I am currently working on my statement of purpose for planning programs with a concentration on housing and community development. I still have not catered it to specific schools. I am saving that for the last section of the essay which is the very root of my problem right now: It is already 600 words and I have not even mentioned the specific programs. Somebody please read what I have so far and give advice on how to solve this problem. Thank you very much, here goes!
After spending a completely immersed “second senior year” of high school in Quito, Ecuador my mind began for the first time in my life to think in terms of social equality. Enrolled at the University of Colorado Boulder, I was learning about the historical and current political explanations of the social conditions I had witnessed in South America in the department of Anthropology. At the same time I found myself concerned with the current condition of Latino immigrants in the United States. I began working in the ESL center at Boulder High School (from which I had graduated a few years earlier) with the same Latino population that, as I was growing up, seemed so distant to me despite the fact that they sat right next to me in class. In retrospect I realized that Boulder had always kept them on the margins of mainstream society, tucked away in affordable housing complexes or trailer parks away from sight. I swore to myself that I would work towards serving communities that had been traditionally underserved in any capacity that I could. Being bilingual, I was naturally inclined to work with the Latino population. After graduating I moved to Phoenix, Arizona and after working briefly for a child abuse prevention organization serving mainly the Mexican immigrant community, moved to Denver and worked as a public school teacher for three years.
It was here that I became much more aware of the obstacles that the inner city minority communities face. Not only did I witness the effect of drugs and gang violence on my students, but our school population was rapidly declining due to the gentrification of the neighborhood our school was located in. The families were, in effect, being pushed to the outer suburbs and the new families moving in, were not sending their children to our school. This phenomenon and low performance on federally mandated standardized tests, led to the closures of both the schools I worked in.
Now living in Monterrey, Mexico teaching in a private school for the wealthy, I am preparing to return to the United States however this time plan to same communities in a different capacity. Living in Denver was exciting in the sense that the city is evolving in a much more dynamic way coming from an urban planning standpoint. Applying the concepts of “Smart Growth”, the city is beginning to build up rather than out, creating mixed use neighborhoods and allotting major budget portions to public transit. However, as it becomes more and more ‘hip’ to live downtown in many American cities such as Denver, I fear that the needs of those of low income status, particularly racial minorities, are being left out. “Smart Growth” refers to the growth of cities in a way that will more efficiently serve the needs of humans in a way that is less damaging to our survival and is more enriching in a cultural sense. I believe that this type of growth can only be called ‘smart’ if we are serving the needs of all humans.
My goal is to work as an urban planner in the concentration of housing and community development in order to ensure that mixed income neighborhoods accompany the creation of mixed use neighborhoods and that low income minorities have equal access to the new public amenities such as transportation, retail stores and public parks that are being created with Smart Growth. While I have no direct experience with planning in my professional history, I do have extensive experience working directly with the communities I intend to serve.