Despite what many of my friends from my time as an undergraduate at UCLA have dubbed “crossing over to the dark side,” attending USC for graduate school is one of the best choices I’ve ever made. In just one semester, I’ve met some of the kindest, most amazing people I could imagine, started an internship that has already proven to be incredibly valuable, and completely altered and inspired my perspective on urban planning. Any and all apprehension I once had regarding my decision to come to Price to complete my Master of Planning degree has been entirely replaced by pride in my school and optimism for what is to come.
The structure of MPL program and the culture of the Price School made making friends almost inevitable. Accompanied by fellow members of my first-year cohort, I was able to find a friendly face in every class, meeting and event that I attended this semester. I always felt incredibly connected through Facebook groups, GroupMe’s, group chats and pretty much any other means of communication out there. While it may seem overwhelming to meet more than 70 people in a matter of days, I enjoyed every minute of it because each person I met had both unique qualities and a shared interest in the material we have been studying.
The expanded social network provided by Price was soon followed by internship opportunities. Without a great group of planning students to travel with, I might never have attended the American Planning Association conference in Oakland, California, where I was able to converse with planning professionals and make a connection that resulted in my latest internship. After interning for just three weeks in a public planning department, I have learned more than I could have anticipated and had the privilege of speaking to planners from a myriad of occupational backgrounds and levels of experience. I know that I will emerge from this semester with a wealth of knowledge which I can build upon in other positions.
Socially, academically and philosophically, the MPL program and the Price School has challenged, transformed and expanded my perspective on planning. I walked out of every class feeling like the biggest nerd (in a good way), because learning about something I really care about is actually enjoyable and being surrounded by a group of people who are equally as passionate makes me excited for the next three semesters. So, maybe the dark side isn’t so bad after all. Fight On! And may the force be with you.
Olivia Joncich, MPL ’17