[TepperCares] National Volunteer Month

April is the National Volunteer Month and as the new TepperCares president I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight a few of my classmates that make Tepper more than just a business school.

Representing 32 countries, my MBA classmates bring so much diversity to our community. Being informed about world issues, especially as business leaders, is important, but nothing compares to living, seeing, or knowing someone personally who has lived though some of these issues. This exchange is not only making us more empathetic, it also facilitates new ideas and actions.

Cara Giannandrea

Please meet Cara. Cara is on the board of TepperCares representing the part-time student group.

As a part-time student, Cara will be attending classes over the summer. Additionally, she will be working on a business plan for a social marketing concept she hopes to start testing in the fall.

Favorite volunteer organization: Pittsburgh Animal Aviation Rescue team (PAART). “PAART is a great organization; they rescue animals in distress from all over the country, and bring them to safer, less crowded, no-kill shelters. I have been a volunteer for PAART for close to 2 years.”

Favorite volunteer experience: “I adopted my best friend from a rescue mission I went on in Kentucky. His name is Martin <3”

Future goals: “I want to do my part to make the world a better place. There are so many in need (humans and animals) and I truly believe every little bit of volunteering helps. I hope to start a for-profit business, while simultaneously supporting a social cause (think of TOMS Shoes).”

Ever Isaac Hernandez

Ever HernandezBefore coming to Tepper, Ever has been around the world for his job as an engineer. In high school and college he received mentorship and guidance from his community leaders and is now paying it forward through many volunteering efforts. This summer he will be interning with Thermo Fisher Scientific in Boston.

Favorite volunteer organization: Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE); Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “My favorite organizations are those that promote representation parity in the professional workforce such as having more Women, Latinos, Blacks, and Native Americans in STEM and the finance services industry.”  

Favorite volunteer experience: “I always feel joy and a deep sense of purpose when students and/or parents let me know that attending one of the “A Day in the Life of an Engineer” or other events where they interacted with our STEM professionals was a turning point in deciding to pursue college and STEM.”

Why do you volunteer? “[…] I like the feeling of doing something of value for humanity. I also feel more connected to the community where I serve when I give my time or money in philanthropic endeavors. Lastly, all the good things that have happened in my life seem to be connected to the relationships developed through or as a consequence of my community service involvements.”

Vision for the future: “I hope to live on the day when there is no longer a need for affinity groups that promote representation parity or a need to provide a safe space for people to be themselves.”

Veronica Wei

As an international student from China, Veronica has contributed tremendously to the Pittsburgh community through many organizations she has been involved with. This summer Veronica is heading to Autodesk to work in treasury.

Favorite volunteer organization: Beijing: CSAPA (China Small Animal Protection Association). “I love animals, especially dogs. It makes me happy if I can do anything to make their life better. Helping stray dogs find a loving home is the greatest happiness.”

Favorite volunteer experience: “When I became a volunteer of CSAPA, I got a chance to visit the stray animals’ protection center. It’s my first time seeing more than 500 stray dogs. They were either abused or had disabilities before they came to the protection center. I was touched by the staff who work in the center. They take care of all these stray animals every day with a low salary. They are doing much more than our volunteers. Helping stray dogs find a home became my dream since then.”

“My most recent favorite volunteer story is my first time going to Family House to do some cleaning work. The founder told us the story of Family House and how they are running it to provide an affordable and comfortable place for the patients come to Pittsburgh for medical treatment. I like Family House and I hope in Beijing, China, one day we can have a such nice place too, so people who come to Beijing for medical treatment can have a home to stay.”

Why TepperCares? “[TepperCares] gives me many opportunities to connect with the Pittsburgh local community. I get to know more about Pittsburgh and the people here from [TepperCares] events.”

Trey Thompson

Trey ThompsonTrey is the outgoing TepperCares president. Under his leadership TepperCares engagement grew and the diversity of organizations we partner with has expanded. Trey has paved the path for us to follow! After Tepper Trey is heading to M&T Bank as Executive Associate for HR Strategy & Ops in Buffalo, NY.

Favorite volunteer organization: YMCA Homewood-Brushton. “I help low-income residents prepare income tax returns during tax season (late January – mid April). It’s rewarding for me because I can see the impact of my work right away.” 

“[…] I’ve gained a much clearer understanding for the lives of people throughout the city who I otherwise never would have interacted with. Going through a person’s taxes is a distinctly personal activity that winds up including stories of new jobs, unemployment, childcare, divorce, entrepreneurship, family deaths, and even kids coming with their parents to file their first returns. The overall experience is definitely one of the top things I’ll miss about Pittsburgh.”

Favorite volunteer experience: Carnegie Library’s Reading Buddies program pairs volunteers with elementary-age students who come for homework help or after school reading time. One 4thgrade student, Eddie, had come for help with math. It was clear that he had the skills he needed but was lacking confidence. We worked together for 20 minutes and he finished the assignment. By the end, I wasn’t even actually helping, just cheering him on when he got to the right answer or showed good persistence. When he finished, I reminded him that he had done the whole assignment practically by himself and he absolutely beamed with pride.”

Why do you volunteer? “How we define our communities matters. My goal as a business leader is to be able to adopt as broad a definition of community as possible, both within my company and beyond it. And if I define my community to include parts of Pittsburgh (or Buffalo, or any other place) that includes people who make less money than me, look different from me, and/or have fewer opportunities than I do, then I have no less responsibility to them than I have toward the members of a team I’m working on at my job. From this perspective, volunteering just makes sense. It also builds my understanding of potential customers, supports networking throughout a company, and brings me joy.”

What is your Vision for the Tepper Community? “One of the biggest surprises since I’ve attended Tepper has been students’ fierce devotion to supporting each other. My vision for the Tepper community is that this rabid dedication to supporting the members of our business school community be applied more broadly in support of people who don’t have an MBA or even a college degree. While in business school, I’ve gained access to a variety of skills, networks, and companies that set me up for positions of future power. I honestly believe that there many life circumstances that could have occurred which would have prevented me from pursuing my goals and building the professional resources I now have available to me. From that perspective, basic fairness dictates that I support those around me whose lives I have the power to benefit, especially those with more limited access to power.”


2019-2020 TepperCares Board is excited for another year in partnership with Pittsburgh communities and we are looking forward to the new ideas the MBA class of 2021 will bring!

Kartik Joshi
Cara Giannandrea
Iryna Marchenko
David Sun
Mike Marrkand

Iryna Marchenko | MBA 2020
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