Women's Leadership profile: Amy Shields

Rho Lambda, a leadership and honor society for sorority women, features individuals in a Women’s Leadership Series based on their contributions to campus life and their achievements as role models in the Carnegie Mellon and greater Pittsburgh communities. Amy Shields is the organization’s first honoree this semester.

Amy Shields initially had no interest in joining a sorority. In fact she first thought Greek life was “dumb and lame.” But after attending one meeting, her perspective changed.

Not only is the junior social and decision science and international relations major now in a sorority — Alpha Chi Omega — but she’s also president of the Panhellenic Council, the governing body of all five of Carnegie Mellon’s sororities. And her leadership does not stop there. Shields’ passion for “making a difference” extends across the campus community.
“[My sorority] ... gave me a chance for leadership,” she said.

As a leader, Shields describes herself as straightforward and a problem-solver. “When I’m involved with something, I’m in it 100 percent. I do expect a lot from people I work with, but I try not to be hard-lined because life happens.”

In her freshman year, Shields had never imagined the path her life would follow once she joined a sorority. “I was the loneliest kid in the whole world and it made me go through recruitment, and I loved the women and they’ve become my best friends on campus. I can depend on my sisters for everything, and they’ve become my family away from home,” she said.

The sense of belonging was crucial to Shields, who grew up in a tight-knit family of five in a suburb of Washington, D.C. “I want to eventually move back to D.C. I’d be very sad if I weren’t near my family,” she said.

Moving back home is a very realistic plan for the political science major who found inspiration in living close to the country’s capital. Shields plans to work in a non-profit organization after college, though she’s still considering where she wants to channel her energy. She’s considering non-profit work in the government, the Peace Corps, and various think tanks, which she said are organizations that examine different issues and suggest solutions.

Last year, she got a taste of governmental life by working on Capitol Hill for lobbyist Amy Hammer. Specifically, she worked on environmental issues, but in the future she’d prefer to work on human rights, namely women’s and minorities’.

It is her need to “do something that will make a difference in the world” that has also driven her to become heavily involved in campus life.

“I don’t like to be bored ever. I did a lot of things in high school with music and theater, so I’ve always been a busy person,” she said. “I’d like to change things on the campus for the better.”

Although only a junior, she is well on her way to her goal. This past week, she was involved in sorority recruitment, in which her leadership skills were lauded by her fellow Panhellenic board members.

“She’s a thorough leader,” said Kristen Livesey, a senior in biology and public policy and management. “She’s friendly, talkative, and original. She’s encouraging and she gets things done.”

Hetal Choxi, a senior in social and decision sciences, also praised Shields’ leadership.

“She buckles down and takes care of everything,” Choxi said. “She’s good at setting agendas and making sure people meet goals.”

When it comes to setting agendas, Shields also serves the community. She has served as the gender issues intern with Student Development and is currently coordinating events for Gay Pride Month, which occurs in October on campus. She’s a member of Allies, the gay-lesbian-bisexual-trangender (GLBT) and straight alliance, and has served on the committee for the gender issues conference MOSAIC last year. In Alpha Chi Omega, she is the vice-president for fraternity relations and also the booth chair.

Shields’ passion for spreading awareness of gender issues is important for her, as she feels “people deserve equal rights, and GLBT [awareness] helps people gain those rights,” she said.

Among her contributions to the community, last year Shields worked on fundraising $10,000 on a project called Doctors Without Borders.

“In one word, she’s authoritative,” Choxi said.