Kayla Stewart graduated from the MA in International Relations-Joint Global Journalism Program in Spring 2020 and is from Houston, Texas. For her undergraduate degree, she majored in Journalism and minored in African American Studies and Global International Studies at the University of Houston.
Where are you currently and what do you do there?
I am currently a Communications Coordinator at the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, and a freelance international relations, food, and travel reporter. At the Research Alliance, I contribute to the execution of the Research Alliance’s communication strategy through the website, social media, and publications. As a freelance journalist, I’ve contributed to several publications, including PassBlue, Latino USA, NYMag’s Bedford + Bowery, Heated by Mark Bittman, Proof from America’s Test Kitchen, Civil Eats and others.
How did the IR Program prepare you for what you're doing now?
The IR program has a critical academic foundation that’s informed my work at the Research Alliance, where I support communication efforts to disseminate research about NYC schools and communities. As a journalist, I’ve been able to focus on human rights in food in West and East Africa, and have been able to contribute written and audio pieces, and develop documentary series about a number of human rights and political issues.
What advice do you have for current students who may be looking for a career in your field?
Build relationships with your professors, and look for opportunities in and outside of NYU. There is so much available on campus, but you’re also in a remarkably global city. Don’t be afraid to ask someone you admire out for a coffee and chat (offer to pay for them, as they’re giving up their time!), and ask smart, well thought out questions about their career progression. Also, be cognizant of internships, including application deadlines, and other job or learning opportunities in the IR field. Jobs and internships can be great opportunities to learn and grow in the industry, and they look great on a post-graduate resume.
Why did you choose the IR program at NYU?
NYU offered the Global Journalism graduate program, the only graduate program with a focus on IR and journalism that allowed me to obtain two degrees for the cost of one. The travel opportunities in the program were especially important to me (I spent summer 2019 in Ghana developing my thesis), as were the diverse profiles of professors in the IR and journalism departments. I sensed that the staff at NYU truly cares about student progress and upward mobility, and it’s been true throughout my experience in the program.
Which was the class you most enjoyed? And the one in which you learned the most?
I thoroughly enjoyed speechwriting with Professor Daniel Benaim. A veteran speechwriter and talented professor, Professor Benaim worked with students to develop writing habits that have impacted my work as an international journalist and my work in research. I learned quite a bit about U.S. history, foreign affairs, and the art of persuasion, all of which made this my most enjoyable class, and the course in which I learned the most.
What advice would you give to future students of the program?
Take advantage of the opportunities at NYU. The university is not only internationally recognized, but it also fosters a community that supports international development and education. Find opportunities to study or work abroad, as they’re extremely unique opportunities to expand your work and academic experiences in new locations around the world. Also, when you have professors that make an impact on your life, make an effort to keep in touch with them beyond the classroom. Keep them in the know on work you’re doing or aspire to do, and don’t be afraid to ask if they have any colleagues in the field who might be helpful for professional ambitions.
What was your favorite place on campus? What did you like best about student life at NYU?
Indoors, my favorite place on campus is the 9th-floor lounge in the Kimmel Center. It’s a great place to grab lunch in a quiet area and/or study in another location other than the library. Most important, it overlooks Washington Square Park and 5th Avenue and quite honestly offers one of the best views of this iconic area. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Washington Square Park is my favorite outdoor location. While it’s technically an NYC landmark, to me, it marks the heart of NYU, and I adore the music, sounds, food, and unique people that make the park the icon that it is.
What was the best thing about living in NYC?
Living in New York City has been incredible for too many reasons to list, but I think the best thing is that living in NYC means you have access to so many worlds. The enclaves that exist—such as Chinatown, the incredible Black American and West African history and current nature of Harlem, the Jewish community in Borough Park, the Southeast Asian communities that influence Queens, and the numerous other worlds that exist here—make NYC not just a global city, but a unique place where extremely divergent cultures can find and build “home” in their own, personal way. Being able to live and learn from these communities has framed much of the work I’ve done during graduate school, and I’m certain will influence my professional career beyond graduation.