To view Samantha's paper, Lawrence and Harlem: Reviving Transit-Friendly Areas, click here. The paper was prepared for the required specialization course UPP 558, Spatial Planning I: Theoretical Foundations.
What is your academic and work background? What did you do before enrolling in the MUPP program at UIC?
I’ve formally studied studio art, art history, political science, architecture, and classics, to varying degrees. I’ve also studied abroad in Rome and Cairo, which presented me with critical urban questions about topics like historic preservation, pollution, and wealth disparity. I currently work as a website & graphic designer for a variety of diverse non-profits, labor unions, small businesses, and government entities… which I like because I can contribute my design and tech skills to their many worthy causes.
What attracted you to planning and made you decide you
wanted to be a planner?
Planning is unapologetically interdisciplinary, while also being grounded in the built environment. My studies and work also reflect this, because while they seem diverse, they have all revolved around the theme of understanding the symbiosis (or lack thereof) between people and place, and what can be done to improve that relationship. The growing importance of planning in a world grappling with climate change is another reason I chose this profession.
Why did you want to study planning at UIC?
Chicago is an important place in its own right, and I also have deep roots in the area. CUPPA’s reputation, size, and network were also considerable draws. Above all though, I wanted to study urban planning in an urban setting.
What are some of the highlights of your time as a student--classes, projects, internships, volunteer involvement?
I am partway into my second semester, so I still have most of my time at UIC ahead of me, but I’ve already participated in the planning of this year’s Urban Innovation Symposium, which was a great success, with many dynamic speakers and a large captive audience.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I will be in Chicagoland contributing to the creation and revitalization of historic districts, making areas more pedestrian & bicyclist friendly, and/or using digital innovations to study & improve the quality urban life.