MURP 2020 | Transit Programming Support SpecialistJan 20, 2021
Following my graduation in May of 2020 I was interning full-time over the summer and through September for the Colorado Department of Transportation in the Division of Transit and Rail. I worked with their Project Coordination Unit helping to oversee the transit agencies across the state. Following my internship I transitioned into a full-time position at CDOT in their Programming Unit as the Transit Programming Support Specialist. I help our unit to oversee our grants management system, as well as, manage the programming of funds going out to the transit agencies across the state.
How did you become interested in your field?
Before attending the MURP program I served as an AmeriCorps member for an affordable housing non-profit as well as a HUD program sponsored by the Mayor's office in Nashville, TN. Through both of those experiences I became passionate and developed a deeper understanding of the issues that many local residents face including obtaining and maintaining safe & affordable housing as well as creating a transit network that can serve all modes of transportation. It became evident to me that I wanted to pursue a Master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning to provide better solutions for local residents and create more sustainable systems for those residents.
What have been the biggest challenges in your career?
With the COVID-19 outbreak it became alarmingly evident that I maybe was not going to become a traditional "planner" following graduation due to budgetary constraints for many local governments surrounding Denver. Luckily, I was able to stay with CDOT and have been able to work with an amazing team that promotes better and more sustainable transportation structures and systems throughout the state. Although I am not starting out where I thought I would be following graduation, I believe I am still on a path towards a fulfilling career in urban planning.
What do you find most rewarding about your career?
Thus far, I find the knowledge that my position is working towards the goal of providing residents with safe and convenient options to get around the state to be the most rewarding.
In what ways has your MURP degree had an impact on your career and who you are today?
My MURP degree has given me the opportunity to go in depth into many issues that I am passionate about and has provided me with the tools necessary to try and solve those issues through planning. I think about my capstone project, in particular, and how the resource I created gave me the opportunity to use all my skills and knowledge I had acquired comprehensively. I was able to create a resource, alongside my capstone partner, that was professional and is something I am proud to have as part of my portfolio.
What would you say to a prospective student that is considering CU Denver's MURP program?
Take every opportunity to network throughout your time in the program and speak with alumni of the program as well. There are so many amazing opportunities you can pursue professionally, but if you do not actively network you will
What was your favorite part about your time at CU Denver?
The connections I made with my fellow classmates and my professors. I truly believe you can learn a lot from your peers and your teachers simultaneously. This program allowed me to develop true bonds with my fellow classmates and professors due to the interactive and hands on nature of CU Denver's MURP program. I am very happy with my decision to have pursued my MURP degree at CU Denver.
Do you have any advice for recent MURP graduates looking to break into the planning field?
Considering I am one of those recent graduates it is a little harder for me to give advice about breaking into the planning field. One thing I would say though is take every opportunity you can, even if it is a volunteer-based opportunity because you never know what that experience will lead you to.