Upon her first two visits to Carnegie Mellon, Anna Min-Young Cederquist was not impressed by the Pittsburgh weather. In true Pittsburgh fashion, it rained both times, and her mind wandered to the sunny University of Southern California. But being a Pennsylvania native, her parents wanted her to stay in state. Eventually, she chose Carnegie Mellon over Penn State, and despite the lack of sunshine, Anna couldn’t be happier about it.
With both parents in science fields, Anna originally came into Carnegie Mellon as a biological sciences major. She struggled with her decision, constantly questioning her choice of major and potential future career all through her freshman and sophomore years. When she slept through an organic chemistry exam during her sophomore year, Anna felt that her subconscious was sending her a message — it was time to find a new major. She looked into several alternatives, but she realized that with most of her electives in decision science, she might belong there. And so junior year, Anna officially switched majors and fell in love with her new concentration.
Outside of the classroom, Anna loves to ski. She started skiing when she was very young, noting that her parents couldn’t even find equipment small enough for her tiny body. Her dad brought her on the slope anyway, holding a baby Anna so that her skis were barely even touching the snow. After that, she never stopped — despite how uncomfortable ski boots can be, she can’t get enough of the feeling of flying down a mountain at top speed. As she got older, Anna started competitively ski racing, an activity she wanted to continue into college. She actually had no idea that Carnegie Mellon had a ski and snowboard team until she visited the Activities Fair freshman year. She had already considered joining, but her mind was made up when she saw a cute boy recruiting new competitors to the team. Four years later, Anna is the president of ski team.
Aside from skiing, Anna has pursued her interests in fashion by becoming a part of Lunar Gala, Carnegie Mellon’s student-run fashion show. Anna cites her interest in fashion as a gradual process that began with her ballet lessons. She was enamored with the intricacies of the costumes and began sketching her own tutu designs. Eventually, the tutus evolved into dresses and then general clothing designs. Anna has always been interested in developing her own, unique sense of personal style, and her real interest in fashion designers didn’t begin until right before college. And as fate would have it, a freshman Anna happened upon a poster advertising design portfolio submissions for LG. Partnering with her roommate Amanda Yuan, the duo sketched designs on the back of Amanda’s psychology notes. Though they were initially rejected, it only spurred them to work harder for next year.
The following year, Amanda and Anna created a portfolio of sketches that was accepted by the LG board. But it was only after they were selected as designers that the two realized the enormity of the task at hand: They had to actually create their ten-piece line on their own. Make no mistake, learning how to actually create the things she drew on paper was definitely a daunting task for Anna. But it’s the end product that makes it all worth it — the physical realization of what was once only an abstract idea.
Now in her third year with LG, Anna has also taken on the role of treasurer, and remains a designer. As treasurer, she manages all of LG’s funds, approving any purchases that the producers or offices want to make. She also works with other funding committees on campus to get special allocations for any additional projects that the organization wants to do. Even in her third year of designing, Anna still finds there are both challenges and rewards to the job. One of the things she still finds difficult is fitting the outfits to her models — she notes that her sewing skills aren’t the best, so it can be stressful to tailor ten pieces in just a few weeks. Despite the stress, Anna says there’s nothing more gratifying that seeing the models walk down the runway sporting her finished pieces. After spending countless hours searching for inspiration and then bringing those ideas to life, the feeling is indescribable.
Working with Lunar Gala has also produced Anna’s proudest accomplishment so far — after her second year of designing, her and her design partner Amanda were contacted by RAW Artists who were interested in showing their work at a Pittsburgh showcase. Though she was already proud of herself for making her outfits for the show, there was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment in being told their work was good enough to be a part of a national artist collective.
Now that she’s in her senior year at Carnegie Mellon, Anna can reflect back on her time here. Even though she was initially reluctant to attend, she now knows that geeks, nerds, and dorks can be some of the most amazing people you can meet. She’s forged great friendships that began as long ago as the second day of orientation week, ones that she hopes will continue long after graduation sends everyone their separate ways. Though she’s not sure what the future will hold for her, Anna thinks she’ll come back to graduate school within a few years. In the mean time, she’ll figure something out — there’s still a whole semester ahead of her.