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Katie Muirhead

Celebrating the class of 2018

Meet Katie Muirhead, graduating with a Master of Arts in peace and conflict studies

June 5, 2018 — 

In celebration of the University of Manitoba’s Spring Convocation 2018, UM Today is featuring some of the outstanding students we are celebrating this week.

Katie Muirhead, a Nahlah Ayed Prize winner, is receiving a Master of Arts degree in peace and conflict studies. After visiting Uganda in 2006, Katie co-founded a non-profit organization that works with communities in rural Uganda to find long-term solutions to issues that the community faces. She is a global thinker looking to make a change in the world in any way that she can, whether it be on the micro- or macro-level.

What was your inspiration for choosing this path?
My interest in global affairs, peace and conflict came as a surprise to me. In my final year of high school my world issues teacher (Dr. Lloyd Kornelsen, former char/associate chair of the joint masters program with the University of Winnipeg) showed a documentary about an infectious disease outbreak in Niger. The solution to preventing that particular disease was as simple as using mouthwash once weekly. Hearing how there was such a simple solution to a massive issue really moved me. I started a petition, writing major mouth wash companies to see if they would donate their products. It didn’t happen, but it sparked a desire to find practical solutions to complex problems, wherever and however I could. I realized that if I had the education to back up this approach, I would be able to access complex situations and work with communities to determine the best way through.

What was your greatest obstacle in your post-secondary journey?
The greatest obstacle happened in my last year of university. Part way through my graduate degree my life took a very major turn on a personal level. I had been a D-student in high school and was terrified that all the work I’d done in university to get good grades would go to waste. I was able to get through it by being honest with faculty about what was happening and finding a solid group of students in the peace and conflict studies program. We all looked out for each other. Even when we each faced personal struggles, the classroom was an opportunity to focus on studies and encourage each other.

What is the most interesting thing that happened to you at the U of M?
It was pretty great to have seen multiple speakers throughout my university career. Stephen Lewis, Ishmael Beah, Oscar Arias. My professors are all experts in their field too– how incredible to learn about peace from world-renowned peace educators!

What’s next?
I was so fortunate to get an internship at Immigration Partnership Winnipeg which turned into a full-time job. I hope to do hands-on work with refugee claimants in Manitoba, and would like to work in refugee and internally displaced persons’ camps overseas– in programs that address the unique challenges associated with gender in camps.

Don’t forget to check our student accounts on Instagram and Facebook to learn more about some of the students graduating this week. You can also join the ‘Convocation conversation’ on social media by following #umanitoba2018.

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