MURP Alumni Profiles

Prospective students often ask, "What can I do with a MURP degree from CU Denver?" Our program prepares students to work in diverse areas of planning around Colorado and the United States. Check out the profiles below to read alumni stories about how CU Denver MURP helped them meet their career goals. 

Geneva faulkner_edit

Geneva Faulkner '13

Senior Environmental Planner

What have you been up to since you finished the MURP program?
I've bounced around a bit! My first job after finishing my MURP degree was at a larger consulting company in the Bay Area where I focused on NEPA, CEQA, and environmental permitting for transportation and land use projects. From there I moved back to the Pacific Northwest, where I'm originally from, and had a stint working in an arts nonprofit before getting a job at a small land surveying and civil engineering company. After a couple years I was hired at HNTB in Seattle where I was the environmental team lead for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) SR 509 Completion Project, one of four Megaprograms in the Puget Sound region. I currently work at Confluence Environmental Company. I'm involved in a variety or projects including the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program, Sound Transit light rail projects, and many others.

How did you become interested in your field?
My dad is a building official for a small town in Western Washington, so I grew up with an understanding of public sector work in the building industry. He's a great storyteller who could make building inspections and plans review sound exciting (not saying they aren't, Dad, in case you're reading this!). As I learned more, the question that started nagging at me was "but who decides where the houses go?" which naturally led me to planning. I didn't start really putting the pieces together until college, where I did a combined degree in Sociology and Environmental Studies. That really set me on the planning path.

What have been the biggest challenges in your career?
Asking questions and asking for help. Environmental regulations are boundlessly complex and ever changing. I've had to become more and more okay with not knowing everything and leaning on folks who have expertise in biology, geology, wetlands, engineering, landscape architecture, urban design, and other fields (including other planners!). My biggest challenge is not letting ego or feeling that I "should" know something keep from doing the research, making the phone call, asking the question, and moving forward.

What do you find most rewarding about your career?
When one of my projects gets permitted and constructed. Timeframes in environmental planning and permitting are often long. It can be months, years, or decades before projects are permitted and constructed, so I feel a lot of accomplishment when I hit a big milestone. On a daily basis, I find building relationships with my clients, agencies, and fellow colleagues incredibly rewarding. I also love digging into the weeds when it comes to environmental regulations and law. Using my brain to solve complex problems is fun. Sometimes I wish I had tacked on that extra J.D. degree from UCD when I had the chance!

What was your favorite part about your time at CU Denver?
The people. Hands down. Never have I met and studied with such a group of talented, diverse, passionate, wonderful people. Something about the structure of grad school, or maybe UCD specifically, bonds you to your cohort. Grad school is where I learned how to really work on a team, lend and receive support, and really internalize the greatest truth (for me) about planning: it doesn't happen in a vacuum.

Do you have any advice for recent MURP graduates looking to break into the planning field?
Talk to people. Lots of people. Talk to people who do the planning work that interests you and people who do different types of work. Ask questions about their careers and what they do on a daily basis. You never know where those connections will lead or who might refer you to the person who's looking to hire. You don't need to know a lot of people to start. Just reach out to a few people who can tell you more about planning and start growing from there. You could get lucky by applying to online jobs, but the reality is that most jobs are filled by candidates who know someone. Focus the effort where you'll get the biggest bang for your buck and start reaching out to people.