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 Angie Lusk

Angie Lusk 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 College Liaison for graduate programs in the School of Computer Science. Additionally, Angie works across the entire Carnegie Mellon community to enhance the university’s culture of wellness, providing support and guidance for all kinds of wellness initiatives across campus. She teaches thrive@CMU, a six-week mini-course designed to help first-year students learn about the personal, academic and co-curricular opportunities and challenges they may encounter during their time at the university. Her wellness efforts also extend into maintaining the university’s Mindfulness Room, a space in West Wing that is open 24 hours a day to all members of the CMU community to simply rest, breathe, and relax.

Angie completed her undergraduate studies in English and psychology at Washington and Jefferson College and earned her master’s in higher education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

In the photograph above, Angie (seated far left) poses with members of her BaMily.

Read on to learn more about Angie … and her BaMily!

How did you come to join CMU?

I have always lived in Pittsburgh, and while I am drawn to small, intimate communities, the incredible sense of diversity and innovation at Carnegie Mellon has always fascinated me. When I served as the Director of Student Activities at Chatham University, I enjoyed visiting and collaborating with CMU. I attended the MOSAIC conferences, CMU’s annual gender conference, long before Carnegie Mellon entered my mind as a career possibility. Now, working at CMU and leading a small community like Boss and McGill create the perfect marriage of my love for tight-knit communities where people really get to know one another and exploring all that the larger CMU community has to offer.

Why are the Boss and McGill communities awesome?

Boss and McGill are incredibly unique. Boss is a special interest house that students apply to live in because they are passionate about global citizenship, service, leadership, and/or wellness. While students from around the world choose to live in Boss, there is always a shared sense of camaraderie right from the start because of these shared values. Boss has an active House Council and there is an air of maturity found in Boss that is eager to invest in the larger CMU community.

McGill is the only all-women, mixed-class community at CMU. It engenders a relaxed, “walk right in and make yourself at home” kind of vibe; it’s easy to let your guard down. Women supporting and empowering other women: there’s just something about an all-women’s community that is nurturing unlike any other environment I’ve experienced. While both communities have a unique identity, we try to pull them together and affectionately call our communities the “BaMily.” “Peace.Love.BaM.” – that’s our motto.

Share one of your most prized CMU memories.

2013 IMPAQT Team
The 2013 IMPAQT Team

It’s impossible to pick just one, but traveling to Doha, Qatar, with the 2013 IMPAQT (Initiating Meaningful Pittsburgh and Qatar Ties) team was such an eye-opening experience for me. Benchmarking CMU to other institutions is difficult, so to see our Doha campus in action was incredibly rewarding and valuable to me. The opportunity to better understand Qatari culture and CMUQ, Carnegie Mellon University’s Qatar campus, is something I will always cherish. I highly encourage students to consider a semester abroad, whether at CMUQ or elsewhere. It’s the one regret I have about my own undergraduate career. In some ways, CMU has allowed me to fulfill that dream as an adviser, both to IMPAQT and as part of the Orphanage Outreach 2012 team when we traveled to the Dominican Republic.

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

I learn something new about the world and myself every single day I work at CMU. I am inspired by people’s ability to dream big and actually bring those dreams to fruition. From the Mindfulness Room to thrive@CMU, if you have the ambition and the drive, you can sincerely make a difference at Carnegie Mellon and beyond.

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

Everything! My passions are a never-ending bucket list for exploration. Anything to do with my family, nature, wellness, animals, children, design, music, food, or travel, I’m in! I suppose I would rather be a novice at many things than an expert in any one thing. This year, I’m trying new adventures in paddle-boarding and low-country cooking.

All-time favorite book?

Picking a favorite book is like picking a favorite band. It really depends on my mood and the time of my life when it resonated most. Today, I would chose I Am Malala. Children can absolutely shape history, maybe even more so than adults. We should give them more voice and opportunity to do so.

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

I believe I would pick someone that intimidates me, perhaps someone I don’t currently understand. I’m inspired by so many but I think there is more learning to be drawn from the people to whom I cannot relate. Perhaps the president of the National Riffle Association (NRA), Jim Porter. I’d love to hear his opinion regarding how to bridge the gap between Second Amendment freedoms and better gun control.

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?

I say eat what you love. Life is too short to be fixated on calories. I just balance it out with a long hike in the woods or chasing after my 7-year old son, Owen. First up on my list would be a PCI (Pretty Cool Italian Club) sandwich from Fat Head’s Saloon on Carson Street.

Join Angie at the Open House for McGill House, CMU’s only all-women’s living community, tonight, Monday, February 9, at 5 pm!