Fellow Story: Cassandra Masters

“I love seeing how strongly Pittsburgh’s history still permeates the everyday lives of folks– not only for older residents, but for younger people trying to make an impact in their communities.”  -Cassandra Masters

Cassandra Masters comes to Pittsburgh by way of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. Cassandra received her degree in Political Science and History with a certificate in International Development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining PULSE, she was an intern with the Women in Leadership Program at the University of Illinois. She was also a Societal Team participant with the Honduras Water Project and a family assistant and tutor with RefugeeOne. In her free time, Cassandra enjoys traveling, yoga, hiking, playing cards, reading, and listening to podcasts.  She is a part of the East End cohort, and is serving at Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh.

Grace McHale: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Cassandra Masters: Definitely moving to a new city and having a new network of people and places to tap into. It makes me feel supported and full of energy. Not only am I connecting with PULSErs, but I’m connecting with the non-profit community at large and have met really phenomenal people through my nonprofit partner.

Grace: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Cassandra: I have become more intentional about ensuring my actions are sustainable and meaningful through my work with my nonprofit partner, PULSE, and my community at large. This year has allowed me to more intentionally engage with the complex intersections between housing, transit, social connection, and overall access to resources in communities. Advocating for greater justice and sustainability in our communities is certainly challenging, but diving into these complex topics has been super rewarding.  

Grace: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Cassandra: I’m learning more about navigating different perspectives, how to effectively communicate with others, and how to advocate for myself and my values in challenging situations. I am especially grateful for my house and cohort for this.

Grace: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Cassandra: Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh is a county-wide age-inclusion initiative that seeks to make our neighborhoods welcoming and accessible for people of all ages. We focus on the built environment (walkability, access to housing and transportation options, etc.) and the social environment (social connectedness, digital literacy, arts engagement, etc.)  I’ve gained immense insight into the issues older adults face in our communities and the efforts needed to make our neighborhoods more livable for everyone. The work inspires me every single day. Not only that, but the Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh network is full of all-around fantastic people who made Pittsburgh feel like home pretty quickly.

Grace: Describe a typical day at your nonprofit partnership.

Cassandra: No day is the same, which I love. Some of my main tasks include running social media (shameless plug: follow @AgeFriendlyPGH!), implementing different projects, planning for upcoming events, and tracking our progress. My supervisor and I also travel around the city and county to meet with community partners and elected officials.  

Grace: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Cassandra: I love seeing how strongly Pittsburgh’s history still permeates the everyday lives of folks– not only for older residents, but for younger people trying to make an impact in their communities. The history of the region means a lot to my family and me, and I’ve loved learning more about it through the eyes of Pittsburgh residents.

Grace: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Cassandra: Penne pasta with Heinz Ketchup. My house loves it.

Grace: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Cassandra: Developing as an individual, housemate, community member, nonprofit professional, and everything in between. Learning more about myself and the impact I can have when collaborating with others has been really empowering.


Story by PULSE Fellow Grace McHale.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation: