Statement of Belief
Planning requires vision. Planners are visionaries. Visionaries are those who plan for the present while considering future generations to come. Visionaries are those who think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom. Visionaries are those who are the builders of a new dawn. Visionaries are those who are social innovators and change agents. Visionaries are planners.
Capacity Building | International Development
Growing up in South Georgia, I was isolated from the urban lifestyle, but somehow had a deep affection for people, especially people from other cultures. A true bookworm, I would spend hours at the library in the summer selecting books about Massai Warriors in East Africa, Mayan people in South America, Aborigines in Australia, and the list goes on. I would dream about one day going to these places and meeting these beautiful people I had read about in books. I would write about these fictional adventures I dreamt of, and sketch my own interpretation of these people. I was entranced by the world and the escape it provided from the monotony of my American life.
While in school, I performed well, always questioning the status quo, wondering why I wasn’t doing more than just going to school daily. As the years passed, I learned about the atrocities that so many people groups face on a daily basis, both in the United States and throughout the world. The fascination that was so innocent turned into a passion for justice, a level of passion unmatched in any other part of my life. I decided that I would go to college only on the condition that upon graduation, my degree would be of value to those who desperately needed representation in the world, someone to fight for them. My parents believed I was wasting my intelligence, after all, in their eyes, ultimate success was becoming a doctor or lawyer, both of which they believed I could be.
I left for Berry College in the fall of 2007 as a declared Cultural Anthropology major. This major would, after all, allow me to constantly read about other cultures and traditions that were vastly different than my own. The summer of 2008 brought about great opportunity. I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda for a three-month period. It was there that the fantasies I had about other cultures came to life. I worked with Massai warriors, broke bread with them even. I stayed with a family in their remote hut in a small village on the south side of Kenya. I traveled to Uganda, and rafted the Nile. I rode on the back of a motorcycle for what seemed like hundreds of miles, seeing the smiling faces and hand waves of the men and women on the Ugandan countryside. I worked in an orphanage in the largest slum in Africa. I went on safari, and saw exotic animals.
All of this, once back in the United States, led me on a long search for something other than just studying cultures. I had experienced a call to action of sorts. Anthropology, and essentially academia was not the way for me to act on my experience and make a true difference in the lives of others.
In an attempt to find the right path, I transferred to a State school, Georgia State, in August of 2009. I declared my major as community development, then women’s studies, then community development, all in one year. Still unsatisfied in the potential career choices I was making, I decided to take a class on Metropolitan Atlanta. On the very last day of class, the genius behind the Atlanta Beltline came to speak to my class. As I was sitting in a desk that evening at Georgia State, it became clear to me what path I was destined to take. The speaker was a candidate for a master’s of Urban planning at Georgia Tech. The speaker addressed all of the problems that metropolitan Atlanta faced; serious congestion, lack of affordable housing, a city built only for the automobile, and how his plan was going to combat all of these problems. This was it. I was going to be a planner.
That evening lead to a frantic search for an undergraduate program where I could finish out my undergraduate career as an urban planner. To no avail, I found none in Georgia, but one I was very interested in in Columbus, Ohio, The Ohio State University. I applied, and would move to Columbus in September of 2010. With one semester of my undergraduate left as a community development major, I transferred to Ohio State University’s, City and Regional Planning program, and never looked back.
I fell in love with cities. I fell in love with the solutions offered to the uncountable problems this world has.
In June of 2012, I graduated from the Undergraduate program and began the graduate program in City and Regional Planning. I will graduate from the master’s program in May of 2014.