Category: first impressions
Jenny Molina ’13 is drawn to UEP’s core values
| July 11, 2011 | 12:00 am | first impressions | Comments closed

This post comes to you from Jenny Molina, an incoming UEP student. You can see other perspectives of incoming students by clicking on “First Impressions” in the “Categories” menu.

Over the last 10 years or so, my entire family has reminded me about how my undergrad decision process was one of the most painful processes of their lives! Looking back, it’s possibly, somewhat, mildly accurate…. I was unsure about lots of things in early adulthood, including where and what I would be studying, and it became just that – a process.

On the flipside, choosing a graduate school was an exciting time and actually gave me butterflies! I realized that I needed a program that would challenge and prepare me for the public service sector. I chose UEP over other nationally recognized programs because I feel personally connected to the program’s core principles and values, as well as the program’s ability to challenge and empower students to focus on their passions and professional ambitions. During my visit, I gravitated towards the program’s interdisciplinary focus and the visible partnership of talented faculty and students who support the approach in developing both practitioners and researchers.

My decision to pursue a degree at UEP stems from a series of distinct yet interrelated personal experiences. My extensive travels after my undergraduate studies led me to better understand personally meaningful values while challenging my beliefs regarding the function of cities around the world. I was fortunate enough to play soccer for the Mexican National Team – playing teams all over the world and participating in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Upon my return to the United States I explored my interest in landscape architecture and saw the impact large urban projects have on both land use and overall aesthetics at the city and neighborhood level. My passion for social justice soon drove me to investigate my interests in community health at multiple organizations that examine urban health through the lenses of human rights and social justice. For the past 4 years my community work has involved managing a heath center wellness program that focuses on nutrition education, physical activity, and food access. With this job I have had the opportunity to work directly with city agencies, nonprofit organizations, civic leaders, and city residents to focus community voice and action.

In the coming months I will be farming full time in Metro-Boston, as well as volunteering with various nonprofits in the city of Boston. This fall I am particularly excited to learn from my fellow classmates and engage in thoughtful and challenging dialogues. Though I will miss working in the communities closest to my heart, I am excited and committed to take on a new chapter in my academic career at Tufts University.

Amos Wright ’13 reflects on his path to UEP
| June 27, 2011 | 12:00 am | first impressions | Comments closed

The following was written by Amos Wright ’13 about his meandering path to UEP. Throughout the summer, we’re featuring posts by a few incoming students, explaining in their own words a little about what brings them to our program. The previous post was by Janet Lau. If you are an incoming student

I received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I discovered planning through the enchanting backdoor of urban and critical social theorists such as Edward Soja, Henri Lefebvre, Walter Benjamin, et al. The urban poems of Frank O’Hara were also inspirational.

In the sultry summer of 2007 I muttered some tearless valedictions to the city of my birth and drove a U-haul a thousand miles north and east. Boston revealed to me that urban centers don’t have to be asphalted acres of industrial blight gloomier than T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland.” During my brief employment at the Harvard Bookstore, I got my paws on an edition of Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities. That gospel of urbanism was soon joined by other provocative books, in which I read how the interstate highway system was used to further the cause of racial segregation, even after it was declared unconstitutional.

Jump-cut to 2011. I’ve finished a graduate degree in English (also at UAB) and can’t get a job at Barnes & Noble. Epiphany: I have to work for a living, and academia, at least among the humanities, is slowly going extinct. I was a dilettante, the eighth cardinal sin. I was getting older, and it was time to get serious.

Eventually, I resolved to apply to urban planning programs. I interned at the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, a vast bureaucratic labyrinth of Kafkaesque dimensions, but I learned some concrete skill sets like GIS and Google Sketchup and collected field data for the city’s anemic bus system. Birmingham might be a regressive city stuck in 1963, but its urban form remains an asset. We have Vulcan, the world’s largest cast iron statue. Paris may have the Eiffel and New York the Statue of Liberty, but we’ve got Vulcan.

At present, I drink copious quantities of French pressed coffee and write on a short story collection and a novel. I also edit The White Whale Review, an electronic literary journal, and The Heaviest Corner, a blog devoted to urban issues in Birmingham. May this second graduate degree be my last one.

Janet Lau ’13 looks forward to UEP’s intimate atmosphere
| June 13, 2011 | 12:00 am | first impressions | Comments closed

The following was written by incoming UEP student Janet Lau. Over the summer, we’ll be featuring several blog posts from incoming students describing a little about their background as well as what excites them about UEP.

One of the most appealing aspects of UEP that attracted me was the size and intimate atmosphere here. People can really get to know and work with one another. The faculty are accessible and the classes are small, normally between ten and twenty students. This is a huge change for me, coming from an undergraduate experience at NYU Stern, where I often didn’t know my classmates’ names and doubted whether the professor recognized my face. And yet, despite its intimacy, UEP has a well-recognized program and dedicated faculty. It also didn’t hurt my decision that I received a generous scholarship from Tufts.

This fall I’m looking forward to starting a new life in Boston, being back in school mode, discovering crazy things, and meeting awesome people. I’ve been drifting the last couple of years – a year in investment banking after graduating in finance and international business, a year in Amsterdam working at a nonprofit focused on agricultural sustainability, and a year in Madrid teaching English and learning Spanish. After 2 years abroad, I’m excited to be back in the States and take advantage of all that Boston and Tufts have to offer. In particular, I look forward to exploring the function and design of city spaces and their effects within communities in both the domestic and international domains. Let’s explore together, shall we?