Writer and artist Kitty Cheung graduates with Undergraduate Dean’s Medal

June 04, 2024
Kitty Cheung photographed by Josh Rasalan during her exchange in Sweden.

Writer and artist Kitty Cheung is graduating at the June 2024 convocation ceremony with a degree in Interactive Arts & Technology and a minor in World Literature. She will be presented with the SFU Undergraduate Dean’s Medal, an award that recognizes students in each faculty whose cumulative grade point average places them in the top five percent of their graduating class.

When Kitty began her studies at SFU, she explored various majors looking for the right fit before discovering SIAT.

“What drew me to [SIAT] is that it’s a fascinating combination of technology and art where I can gain technological skills to serve my creative projects,” says Kitty.

During her time at SIAT, Kitty took part in a wide range of activities and opportunities including undertaking three co-op terms in graphic design and digital marketing, presenting papers and projects at both the FCAT Undergraduate and Graduate Conference and World Literature Student Conference, and taking part in several extracurricular clubs including the SFU Shockwave dragon boat team, French Conversation Club, and Tiny Design Club.

Kitty also took part in an exchange semester at Malmö University in Sweden, an experience that went on to be a highlight of her undergraduate studies.

At Malmö University, Kitty took courses in storytelling while spending her weekends travelling across Europe and immersing herself in a new culture.

While it was initially challenging being in an unfamiliar country, the experience was overwhelmingly positive for Kitty, who credits the experience with improving her cross-cultural communication skills.

Kitty Cheung exploring the snowy tundra of Swedish Lapland while on exchange.

“My self-confidence grew after this trip because I knew I was capable of navigating foreign places on my own,” says Kitty. “I also made life-long friends from around the world and I am excited to visit their home countries during my future travels.”

At SIAT, Kitty’s favourite course was a directed studies course that she completed under the mentorship of university lecturer Chantal Gibson.

Kitty, who grew up in Vancouver’s Chinatown, wrote a suite of poems for the course that explore her feelings of loss, longing for cultural connection, search for belonging, and childhood memories of a less-gentrified Chinatown.

“This course was a fantastic way to incorporate my personal interests into my academic journey,” shared Kitty. “I wrote my own syllabus, read poetry books by Asian-Canadian writers, and went on field trips to Chinatown and the City of Vancouver Archives to learn about Chinese-Canadian history.”

Another project that stands out to Kitty from her coursework at SIAT is the video poem that she and her classmates made for IAT 344 Moving Images with professor Kate Hennessy.

In collaboration with Vancouver Poet Laureate Fiona Tinwei Lam, the students created a video based on the poem “Ad Hominem” by Chantal Gibson, a poem that critiques Simon Fraser’s colonial legacy.

"Ad Hominem" video poem by Kitty Cheung, Brent Waldbillig, Rania Abdulaziz, and Patricia Sugiarta based on a poem by Chantal Gibson

“I enjoyed the filmmaking process,” says Kitty.  “My team brainstormed our concept, developed a storyboard, wrote a shot list, filmed footage, edited the video, added animations, and designed the sound.”

Following graduation, Kitty plans to travel around Asia, visit family, and connect with her heritage. She also plans to expand her directed studies poems into a full-length collection, as well as write a short story collection.

When asked about her advice to current SIAT students Kitty recommends that students enrich their studies with extracurriculars.

“Participating in clubs, hackathons, and design jams are great ways to make friends and learn new skills,” she says.

Kitty also highly recommends doing co-op terms and studying abroad and, most importantly, Kitty says to take care of your health and set work-life boundaries.

Kitty will be graduating and receiving the Dean’s Undergraduate Medal at the FCAT convocation ceremony taking place on June 14th.

See more projects by Kitty Cheung and teammates: