BAUP Dec. 2015
What is your current job and how did your planning degree prepare you for it?
I am Executive Assistant to the Adjutant General of Alaska, BG Laurel J. Hummel. My job is to help her fulfill duties pertaining to various military issues, including those under Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management. Through this work, I build a breadth of situational awareness of how the State of Alaska is helping communities, especially those in the Bush, prepare for and respond to natural disasters. My background in planning often informs my understanding of such issues. In May, we visited Shishmaref to lead a forum for devising a storm response plan and eventual relocation plan for the community. The planning process, which included community discussions, navigation of land ownership rights, and use of GIS, were all in effect.
While in school, I committed several months to years worth of time to a variety positions, including those on the Student Sustainability Committee, the City of Chicago, Prairie Rivers Network, and Army Corps of Engineers. Every opportunity led to another, and helped me realize that professionally, I wanted to further my understanding of environment and politics. Hence, Alaska. And even though my goal to live in Alaska was distant in more ways than one, I can see now that all of my internship experiences, via acquired skills and connections to other professionals, actually led to my being here. It took a lot of discerning and an open mind to recognize just a fraction of that.
Why did you choose to study urban planning?
Urban planning covered most of the disciplines I was interested in, those namely being environmental planning, GIS, and community organizing.
What advice would you share with someone who is considering a career in urban planning?
View opportunities with a wide aperture, because there are so many paradigm-shift-inducing experiences that cannot be articulated in a curriculum or corporate flow chart.