USC Price students lauded for best laid plans
When it came to the 2012-13 California Planning Foundation (CPF) scholarships, eight proved to be the lucky number for the USC Price School of Public Policy’s master of planning (MPL) students.
“Eight winners is a wonderful achievement,” said Marlon Boarnet, professor and director of graduate programs in urban planning. “Our graduate students are among the most competitive in the state — and this is another indication. The California Planning Foundation runs the premier scholarship competition for master of planning students statewide.”
Established by the California chapter of the American Planning Association (APA), the CPF provides scholarships and awards to in-state university students who demonstrate talent, motivation and academic excellence.
MPL student Alberto Esqueda-Duarte brought home the $3,000 Diversity in Planning Award.
“My scholarship essay touched upon integrating new or multiple transportation networks and making them work together more seamlessly,” said Esqueda-Duarte, who worked at the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency for three years before starting graduate school.
After graduation, he plans to apply what he’s learned at USC to further his work in the transportation field.
“LA’s a really exciting area to be studying transportation right now,” he said. “With Measure R, there are a lot of projects that are funded and en route to be constructed.”
Carley Markovitz, who is pursuing dual MPL/master of public administration degrees, earned $3,000 as one of three runners-up for the outstanding student scholarship.
Markovitz — an intern in Metro’s environmental compliance department, who plans to pursue a career in the transportation sector — said that the number of USC honorees “really reflects the depth and comprehensiveness of this program.”
Markovitz noted how she enjoys studying planning in a city as dynamic as LA.
“USC calls LA the living laboratory, and I’ve found it to be very true,” she said. “There are so many issues going on here pertaining to transportation and environmental policy.”
MPL student Jacqueline Illum received the $1,000 David Wilcox Scholarship.
Illum earned her undergraduate degree in behavioral neuroscience from Rutgers University and worked as a molecular biologist in drug discovery. She entered the MPL program at USC to explore public health interventions from the environmental and planning side. She plans to pursue a PhD to research ways to integrate public health and planning.
“There are different urban factors that can alter your health, and I’m interested in studying that further, especially with how it relates back to social justice,” she said. “Every community is different, and some of them are a lot less equitable for health than others. I’m interested in seeing how we can change that.”
Stephanie Byrd, an MPL student who is also earning a certificate in historic preservation from the USC School of Architecture, won the $1,000 Los Angeles Section Award Scholarship.
Byrd noted that she’s interested in researching buildings and advocating for their preservation, “helping people realize how many great things are in their own cities.”
In addition, each accredited MPL program can designate one winner for the $1,000 Continuing Student Merit Award, and USC chose MPL student Peter Enzminger as its recipient. The continuing student award is “given to the most outstanding student leader and scholar within the program, and we look for a strong combination of both,” Boarnet explained.
Enzminger, who serves as president of the Associated Students of Planning and Development at USC Price, spent three years teaching and tutoring at a charter school and working in a law office before heading to USC.
Enzminger credits the school’s MPL program with providing the “real-world experience and technical skills” needed to advance professionally. After graduation, he plans to work in affordable housing development or community economic development.
The USC MPL program also had the opportunity to designate Anthony Guardado ’12 for the CPF Graduating Student Merit Award. In addition, MPL students Caitlan Cullen and Adam Rubin garnered honorable mentions.
All scholarships included a one-year student membership in the American Planning Association, along with an invitation to an awards luncheon held in October during the association’s annual conference in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
For all eight winners, the CPF scholarships are worth more than dollars and cents.
“I tell students that the résumé value is larger than the dollar value and probably substantially so,” Boarnet said. “This is run by some very elite practitioners, so it establishes that these students have been selected for these scholarships by leaders of practice and that these students are the future leaders of practice.”