Getting to Know Michelle Mirabella

Michelle Mirabella is the Housefellow for Boss House and McGill House, two residence halls located on “the Hill” area of Carnegie Mellon’s campus. She also serves as the Coordinator of Community Standards and the Integrity-Process Advisor for the university’s Disciplinary Committee. A Carnegie Mellon alumna, Michelle graduated in 2010 with an undergraduate degree in professional writing and a music minor. She earned her master’s in higher education administration and student affairs from New York University.

She’s excited to back at her alma mater working within a community that helped shape her as the person she is today. Let’s learn more about Michelle!

How did you come to join CMU?

I applied to Carnegie Mellon for my undergraduate and was accepted in spring of 2006. I graduated four years later and then worked as the Acting Housefellow for Boss and McGill for a year after graduation. After five years working at other institutions – both domestically and abroad – I’m excited to be back!

What have you learned about the Boss and McGill communities so far?

McGill and Boss complement one another in forming the BaMily. Both houses are intimate in size and engender a sense of family. McGill House is an all-women’s mixed class residence and Boss House is a themed residence focusing on global living. As a cohesive BaMily community, we can delve deeply into topics germane to our house identities, like intersectional feminism and intercultural competency.

What makes you most excited about being at CMU?

The students. Students at Carnegie Mellon are uniquely passionate and pointedly interdisciplinary in their approach to challenges.

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

The beauty of intentional gratitude; I have seen this exemplified by RAs and CAs throughout my time as both a student and professional at Carnegie Mellon. This concept goes further than supporting one another, than appreciating one another. It is genuine gratitude for someone that allows you to support and appreciate them in return. This strikes a special place in my heart.

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

Language and language learning, reading up on current events/feminist theory/social justice. These are my main hobbies and passions. I speak Spanish as my second language and dabble in Portuguese and Italian. I have also taught English as a foreign language. I am fascinated by the language learning process and how language shapes our experiences as we move through the world.

All-time favorite book.

I don’t do favorites unless you ask me my favorite number. Context is relevant for me. One book I believe is important is Feminism Is for Everybody by bell hooks. I highly recommend it.

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Perhaps in this moment, I would choose the very author of the book I previously mentioned: bell hooks. Her work focuses on the intersection of race, capitalism, and gender.

You’re stranded on a desert island – what three things would you love to have with you?

A water desalinator, a huge box of flares, a journal/pen combo to document.

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Getting to Know Lenny Chan

Lenny S. Chan is the Housefellow for Doherty Apartments and an Associate Director for Residential Education. He also serves as one of the College Liaisons for the College of Engineering.

Lenny earned his bachelor’s in psychology and master’s in college student personnel, both from Slippery Rock University.

How did you come to join CMU?

After earning my master’s degree while working full time, I was looking forward to a new adventure. I began my career at Carnegie Mellon working with Greek Life, specifically with the fraternities and special events (Greek Sing and Greek Council). After three years, I transitioned into a housefellow role in the Oakland community. For seven years, I was the Housefellow for Fairfax Apartments as well as other housing communities in Oakland. I have also been Housefellow for Morewood Gardens and worked with the student conduct process for many years. This is my first year working with Doherty Apartments.

What are you looking forward to for the Doherty community in the year ahead?

I am looking forward to spending time with and learning more about the residents of Doherty. The relationships I get to have with students is one of the best parts of being a Housefellow. Each year is different and I am excited about the opportunities the Doherty community will offer.

Share one of your most prized CMU memories.

This is challenging since I have so many. I would have to say every commencement day. There is something so special about being on campus that day. Regardless of the weather or anything else that is going on in life, commencement makes you feel good about Carnegie Mellon and the work that is done by students, staff, and faculty throughout the year. It’s great to see students and their families so happy and excited.

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

Be passionate about something. Whether it is a professional or personal interest, find at least one thing and go all in.

Lenny and Jennifer's rescue pups, Finn and Riley, looking totally adorbs.
Lenny and Jennifer’s rescue pups, Finn and Riley, looking totally adorbs.

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

I enjoy reading nonfiction and learning about local history. I look for ways to engage in the Pittsburgh community. Pittsburgh is a great city and has so much to offer, and I try to take advantage of those things as much as possible. My wife, Jennifer, and I enjoy eating at local restaurants, supporting local businesses, and attending events in the Cultural District. We also have two rescue dogs, Finn and Riley, who are a big part of our family.

All-time favorite book: When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Always a tough question since there are so many choices. I would love to have dinner with John F. Kennedy. It would be great to talk about his life, what he could have accomplished, and what he thinks about the state of things today.

You get to eat a meal where fat, calories, sodium, and cholesterol get completely wiped off the books. What would be your food of choice for this very special (and sadly impossible) meal?

Pizza, all of the pizza.

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