By Brenna Mackay

Visit the Carleton Graduation Celebration 2020 website.


Hanna Stewart chose to study at Carleton for the people. From the moment she stepped onto campus for her first open house, she felt welcome.

“I felt like those trying to help me navigate my way on campus, find the open house, answer all the questions I had, generally took an interest in me and wanted me to be a part of the Ravens family,” she says.

Hanna Stewart

Hanna Stewart

Originally from Ottawa, Stewart was deciding between universities with her high school guidance counsellor when she received a phone call from her future undergraduate adviser that sold her on Carleton.

“He made me feel as though I would be a student, a friendly face in the fall, and not just a student number,” Stewart says. “That held true for both of my degrees at Carleton and I am happy to share that part of my story with others.”

Bringing Research to Life

Stewart completed her undergraduate degree in Canadian Studies in 2018 and continued her studies the following fall in the Master of Arts, Sociology program.

Her thesis, The identity formation of Chinese-Canadian adoptees, studied societal pressures and expectations adoptees face in understanding themselves. As a Chinese-Canadian adoptee herself, Stewart wanted to learn more about her identity and the experience of others in this shared community.

Her research explored the connections adoptees have to their home in Canada, what they left behind in their country of origin, and the racism and stereotypes they encountered over their lives.

“My overall experience in the program has been rewarding to say the least,” says Stewart. “I was able to improve my communication, interpersonal and research skills these last two years.”

Throughout the program, she created long-lasting connections with professors and classmates while developing a better understanding of what it means to be a Chinese-Canadian adoptee.

Connecting with the Carleton Community

In addition to her experience inside the classroom, Stewart was actively engaged in activities on campus. She was involved in departmental societies throughout her undergraduate and graduate degrees, and student clubs such as Best Buddies and the Terry Fox Club. Stewart also worked at the Undergraduate Recruitment Office as a campus tour guide, welcoming prospective students and guests to campus.

“To me, getting involved is important for networking and community development,” says Stewart.

Through her involvement, she was able to connect with the Carleton community and further enrich her degree.

“The value of student involvement to me meant I was contributing to a community that has given me so much,” she explains.

The Next Chapter

Stewart has a post-graduation bucket list which includes swimming in Greek waters and trying gelato in Italy. Career-wise, Stewart hopes to work with an organization that allows her to combine her passions for education, citizenship, identity and adoption.

“I’m driven by the need to help others in my community and hope to keep paying it forward as much as possible.”

Sociology Graduate Hanna Stewart

Hanna Stewart (Teah Lizee Photography)

Before starting the next chapter, Stewart says there is an extensive list of people she would like to thank for helping her along the way.

Prof. Peter Thompson was her first contact at Carleton. The undergraduate supervisor turned department chair has become a valuable contact who Stewart keeps in touch with regularly.

As Stewart reflects on her time at Carleton, she recalls the initial phone call she received from Thompson back in 2013. Stewart remembers being very nervous about starting university and asking, what she thought, were silly questions like: “Can I eat in class?”

Throughout their conversation, Thompson reassured her there are no silly questions and she would adjust to life at Carleton just fine.

“He was right,” she explains. It took some time to get used to the new routine, but looking back, she’s thankful she asked those questions. Prospective students have since asked her the same questions during campus tours.

“I can’t thank him enough for the continued support and encouragement throughout the six, going on seven, years of knowing him,” she shares.

Stewart says she’s also grateful for the patience and understanding of Prof. Alexis Shotwell, her graduate supervisor, as she navigated the ups and downs of graduate school.

She also credits her family and friends for pushing her to be the best version of herself.


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Tuesday, June 16, 2020 in , ,
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