What is your current job and how did your planning degree prepare you for it?
I am a Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner at Trailnet in St. Louis, MO. Trailnet is a bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization that works within the St. Louis region to promote healthy, active, and vibrant communities. My job within Trailnet is to consult on how municipalities can create more liveable communities by designing streets and communities that invite residents to bike and walk safely.
My planning degree aided in preparing for my career because it gave me the skills and foundation needed to understand a communities built environment and how it affects their health. Further having a planning degree, strengthens my Master in Public Health because it helped me understand how communities are formed and planned.
Why did you choose to study urban planning?
I choose to study urban planning because I felt that having a public health degree was not enough to understand how the built environment affects health. I wanted to understand how plans were made, and how communities have been shaped over time. My desire is to strengthen and improve the intersection between planners and public health. Planners have the potential to bring together a diverse array of stakeholders to create more livable and vibrant communities.
What advice would you share with someone who is considering a career in urban planning?
My advice would be to absorb, observe, and participate. Absorb your surroundings because there is so much to discover and learn about a community. Observe because without observing the area that you are a part of then there is no way to absorb and learn how to improve a community. Participation is 100% key and needed. The number one mistake a planner can make is to enter a community, which they are not a part of and tell the community what they need instead of listening to them. Planners need to participate in order to develop changes that make sense to that community or to be able to suggest changes to change a mindset of stakeholders.