ASU College of Integrative Sciences and Arts communication graduate Kaitlyn Begay

Communication graduate imagines future connecting urban communities, tribal reservations

By

Maureen Roen

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.

Being a person who contributes to positive change in the world is important to ASU graduate Kaitlyn Begay.

“I chose ASU because the community of students do an outstanding job of making their voices matter,” Begay said. “During my time here at ASU, I was able to interact with and meet individuals with hopeful futures to make positive change for the campus or even for the world. You don’t know who you will meet here on campus! There are many great minds in one place; it even inspires you. 

“My oldest sister also set the bar high for ASU and the great education it provides,” she added. “She is doing what she enjoys today thanks to the ASU community/university.

“I see myself creating bond-ship and cooperativeness between metropolitan cites or towns and tribal reservations,” said Begay, whose hometown is Gilbert, Arizona, and who is also a member of the Navajo Nation.

With that goal in mind, she decided that a communication major in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts was a good fit and completed a minor in media analysis as well. 

Begay said her participation in ASU American Indian-associated organizations and events stand out as highlights of her undergraduate journey, especially her work in the pre-college INSPIRE program.

“I was a mentor to high school students in the week-long summer camp INSPIRE, where a group of others and I were able to do workshops and activities with students,” she said.

“This experience was unforgettable yet rewarding. I met many prestigious students who have bright futures in mind,” said Begay, who during her time at ASU held the Navajo Nation Scholarship and the Chief Manuelito Scholarship, awarded to Navajo high school seniors for high academic achievement.   

In the classroom, she credits communication instructor Steven Garry for teaching her an important lesson.  

“Professor Garry really changed my mindset on looking at communication,” she said. “Though my class consisted of only four others, he made an impact on our ways of presenting, learning and communicating. He taught us that getting the core information behind individuals' opinions and observations can be a tough task, but taking the time to do that goes a long way. In short, we have to experience the things we often do not want to do in order to get great results.”

Read more from Kaitlyn Begay about her ASU experience in the Q&A below:

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

Answer: Something that changed my perspective was, surprisingly, the ASU 101 course. Though it’s a university requirement, I got myself to engage more in self-care and patience. This was important at that moment, especially when I was taking 19 credit-hours of classes and maintaining a part-time job at the same time. The weekly journaling is what really got me to release my personal experiences and reserved feelings. As cliché as it may sound, it changed me for the better.

Q: Did you do an internship while at ASU?

A: Yes, I participated in a semester-long internship with the Women’s Coalition on campus. The women I met in the organization are so well-spoken and devoted to advocating for women’s rights and empowerment here at ASU. The internship taught me how to stay on task and up to date on women’s issues and news on campus. I am so grateful for this opportunity provided by the e-board and the many individuals who I got the chance to hear speak.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Do not ease up or give into a negative action, like failing a test, stress, a bad day, etc. It is an obstacle that moves you toward greater goals. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?  

A: My favorite spot on campus would have to be either Noble Library or the outdoor patio on top of the Student Services building on the Tempe campus. I went to Noble Library several times and found myself easily focused on school work. I love the quiet environment and (of course) the Starbucks that's accessible on the first level. However, if it were between Noble or Student Services building, I’d pick the Student Services building. I say this because it is probably one of the least crowded locations to be in and being outdoors makes it even better. This was my go-to location when I had a break in between classes.

Q; What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am going to be honest and say I am in no rush at all to make major plans or to be top dog — just yet — at any organization or company. At the moment, I like the job I currently have and if there is a great opportunity that comes, I’ll take it. For now, post-grad life will be taken slowly, at a pace where I know I am doing myself good and taking my time to experience job growth and knowledge. However, my long-term plans are to, hopefully, start an organization back on reservations that provide multiple services — such as therapy, group classes, women’s empowerment — for individuals. Another goal would have to be working with my hometown to advocate for a better future and quality of life for people.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: One problem I would tackle would have to be poverty. I have read articles and watched videos and documentaries on the rise of poverty levels in other countries and even our own. One of the hardest things to see is individuals struggling financially in order to keep a roof over their head or food on the table.

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