November 2022: Kait Stewart, graduate student | Department of Geography and the Environment

November 2022: Kait Stewart, graduate student

The weather is changing, we have made it through midterms, and Thanksgiving break is only a few weeks away! Before you rush away for Thanksgiving break, please take a moment to read about this month's Student Spotlight, Kait Stewart! Kait is in her second year as a graduate student studying under Dr. Matt Fry in our department. Her research topic is, "How the characteristics of refugee resettlement cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex shape the settlement experiences of Burmese refugees." Kait is local to the DFW area, residing in Lewisville, which you will see below helped spark her interest in Geography.

In Kait's undergraduate years, she was always interested in how an individual's identity development is shaped by place. She was also interested in how one would study that topic. Originally from Lewisville, Kait lived in an area where a large group of Chin refugees from Myanmar were located, which spurred her to start working with this population. Early in her college career she documented aspects of their journey to the US from Myanmar. Unknowingly, Kait was already deeply involved in Geography through her interests and research. This helped pave the way for her to choose Geography as her major in graduate school.

There are lots of little things that made Kait interested in joining our program. She commented that, "there [was] something about the program that just [felt] nice". There were other aspects too, like being a smaller community, everyone having a varied interest in different subjects, interdisciplinarity, and a high volume of collaboration with research conducted from diverse perspectives. Additionally, she felt very supported in interactions, which was one of the best parts for her as a graduate student at UNT. The support and resources she had access to from the department and university, on top of having a tight-knit Geography graduate student cohort, added to her joy at UNT. Due to the different sources of funding available, she has been able to fully fund her research this summer. Kait also mentioned, because of the tight-knit group and friendships she has made, she has been able to progress through her work farther than she would have expected this past year.

One lesson that Kait has learned is that time is valuable. She noted, "it can be very easy to give away your time to everything, but narrowing down and focusing on your passions and what you need to do to accomplish your goals is what matters". Kait hopes to pursue her PhD after graduating with her MS degree. She plans to continue pursuing her passion working as an educator in post-secondary institutions.

Some fun facts about Kait: she loves to quilt and restore old furniture in her free time. She enjoys taking walks at South Lakes Park in Denton. She commented that it was a really nice place to take a hike, especially right at sunrise and sunset. She likes to go there often to get out and think about her research. She believes change in work environment is helpful when stressed or when having writer's block.

Kait makes a wonderful point! As the break nears, take that break, get outside, and enjoy the holidays.

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Student Spotlight

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