Meet the newest members of the Transgender Media Lab Tech Team: Contributor Experience Designer Kit Chokly & Undergraduate Research Assistant Maddie Murakami

Photos of Maddie and Kit over a pink and orange gradient background.

Let’s start with the basics. What is your name, and what are your pronouns? What is your role on the Transgender Media Portal, and what has brought you here? And what is your go-to snack?

KIT: My name is Kit Chokly, my pronouns are they/them/theirs, and I’m a second-year MA student in Communication at Carleton University. My role on the Transgender Media Portal is as a Research Assistant and Contributor Experience Designer, which blends my backgrounds in graphic design, communication and media studies, and transgender studies. I helped work on the TMP 1.0, and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to continue this work on 2.0! And fuelling my work is an endless amount of sour jujubes.

MADDIE: My name is Maddie Murakami, and I use he/him pronouns. I’m a third-year student at Carleton and second-year student in the Computer Science program. My previous program was Interactive Multimedia Design, so I consider myself something along the lines of a design-oriented programmer. I’m a Research Assistant, and I’m part of the tech team on the Transgender Media Portal. I’m new, and I’m excited to be working on something that will allow me to put my skills into a project centered around transgender experiences, as there are unfortunately few opportunities for this, generally speaking. My go-to snack is cereal, and I have a preference for very “boring” ones like Shreddies.

How do you spend your time off (do you have any cool hobbies)?

KIT: Now that we can leave the house again, I’ve started rock climbing. I’m not very good (and am more afraid of heights than I thought I was!), but it’s a tonne of fun and definitely helps me decompress after a long day at my desk.

MADDIE: I’m an artist. I’ve been drawing for 4 or 5 years now, and I draw digitally. I also play video games, and I’m the proud owner of three fish tanks. My long-time interest lies in history, specifically the Age of Sail and life aboard sailing ships.

What have you done that you are most proud of?

KIT: This is such a good question! I think one of the things I’m most proud of having done is returning to school as an adult. It took me three tries, but I finally got my Bachelor’s degree last year and am now really enjoying grad school. I’m also incredibly proud of my two siblings – my sister moved to Australia and started her career there as a carpenter from scratch, and my brother volunteers as a white hat hacker to find web vulnerabilities for charitable organizations. I’m very proud of them.

MADDIE: I’m proud of how far I’ve come since just three or four years ago. I was at my lowest point but I was able to power through it, and now I’m in my third year of university with my grades going up. I’m happy with how much I’ve learned in that time, both in programming and computer science, and in art, and being able to be someone who appreciates and practices both science and art is something I’m proud of, too.

How has COVID-19 changed your plans for the next year?

KIT: Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but I’m applying for PhD programs this winter. Hopefully COVID won’t get in the way of in-person classes, although I hope that international events and conferences will continue to be accessible online.

MADDIE: I’m lucky to say not much has changed for me. However, COVID and switching to online classes was what made me realize I wasn’t satisfied or happy with my previous degree program and led to me switching. So in a way, that’s changed my future because I now see myself working in a different field (computer programming rather than graphic design) than I did before.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

KIT: Hopefully defending my dissertation ;)

MADDIE: Genuinely, I can’t wait to graduate. I think a lot about the future, the people I want to spend my time with, and the people I want to pay back, as I get older, in return for all of the support they’ve given me through my schooling.