CMU in Puerto Rico was born as an official student group of Carnegie Mellon University in May of 2018. Previously, it had been known as CMU Puerto Rico Spring Break Relief. The original group was the idea of Tiffany Taulton, a first-year Public Policy & Management graduate student at the Heinz College. Her father had been stationed in Puerto Rico when she was a child and she was eager to help the island after it was devastated by first Hurricane Irma and then Hurricane Maria just months into the start of the school year. With the help of two undergraduate student leaders, Caroline Morin, a senior studying Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, and Sterling Wells, a junior majoring in Decision Science--as well as the support of all their teachers, schools, and numerous online donors--the trio was able to create the first trip experience in just two months.

The 10-day Alternative Spring Break trip was specifically designed with public policy and engineering students in mind as those two groups would have significant opportunities in their future careers to help the island with its long-term physical recovery and economic transition. Trip activities fell into four categories--agroecology, solar power, community land trusts, and cooperatives--with the goal of better understanding community-driven sustainable recovery and climate resilience models. Unlike many other groups, however, CMU in Puerto Rico did not strive to create a new climate resiliency project in Puerto Rico. Instead, the group raised funds to support local groups already taking care of their communities but in need of more resources . 

CMU in Puerto Rico is playing the long AND the short game: we seek to raise money to help Puerto Rico now, while also sending as many students as possible to learn about Puerto Rico so that they may help the island in the future as professionals. Beyond this goal, we hope to help cities all over the country by sending them young professionals who have learned about community-lead climate resilience planning and disaster recovery because, sadly, we know that Puerto Rico will not be the only place affected by the stronger storms predicted for our future world.

Arriving in San Juan




Founder & President

Tiffany is finishing the second (and final) year of her master's degree program at the Heinz College of Information Systems, Public Policy & Management. She hopes to use her training and multilingual skills to find a position helping vulnerable communities become more climate resilient after graduation.


Vice President

Frank is a junior studying Mechanical Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy. Raised in Puerto Rico, he hopes to gain a new perspective on the island's infrastructure and policy while giving back. He hopes to use his education to return and make a difference.



Sterling is a senior in Decision Sciences. Although he won't be able to go on the trip again because he's graduating in December, he is still eager to help the group by helping to set up meetings and keep everyone up-to-date on activity plans.



Ariana is a junior studying Civil Engineering at the School of Engineering and Public Policy in the College of Engineering. She's looking forward to making her second trip to Puerto Rico with the group and will be working with Sterling to keep in touch with our island partners and create the schedule of activities and meetings.



Christina is a senior Electrical and Computer Engineering major at the College of Engineering. This will also be her second trip to the island. She believes strongly that technology combined with good policy can save lives and she's eager to learn more about the role that technology can play in Puerto Rico.



Sofia Zayas was born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico. She came to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to major in Biology at Carnegie Mellon University. Sofia joined CMU in Puerto Rico to make others aware of the island’s problems and inform them of how they can help.


VPFE5607 (3).JPEG
Caroline Morin.jpg
IMG_1033 (2).JPG


Founder and Trip Leader

 As a Navy brat, Tiffany spent her early school years living in Puerto Rico with her family. Learning Spanish put her on the path to becoming a polyglot and eventually working at the United Nations.  She was just starting graduate school when Hurricane Maria hit, but she knew she had to go back to the island and help. She founded the group as a way to give policy and engineering students a deep experience on the island that would make them fall in love with it the way she had--and hopefully keep coming back to help in years to come. 


Assistant Trip Leader

Caroline Morin is a senior studying Chemical and Biomedical Engineering.  After learning about the destruction in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria, and targeted relief efforts from other organizations at CMU, she was inspired to join Tiffany in developing a spring break trip focused on climate resilience planning.  She is particularly interested in how energy infrastructure should be adapted in preparation for climate change related events.



Sterling is a junior in Decision Sciences at the Dietrich School of Humanities with a love for computer science and volunteering. A board member of the Interfellowship Association (IFA), his faith has moved him to find a myriad of ways to serve the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. In particular, his experience as a member of Alpha Phi Omega has made him comfortable leading fundraising campaigns, and his computer skills are helping us connect with other organizations assisting Puerto Rico.

