Spotlight on Rupak Shrestha

  • Rupak ShresthaGraduate student in Geography
  • Focus on human geography and development in migrant workers
  • From Nepal
  • Conducted research in Nepal on migrant brick factory workers in the summer of 2014

Why Miami

“I got accepted into a few schools, but the main factor was because of the professors involved here and the research, and also the geography department has this 1:1 ratio of students and faculty. I think that’s one of my biggest reasons to come to Miami, because of that ratio and how involved faculty are in academia and elsewhere.”

 “Coming from undergrad to grad school is a completely different platform, where you’re expected to learn more, do more, think more. And the classes I’ve taken at Miami, the programs and seminars I’ve taken at Miami, the professors I’ve talked to, and also the students in my same core—they have made my experience worthwhile.”

 Best Miami Experiences

“[My best experiences here] goes to classroom atmosphere, because most of the classes we have—it’s usually graduate and undergraduate mixed classes—but I’ve had a few…seminar style classes where you get to engage with the professors and other students and see what the ideas are about.”

 There’s a lot [of impactful people at Miami]. Marcia England, she’s our graduate director. Dr. Stanley Toops was my thesis advisor who’s helped a lot in this process…There’s some more names—I could probably name the whole department. Dr. Bruce D’Arcus, he’s cool, I’m taking his class right now, “Public Space,” which is a pretty awesome class which I think gives a bit more, a bigger and more critical perspective on how we look at space.”

 “I was able to do field study, primary field study, which was great. I think that’s the best part—being able to incorporate the field and talk to the people that I’m really writing about and talking about rather than just reading papers, I’m talking to them directly. I think the ability to do that and the encouragement that the department provides to do that is really important and is key for future students as well.”

Miami and the Liberal Arts

“I think liberal arts is advantageous because you get to focus not only on your specific field but you get to know what people are doing and studying and what other fields study. Most of liberal arts, you could be looking at—let’s say, even in my research I’m looking at brick factory migrant workers in Nepal—but most of the researchers I’ve been citing and I’ve been reading and all the theories are from all over—anthropology, sociology, and everywhere, including geography, of course. I think liberal arts education is important so you can tie in all the concepts and theories from all these different places into one rather than being focused on just one.”

 “Currently [I’m taking] Geography of Public Space, and there’s a class – it’s by Dr. Ian Yeboah—and we looked at organization, poverty, and development in the global South. So we looked at issues of that, and I also got to rethink a lot about what I know, because growing up in a city in the global South, you see things and perceive things differently, and you come here and study a completely different approach, but I think that class helped me understand the problems more in an academic way.”

Researching Migrant Brick Factory Workers in Nepal

“I went to Nepal last summer after defending my proposal and I worked with brick factory migrant workers in Nepal, and that was a big research opportunity that the department funded more than partially, almost fully. I was able to learn everything through the course of the semesters, read all the literature about it, and then go into the field.”

 “This is a longer process because while I’m still writing my thesis—I’ll probably be done by May—I’m planning on disseminating information. I plan to publish my thesis and also coming up with a summary of my findings and providing it to the NGOs that work with the brick factory migrant workers more directly. I think providing that summary to the brick factory migrant workers and being in contact with them and seeing what the issues are in how they evolved constantly is what I’ve been doing recently. Doing the research has also shaped my future research interest in migration development.”

Advice to Students

“Going out of your comfort zone would be the biggest advice, and then getting to know the locality, which also comes into play as the culture, the society, the political economy of the whole place, getting to know the place is key in research.”

 “Miami is a very resourceful university, and it’s surprising how many students don’t use all the resources that Miami has. I would say explore all the resources that Miami has, either in academia or it can be counseling academia, recreation-wise. Exploring all the resources you have in these four years, or two years if you’re a graduate student, would be really fruitful. And I can’t emphasize more on how good the faculty at Miami is.”