Rachel Holladay (CS 2017), Ananya Kumar (CS 2017) and Eric Zhu (CS 2018) were a few of the earliest recipients of the Mark Stehlik SCS Alumni Undergraduate Impact Scholarship. The award — now in its fourth year — recognizes undergraduate students for their commitment and dedication to the field of computer science both in and beyond the classroom.
While receiving the scholarship was an incredible milestone for these three alumni, their pursuits to advance their interests in computer science didn't stop at CMU. Well after their time in SCS, they're still making groundbreaking strides in research, industry and academia.
Holladay started her CMU journey in 2013. Along with researching human-robot interaction and motion planning in the Personal Robotics Lab, she also dedicated her time to SCS student organizations, from mentoring an all-girls, high school FIRST Robotics team, the Girls of Steel, to being an active member in SCS4All, Women @ SCS and SCS Day.
A week before her final exams her senior year, Holladay remembers being called into an urgent meeting. Initially thinking she was in trouble, she learned that three of her faculty mentors had nominated her for the Stehlik Scholarship. "To find out that the faculty you know and work with would put you up for [the scholarship] was very humbling," Holladay said. "Several of those faculty went on to graciously write me letters of recommendation for graduate school or graduate fellowships."
Now in the second year of her Ph.D. in computer science at MIT, Holladay is researching the intersection of robotic manipulation and motion planning. She primarily works on developing algorithms that enable robots to perform dexterous manipulation tasks. She also served as the co-president of the Graduate Women in Course 6 (GW6), a student group that focuses on the personal and professional development of graduate women in the electrical engineering and computer science program at MIT.