IMG_0007 (2).JPG
IMG_0155 (2).JPG
IMG_0062 (2).JPG


Member, Social Media Team

Laura is first-year graduate student at the Heinz College of Information Systems, Public Policy & Management. Originally from Mexico, Laura has a concentration in Environmental Policy and looks forward to enriching her understanding of sustainable disaster recovery as a participant in this trip. She will also help with any Spanish translation that is needed.


Member, Social Media Team

Laila is a Master's student of Entertainment Industry Management at Heinz College. With a strong family history of public service, she is curious to learn more about the situation in Puerto Rico, and how she can use the power of media storytelling to help.


Member, Social Media Team

Mandy hails from China and is completing her Master's degree this spring in Public Policy & Management at Heinz College. For her final systems project, she will help FEMA to improve its After-Action Reporting (AAR) process. This trip will give her an opportunity to do data collection on the ground in Puerto Rico to better understand local after disaster construction operations.

Anasco Corcovada (2).jpg
IMG_0008 (2).JPG
IMG_0179 (2).JPG



Meghan is finishing her Master's of Public Polity & Management at Heinz College and is interested in learning more about the U.S.'s relationship with its territories. A native of Wisconsin, she also has a strong foundation in farming and is eager to help farmers in Puerto Rico recover. Farming on a warm and sunny island will also be a new experience that she is looking forward to!



Having suffered through several major natural disasters while growing up as a child in India, and then forced to stand outside in the dark, cold, rain as a teenager in New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy, Krishna feels the pain of those living in Puerto Rico all these months without power like her own. Now a junior in Mechanical Engineering at the School of Engineering and Public Policy, she's eager to learn how community grid solar power programs can be expanded in Puerto Rico.



Luisa is a graduate exchange student from Italy at the Heinz College of Information Systems, Public Policy & Management. She has an interest in international sustainable development and is excited to be a part of this team to help Puerto Rico.

IMG_9572 (2).JPG



Montana is an avid traveler and student representative of the Homewood Children's Village. The organization focuses on helping to make Homewood a healthier community through tutoring services for children, college and career prep for high school students, and employment assistance for adults. It also encourages healthy habits and conducts air quality monitoring. Montana is curious to see how similar community organizations in Puerto Rico operate, and as a Computer Science major at the Community College of Allegheny County, he hopes to learn how communities function after a disaster when the internet is down.


Member, Social Media Team

Originally from France, Claire is an MBA student at the Tepper School of Business and is also earning her Master of Science degree in Public Policy and Management at Heinz College. A board member of Tepper's Net Impact club, her focus is on Sustainable Operations and Supply Chain and she believes strongly in the importance of using her business skills to foster a positive impact, both social and environmental, in the world. This trip to Puerto Rico will give her a chance to do just that.


Member, Social Media Team

Christina is a junior studying Computer and Electrical Engineering at the College of Engineering. After graduation, Christina sees herself working on projects to find and actively modify emergency routes before and during a disaster, using technology to monitor infrastructure damage, or creating algorithms to predict coastal flooding as global ocean levels rise. With this in mind, she believes traveling to Puerto Rico at this point in the recovery process will help her to gain insight into where the problems in damage prediction and supply distribution, etc. occurred.

IMG_0130 (2).JPG
IMG_0116 (2).JPG



As a civil engineering student, Ariana has learned about construction, soil, building, and cost effective/
sustainable design. She has also learned about water systems, and renewable energy, particularly including solar as part of her curriculum in environmental engineering. With an interest in sustainable design and green buildings, Ariana is excited to see how collaboration under tough circumstances plays out to create a sustainable recovery for Puerto Rico.


Member, Social Media Team

Born and raised in mainland China, Peijin is now pursuing her Master’s degree in Public Policy & Management (Washington DC track) at Heinz College.  She is passionate about volunteering and traveling. This trip to Puerto Rico is a great chance for her to volunteer and practice the knowledge she's gained from her Public Policy and Economics classes.


©2018 by CMU in Puerto Rico.