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.

Getting to Know Michaela Page

Michaela Page is the Housefellow for Webster Hall and Shirley Apartments in Oakland. Additionally, as the Coordinator of Residential Education, she spearheads Y2@CMU, a program that supports sophomores and their second-year experience as Carnegie Mellon University students. She also works with transfer and global exchange students.

Michaela completed her undergraduate studies in psychology and theater at Smith College and earned her master’s degree in higher education administration from Boston University’s School of Education.

Let’s learn more about Michaela!

How did you come to join CMU?

After moving to Pittsburgh in 2011, I took a slight hiatus from student affairs. I served as an AmeriCorps Member and worked in the non-profit sector. They were enriching experiences and I fell in love with Pittsburgh because of those opportunities. Still, I missed working in student development tremendously. I saw the Carnegie Mellon housefellow position and knew I had to apply. A few months later, I was hired!

Why is the Webster community awesome?

Webster is a great place to live during that transitional time between a student’s first year and becoming an upperclassman or woman, when some students are seeking more independence. Sophomores to graduate students find their home at Webster, and I think they enjoy it for many reasons: the Oakland location, getting to cook their own meals, a great management team that is on top of maintenance concerns, the tasty food at Kevin’s Deli (you have to check out Kevin’s!), and a friendly, committed RA staff that is passionate about creating a sense of community with programming and events but without cramping each resident’s individual style. Webster residents enjoy the range of programs offered – progressive dinners, career-readiness workshops, meditation sessions, and trips off campus to check out the awesome city surrounding us.

Share one of your most prized CMU memories.

Being part of the human tunnel during PlayFair, otherwise known as “the biggest ice breaker ever,” during first-year orientation. It was astounding to watch as hundreds of first-year students scurried through the tunnel, as upper-class students cheered them on. They were totally unaware of the human chain whirlwind that was coming up next!

PlayFair during CMU Orientation 2014
PlayFair during CMU Orientation 2014

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

That dreaming big is a great way to live life, and home is wherever you want it to be.

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

I love to be active in any way through exercise and group endeavors, like road races. I also love to sing, dance, and act. Currently, I am a member of the Renaissance City Choir. I love to travel and learn about the cultures and histories of places. I also enjoy cooking, reading, watching movies, and snuggling up with my dog, Rufus, and my cat, Gandalf. I am passionate about many things, but giving back through service is super important to me. Whether it’s on a small or large scale, service teaches you a lot about yourself and others and keeps you continually evolving as a person.

All-time favorite book: Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi

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

Geoffrey Canada, the founder of Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ). He started a movement to reform public education by utilizing the community around him. HCZ has a very successful graduation rate from high school and college. There aren’t many cities that have been able to replicate a model like his, and I would love to hear his story and how he got started. I want to know the secrets to creating an equitable, enriching education experience for all children.

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?

Chicken Parmesan with lots of Parmesan sprinkled on it, fresh pasta, and a rich tomato sauce. Yum! Okay … now I am hungry!

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