Welcome to the Pre-Arrival Mentor home page!

Our Pre-Arrival Mentors are currently enrolled graduate students at Pitt who have volunteered their time to help new students learn more about Pitt and Pittsburgh. Our Mentors are thrilled to share their knowledge with incoming students: where to live, how to use public transportation, what types of students’ resources are available, and a variety of other topics. Each Mentor’s academic interest, country of origin, photo, and contact information is listed below.

Note: If you have an immigration related question to ask, please contact oisnew@pitt.edu.

Harman Ghuman

India, Bioengineering, PhD

Hello! My name is Harman and I am a PhD student in Bioengineering at Pitt. I moved to Pittsburgh in 2013 after finishing my undergrad in Arizona. I love trying new restaurants, exploring Oakland, and I have a dog named Henny. Feel free to ask me anything. H2P!!

Languages: English, Punjabi, Hindi


Tamala Gondwe

Zambia, Public Health – Epidemiology, PhD

Hi! My name is Tamala Gondwe. I’m a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. My family is from Zambia, but I lived in different African countries. I grew up in Burundi and Kenya and attended secondary school in Swaziland before moving to the US for university. I love traveling and learning about different cultures. This is my first year in Pittsburgh, so far it’s been an enjoyable experience!

Languages: English, Chinyanja, French


Sylvia Grove

USA, French and Italian, PhD

Hi! My name is Sylvia Grove and I am a graduate student in the Department of French and Italian. Originally from Pennsylvania, I have traveled and lived abroad as much as possible, including France, the Netherlands, Trinidad, Chile, and Alaska. I am fluent in French and a beginner in German.
I enjoy dance, food, languages, and writing about cultures.

Languages: English, French, beginner German


Eun Ji (Riley) Jun

Korea, Occupational Therapy, Master’s

Hello! My name is EunJi Jun, feel free to call me Riley (I go by Riley at Pitt). I went to Pitt undergrad and am currently continuing my education as a grad student in Occupational Therapy program. The city has grown in me and it absolutely feels like my second home now. I enjoy running and painting when I have free time.

Languages: Korean, English

Eunji3691@gmail.com or euj4@pitt.edu

Tom Charly Kattakayam

India, Computer Networks and Telecommunications, Master’s

Welcome to Pittsburgh! My name is Tom Charly and I am a graduate student in the School of Information Science Mastering in Computer Networks and Telecom. I also serve as the Graduate Student Assistant at iSchool assisting admission work and also interacting with prospective students. I am also involved with ANKUR, the Indian Graduate Student Association: http://www.pitt.edu/~sorc/pittankur/. Back in India, I am from Kerala. In my spare time I enjoy photography, cooking, hiking and exploring new places.

I moved to Pittsburgh last year and it has been an amazing experience here. It’s truly my pleasure to talk and help with prospective students. The Pre-Arrival Mentor program will definitely help you in preparing your new life in Pittsburgh.

Languages: English, Hindi, Malayalam

tomcharlyk@gmail.com or tck19@pitt.edu

Tao Long

China, Pharmaceutical Sciences, PhD

My name is Tao Long. I am a graduate student from Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, majoring in Pharmaceutical Sciences. I love science as well as arts.
Also, I am a big fan of travelling, photography and tennis! Can’t wait to meet all of you this summer and hail to Pitt!

Languages: Chinese, English


(Seyed)Salim Malakouti

Iran, Computer Science, PhD

Greetings, I’m Salim Malakouti a second year PhD student in Computer Science. I’ve been in Pitt for about two years, but I’ve come to realize if you know the university and the city well you can actually enjoy your time and work here. I’d be happy to help you to get the hang of things, procedure and all you need to do to arrive here.

Languages: Farsi, English

Salim.malakouti@gmail.com or salimm@cs.pitt.edu

Magda Gabriela Sava

Romania, Decision Sciences, PhD

Hi everybody! I am Gabriela Sava, originally from Romania and currently a PhD student in Decision Sciences at the Katz Graduate School of Business. I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for the last four years, and I really enjoy the diversity of the region. In my free time I love traveling around the world and gathering souvenirs from these places.

Languages: Romanian, English, French, Italian and Spanish – basic


Juan Fernando Velasquez

Colombia, Musicology, PhD

Greetings! My name is Juan Velasquez. I am a Colombian Grad student at the Music Department. I have lived in Pittsburgh for almost more than two years, which has been a great experience. For this reason, I want to share with new students the information about cultural and recreational opportunities that offer the city and the University. I am a Spanish native speaker.

Languages: English, Spanish

juv10@pitt.edu | fufervelasquez@gmail.com

Jaesok Yu Korea, Bioengineering, PhD

Welcome to Pittsburgh! My name is Jaesok Yu and I am a graduate student in the Department of Bioengineering. I arrived here in the United States in August 2012, so I understand that you may have questions about moving here. It’s truly my pleasure to talk with you. The Pre-Arrival Mentor program should be helpful for preparing your new life in Pittsburgh.

Also, we have a group on Facebook to support 2015 Korean PITT incoming students supported by Korean Graduate Student Association. We not only provide various useful information in Korean to settle you down but also plan to have an off-line meeting in South Korea.

Please join the group on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/2015PittKorean/.

Languages: English, Korean

jay49@pitt.edu | lustair@gmail.com

Duncan Yung
China, Computer Science, PhD

Hello! My name is Duncan (blue polo shirt) and I am a PhD student in Computer Science at Pitt. Recently, I am working on data management and crowdsourcing research. I moved to Pittsburgh in 2012 after finishing my MPhil in Hong Kong. I love sports (workout, basketball, dinghy sailing etc.), traveling, and trying anything new. Feel free to ask me anything.

Languages: English, Cantonese, Mandarin


Rana Zakerzadeh

Iran, Computational Modeling & Simulation, PhD

Hi! My name is Rana and I am a PhD candidate in Mechanical engineering, CMS program at Pitt. I am from Tehran, Iran and I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for the last three years. In my free time, I enjoy traveling around with my husband. Also I love food and cooking! Feel free to contact me if you have any question!

Languages: Persian, English