Building a more inclusive future, worldwide
An avid traveler, organizer, and educator, senior Kathleen Schwind helps others develop skills in negotiation and leadership.
"That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come to MIT: because I heard that it was a place filled with people who love thinking creatively and are not afraid of tackling huge problems."
— Kathleen Schwind, MIT class of 2019
Sports were the most common pastimes in the small beachside community of Arroyo Grande, California, where Kathleen Schwind grew up. She herself settled on track and field and volleyball. But her sister, who is also her best friend, has a physical disability. That spurred Kathleen, an MIT senior majoring in urban studies and planning, to come up with a new kind of competition.
“I thought, what is there for people with brilliant minds who don’t compete in sports?” she says. “They should be able to compete somehow and be able to have that amazing moment of winning something or the thrill of belonging to a team.”
That desire to create more inclusive activities and learning environments has guided much of Kathleen’s life from a young age. In the past few years, she’s started sharing her vision across the globe — through MIT, she’s been to 22 countries.
International relations and conflicts are also significant areas of interest for Schwind. As part of a five-year program in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), she will receive a master’s degree in city planning along with her bachelor’s degree next spring, and her thesis focuses on the role of water in the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Through MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI), Kathleen spent a summer in Singapore doing research and collaborating with Singaporean students as part of an international leadership program. She also traveled to El Salvador her sophomore year to teach students how to fly, build, and repair drones for urban planning; spent a winter in Spain and another in England studying art and literature; and again through MISTI will spend this January leading a teaching team in Israel.