Alberto De Los Rios
After obtaining my undergraduate degree (B.S. environment and society), I wanted to continue the work and volunteerism I had conducted in several communities across Tallahassee, which were pivotal to my undergraduate experience. Likewise, I had become familiar with faculty from my department through community events and other local efforts that promoted economic development, sustainability, and equity. Thus, I knew the application of my desired profession would be given and I would have the privilege of continuing my connections with the communities I care about. Lastly, the diversity of my department's faculty was highly appealing and was an added benefit to broaden my horizons in topics such as housing, food systems, transportation, and health.
Motivation to pursue a graduate degree
The Master's of Science in Planning (MSP) is a unique experience that combines theoretical learning with hands-on application. It allows me to see the value of community engagement and stakeholder participation in a plethora of subjects that have the potential to improve the quality of life for many individuals across communities. The MSP curriculum also provided me with a foundational knowledge that can be adapted to solve a variety of problems, enabling me to think critically and work collaboratively to find satisfactory solutions in a myriad of subjects that involve humans in their built and natural environments.
Importance and impact of research and work
The different areas of research that I have assisted faculty in conducting and my individual research intersect issues of planning, such as housing and transportation, with participation, diversity, and equity. Through this research, systemic barriers rooted in racism and suppression of minorities are unveiled, indicating their pervasiveness in society. Even though the housing affordability crisis and inequity in access to adequate transportation cannot be fixed immediately, the findings of this type of research can provide government officials, planners, consultants, and stakeholders with resources that relate to issues in their respective communities. They can also find incremental solutions to the issues at hand, approaching them from a more holistic, equitable, and inclusive standpoint.
I seek to conduct intersectional work in the realm of planning, with the overarching goal of empowering communities through education, inclusion, and participation. Whether I work in the field of transportation, neighborhood, environmental, or land use planning, equity will be at the forefront of my values, critically evaluating potential solutions that bring everyone to the table.
Advice for anyone considering graduate school
Find your passion: make sure that the journey you are about to embark on will be one that brings a lot of joy to you. Also, know your own worth: look for opportunities that maximize your experience during graduate school, such as assistantships and grants.
Accomplishments during academic career
I was given publication credits in Dr. April Jackson's research paper, and I was showcased in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy Blog. I had the opportunity to become a City of Minneapolis Urban Scholar, and I got to attend the National American Planning Association (APA) conference and the Vision Zero Cities Conference. I received my department's excellence in community participation award, became a Joy Jinks fellow, was appointed as the vice president for the Department of Urban and Regional Planning Student Association (DURPSA), and am soon to be featured as a planning student in Planetizen. I am working with Dr. Will Butler to increase diversity in the planning department and helping to create a Quality of Life Plan for the Griffin Heights Neighborhood.