Deisi Cuate (she/her)
PhD Candidate in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese
Deisi Cuate is a PhD candidate in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Her research investigates literary representations of Latinx New York and New Jersey from the 1990s. She is particularly interested in how Latinx women writers have reexamined the relationship between identity and geography to problematize preconceptions about NYC and its environs. Deisi was awarded the 2022–23 interdisciplinary graduate assistantship in Latinx Studies.
What have been some of the most memorable twists and turns of your career?
One of the most memorable twists and turns of my career was completely switching my dissertation topic from researching the effects of violence (i.e., narcoviolence) on Mexico's literary production post-boom to looking at how Latinx women writers reconceptualize representations of urban space. The switch was not linear by any means, but the process really pushed me to write about topics I did not think I would get a chance to write about while at Northwestern.
Tell us what inspired your research and/or work.
My research has been inspired by my own upbringing living in New York City. I've always been drawn to topics of identity, a community of belonging, and literature. Thus, my own work now features these elements that are personal to me.
I decided to attend Northwestern because of the faculty, staff, and students when I visited during accepted students’ week. I felt heard and seen, and that the university had many funding opportunities with which to conduct research. After visiting other universities, I realized that not all schools had this for their students. It was a no-brainer!
How do you unwind after a long day?
I really enjoy exercising, like playing sports and lifting weights, to release stress or simply take my mind off things. However, on days when I am physically tired, I like to cuddle with my 2-year-old dog while watching a documentary or comedic show. Additionally, I enjoy calling my long-distance friends and catching up!
What books are on your bedside table?
The books that are on my bedside table are bell hooks’ All About Love and Jennette McCurdy’s I'm Glad My Mom Died. They rotate every few months, but for now, these two books are giving me a lot to think about. They are pushing me to reflect on my own personal ideals and to grow as an individual.
What advice would you give your younger self or someone considering a similar path?
The advice I would give my younger self is to find people whom I admire, respect, and connect with on a personal level earlier on and ask them to be a mentor. I would tell my younger self not to be afraid to ask for help for fear that people will think I am not "smart" or "capable." It is silly to think that, but I find that many graduate students get into their heads about asking for help because they are afraid of sounding unintelligent.
What are you most proud of in your career to date?
I am most proud of creating a public humanities event entitled "Mexican Voices in NY: A Community Networking Event" in April 2022. I applied and was accepted into the Alice Kaplan for Public Humanities Graduate Workshop, where they helped fund a portion of the event. Through this opportunity, I got to work with Mexican creatives in NYC to create a space for anyone who is part of the Mexican community there to talk about their research and showcase their art (e.g., photography, poetry, music, etc.).
Published: January 3, 2023
If you know a graduate student, postdoctoral trainee, graduate faculty member, staff member, or a member of our TGS alumni population who would make a great candidate for our TGS Spotlight Series, please complete this brief TGS Spotlight Series Nomination Form.