the Oakland area, and Fairfax Apartments, an upperclass community. He also sits on Provost Jahanian’s Task Force on the CMU Experience which is a group designed to make immediate and long-term changes to enhance the experience for students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Jordan completed his undergraduate degree at CMU in business with a minor in computer science. He is currently pursuing a master’s in information systems management through CMU’s  Heinz College, and in the future is looking to move into the field of technology consulting.

How did you come to join Carnegie Mellon?

I am actually a native to the Pittsburgh area, and growing up I knew what a great school Carnegie Mellon was. When I was accepted in 2011, I was really excited for the opportunity to go here, and I have been here ever since!

I’ve been involved in Student Life pretty much my entire time at CMU. I was a Resident Assistant twice, a Community Advisor my senior year of undergrad, and an active member of the Student Dormitory Council. As I was graduating from undergrad and getting ready to start my graduate work, it just so happened that Shirley Apartments was going to be transitioning to a first-year community. I was offered the chance to be Housefellow for that community, and that’s where I’ve stayed

What makes Shirley Apartments so awesome?

I think there are a lot of pretty great things about life in Shirley. One of my favorite things is just walking through the halls in the evening and smelling all of the food everyone is making. Every apartment in Shirley has a kitchen, and people definitely take advantage of that. We have multiple potluck events throughout the year because few things are more fun than sharing your favorite dishes with your friends.

I also think what’s great about Shirley is that it’s such a small community. It’s the only community on campus where you can learn everyone’s name in the first week without really trying. It so quickly becomes a tight-knit community where people feel really comfortable with one another, and that leads to really great adventures, discussions, and experiences.

What kinds of first-year programs take place in Shirley?

The most popular programs we have in Shirley are definitely the Thanksgiving potluck, Milkshakes in the Yard, and Shirnival. When everyone in the building has a kitchen, why not make an awesome Thanksgiving meal together as a house? We have the Thanksgiving staples, but we also have a lot of fun dishes that people want to share with their friends which makes for a really unique and delicious meal.

Shirley has a side yard creatively referred to as “The Yard.” As a celebration for the last day of classes, we all go out to The Yard and make milkshakes, hit a piñata, and play games. It’s a great way for everyone to have one last shared experience together before they leave for the summer.

Shirnival is an event run by Shirley’s House Council during Spring Carnival. The House Council hosts games, holds contests, and has fun prizes for people. It’s a really unique event because houses typically don’t have events during Carnival, but Shirley wanted to do its own thing and they had a really good time with it!

Share one of your most prized CMU memories.

My favorite day (or days depending on the weather) every year is Raceday for Sweepstakes. The buggy races are just such a cool experience, and my first Raceday is really special to me. The swarms of people, the jumbotrons, the excitement. It all just adds up to a really fun day for anyone involved, whether they are spectating or participating.

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

I am into sports, superheroes, and learning. I try to follow as many sports as I can, and have played nine different sports competitively in my life. I also spend a lot of time watching superhero TV shows and movies because they’re just a lot of fun. In terms of learning, I’m always finding new things I want to learn about. Currently I’m working toward being fluent in Spanish, learning how to do sports analytics, and learning how to cook.

All-time favorite book:

My favorite book is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I first read it in eighth grade and it’s been my favorite book ever since! It’s not a particularly long read so I reread it every once in a while.

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

My best piece of advice for first-year students is always this: you’re going to change in college, so accept that and make it change that you want to see in yourself. College is a chance to hit the restart button on how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you. Take advantage of that to become a person you are proud of.