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.