What is your current job and how did your planning degree prepare you for it?
I am a Deputy Planner in the Community Development Department for the Village of Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, a growing community along Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee. My planning degree from UIUC empowered me with a strong set of technical and leadership skills, and knowledge of the latest planning trends that provide a fresh perspective in my community. Some of my responsibilities include meeting with commercial and residential developers; building and landscaping designers; businesses, homeowners, conservationists in the community and working with our Village Engineering, Land Assessing, Public Works, Fire & Rescue and Police Departments.
My previous experiences include working as a Transit Planner in Pinellas County Florida, researching the impacts of climate change on energy systems as a Graduate Assistant for the Army Corps of Engineers, and doing stream research with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Why did you choose to study urban planning?
I attribute my passion for Urban Planning to growing up on a farm. My background gave me a strong understanding of physical geography and natural systems. At the same time, I have a strong curiosity of places and people in cities and cultures around the world. I believe that Urban Planning suits my interests because it is about shaping the future of our environment, human interactions, health and is a profession that is constantly changing based on new knowledge, technology, cultural and environmental trends.
What advice would you share with someone who is considering a career in urban planning?
If you are considering a career in Urban Planning, I recommend that you have an open-mind, are flexible and creative. You will need to be a critical thinker, an action taker, an educator and a student throughout your career. Be humble, respectful, confident and try to learn from every experience.