What have you been up to since you finished the MURP program?
Since finishing the MURP program I have been a planner working for the City of Arvada. I've been in my position for 3.5 years and have gained a tremendous amount of experience in development review, zoning code administration, writing zoning code, historic design guideline administration, project management, work with boards, commissions, and City Council, public engagement, and other various planning roles. Additionally I've been involved in various presentations and panels for lectures and conferences, have worked on a new transportation planning related blog, and have recently began my real estate broker license education.
How did you become interested in your field?
I grew up around development as my grandpa and dad were small, local developers in Northern Colorado. I knew that I didn't like the financial or manual labor part of development but I enjoyed the design and entitlement part of the process. In college I discovered urban planning through a friend and took a class in urban studies and fell in love. I've always enjoyed cities and discussing urban issues around housing, transportation, equity, and climate change. There are many part of planning that I love by land-use is my favorite.
What have been the biggest challenges in your career?
The biggest challenges in my career have been trying to balance the visions of large comprehensive, master, sub-area, etc. plans with the realities of the market, codes, and politics. We've spent so much time working on various visionary plans that contain details on policy guidance and long-range planning projects that the community has invested in. However, sometimes the reality of the world does not always deliver the ""perfect"" result.
What do you find most rewarding about your career?
What I find most rewarding about my career is seeing something completed from beginning to end and then seeing the benefit that it is providing. Development takes a VERY long time even if its for something as predictable and ""simple"" as a new bank on an existing pas site. Watching a project that creates a community benefit develop through the process and then exist in the community where it is helping people is especially rewarding.
In what ways has your MURP degree had an impact on your career and who you are today?
My MURP degree has provided me with a well-rounded view of urban planning and other issues related to economic development, climate change, racial justice and other social issues, transportation, and other various fields. This has allowed me to, both professionally and personally, be engaged with people in other fields of work and has allowed me to see the world through many different lenses. My MURP degree has also taught me the value of networking in this industry and the importance of having open dialogue and honest conversations.
What would you say to a prospective student that is considering CU Denver's MURP program?
I would tell a prospective student to be patient and be open-minded. Several times in the program, particularly with studios, I found myself second guessing my choice on urban planning as a profession. This was usually either because what I was working on was too hard or the process was not evolving quick enough. What this taught me about planning was that our planning processes should not be rushed and instead should be handled very diligently and with detail in order to ensure the best outcomes for the plan or project that we are working on.
What was your favorite part about your time at CU Denver?
My favorite part about my time at CU Denver was the learning and getting acquainted with the other students in my cohort. Every instructor in the program brings a different perspective to their classes being that they all have a different background. There was not a single class that I did not enjoy and the classes are also very hands on and in most cases you will work on projects for an actual client. This not only provides educational experience but also professional experience that you can use in your portfolio.
Do you have any advice for recent MURP graduates looking to break into the planning field?
For recent graduates I would say to not be picky, especially if you don't have any professional planning experience to add to your resume. Be open to many positions both in the public and private sector and be open to learning. Most students do not get their dream job right out of the MURP program and you shouldn't set that expectation. Accepting an entry level job allows you to learn, develop, and grow with the organization and gives you the skills you need to make yourself more marketable either for a different position or promotion or new job.