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  • I moved to a new city when I was 14 years old, and during the four years of high school, I often struggled with feelings of isolation, now living in a suburban development that was without public transit, but full of sidewalks to nowhere. Summer vacations felt dreadfully long without purpose or the school routine to break up the day. I regretfully look back at that time as taking up space, rather than being a fully engaged individual.

    During college I lived in a housing cooperative with nineteen other people whose lives have impacted who I am today. They challenged my beliefs, taught me how to dance, and relied on me to cook them dinner on Monday evenings. I reflected on how different my life was then compared to my teenage years in the burbs, which led me to a career in urban planning. In the early stages of my studies, I expected that I would design cooperative housing, where people would realize the potential of social capital to improve their lives.

    My profession looks much different, but the importance of community engagement and advocating for public good through design is at its core. I consider how my work can impact the lives of vulnerable populations, how it can help people meet their needs, and ensure that they have sidewalks that lead them places.
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