To view Alex's paper, Blue Island, Illinois: Community Profile, click here. The paper was written for the required core course UPP 502, Planning Skills.
What is your academic and work background? What did you do before enrolling in the MUPP program at UIC?
I studied English and Sociology as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Afterwards I worked as a paralegal in employment and immigration law which involved lots of on the ground outreach. I also worked as a caseworker at a homeless shelter in the Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago. These work experiences really strengthened my desire to work on development and find ways to address poverty, especially after the recession.
What attracted you to planning and made you decide you
wanted to be a planner?
I read extensively on the subject prior to applying to the MUPP program. I was interested in the interdisciplinary approach to planning, as the complex issues of economic growth during an era of climate change requires a grasp of several issues. I also liked how planning has a direct practical approach.
Why did you want to study planning at UIC?
I ran into several MUPP alumni from UIC during my time working at non-profits and they seemed to be working on the types of projects I wanted to do. Studying at UIC also offered me the chance to apply my learning directly to the work I had been conducting in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago.
What are some of the highlights of your time as a student--classes, projects, internships, volunteer involvement?
A highlight has been currently working on the UPP 506 studio class that involves creating a plan for the former Crawford and Fisk coal plants in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods of Chicago. I grew up in those neighborhoods and it is a great chance to apply my learning to benefit those areas.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I would like to be working on development projects abroad, especially in Latin America. Hopefully having set up a non-profit by then!