Michael Kiel grew up near Houston, before attending Vassar College in upstate New York. There, he double-majored in Geography and German, where he researched urban protest movements in Berlin. He then worked as an immigration paralegal, as a Fulbright teaching assistant in Austria, and for the Oliver Scholars Program in New York City. In 2016, he taught English for a summer in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, which was meaningful, eye-opening, and humbling. At UT Austin, he studies Russian and international development in post-communist states as a dual-degree master student at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. He plans to work in economic and political development in Eurasia after graduating. He remains passionate about public transportation, biking, and art in Austin.