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Student story

Kaitlyn Stringer

20 July 2023

"I hope to gradually increase my level of influence and the scale of my impact..."


Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Media & Communication

Master of Urban Resilience and Renewal

Policy Advisor, Placemaking & Urban Development, Te Manatū Waka | Ministry of Transport

Committee Member, Te Waka Rangatahi | Young Transport Professionals, Intelligent Transport Systems New Zealand


What kind of work do you do with the Ministry of Transport?

My job is to advise the New Zealand Government on how transport, urban development, and placemaking can enable well-functioning, low-carbon, highly liveable urban areas that support and improve people’s wellbeing.

This involves collecting and analysing information to formulate policy, strategy, and business cases, stakeholder engagement, preparing written reports, advice, and correspondence, and evaluating the transport system to identify areas for improvement. 

What’s it like being a part of transportation policy change?

It’s a very motivating and rewarding space to work in, as transport enables (or disables) a wide range of outcomes and has an enormous impact on our quality of life. Front of mind is the critical role that transport must play in meeting Aotearoa’s international climate change commitments.  At the same time, transport has an important role to play in improving outcomes for Māori, supporting urban growth, improving public health and equity, and boosting the economy. Meeting this challenge is complex and I’m constantly learning and growing, both as a policy advisor and as a person. 

What motivated you to study a Bachelor of Arts? 

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study when I left high school, so I was really attracted to the flexibility of a Bachelor of Arts. I was able to dabble in a variety of subjects before deciding to major in Geography and Media & Communication.

Why did you decide to go onto the Master of Urban Resilience and Renewal?

My undergraduate degree ignited my interest in the many social and environmental challenges we are faced with. I chose to pursue a MURR as it had a strong focus on the urban renewal of Ōtautahi Christchurch – a city that faced many of these challenges as it recovered from the 2010/11 earthquakes. This provided the perfect case study to research and reimagine how a city could be designed to achieve better social and environmental outcomes. I was also really drawn to the community engagement aspect of the MURR, and the requirement to undertake research that would be of value to that community. 

How has your study prepared you for what you are doing now?

Studying a mixture of arts and sciences at UC enhanced my understanding of the built and natural environment, people, society, and politics. This equipped me with a much more compassionate and considered lens with which I view the world.

This has helped in my role as a public servant and policy advisor, as part of my job is to carefully consider the impact that policy decisions will have on the environment and different groups of people. Postgraduate study also prepared me with valuable research skills and work experience. 

How did you enjoy being at UC?

I really enjoyed the ‘campus feel’ of UC, the UC Club scene, and the diversity of degrees and subjects available to students. This combination and concentration of activities made for a really rich university experience.

Playing basketball for the University of Canterbury Basketball Club was also a highlight. I made some lifelong friends and represented UC at the National Tertiary Championship for Basketball and National Tertiary Championship for 3 on 3 Basketball – two awesome tournaments. I also had access to the UC Sport gym and strength and conditioning coaches on campus, which helped me to balance University and sport. 

I was also very fortunate to do an overseas study exchange in Aarhus, Denmark. The opportunity to travel Europe and experience different cultures was invaluable and remains one of my most treasured life experiences.

You’ve certainly accomplished a lot from uni! What plans have you got for your career success?

I don’t really have a plan! However, my guiding aspiration has always been to make a positive difference to the health and wellbeing of people and our planet. As I progress in my career, I hope to gradually increase my level of influence and the scale of my impact. 

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