MSc Global Urban Development and Planning
Why did you choose to study at The University of Manchester?
I am from Toronto, Canada and chose to come study at the University of Manchester to learn more about development studies beyond the American-centric view I experienced during my Undergraduate degree. This was certainly possible as my course hosted students from countries all around the world, which facilitated interesting class discussions. I also wanted to learn from experts in this field, which I knew would be possible with the faculty at the University and in GDI in particular.
Why did you choose your particular course?
I chose this course in particular because of the interdepartmental and interdisciplinary aspect. I was hoping to put my Bachelor’s degree in International Development to good use with practical skills, which this course absolutely made possible. Being able to learn the basics of urban planning for the first time, while in the constructs of international development allowed me to challenge my perception of planning beyond “the West.” It was also integral in establishing my interest in seeking alternate planning interventions using examples from the global South. When working on my Thesis with Prof. Nicola Banks, From Social Urbanism to Reconciliation Urbanism: Disseminating Knowledge From Medellín, Colombia to Toronto, Canada, I was able to tie in elements from each course I had taken at Manchester, further entrenching these lessons!
What have you done since graduating?
Since graduating, I have been awarded the RTPI North West Moss Madden Prize which recognized the research put forward in my dissertation. I have been awarded grants to continue this research through a PhD program at the University of British Colombia. This would not have been possible without the encouragement of the faculty at the University. I was connected with researchers in my field around the world through this program. I am now being invited to speak about the research I completed during my Master’s degree at conferences, which has been fantastic for career development.
Has your qualification helped you in your career?
The opportunities I experienced through GDI continue to influence my research and improves my credibility as a researcher. While studying I was able to travel to Colombia with Red Tree Study to learn about urban transformation in Medellín, which was financially supported by the SEED Student Research Fund. Without this opportunity my research career would look quite different.
Were there any specific modules or lecturers who particularly inspired you?
I continue to be in contact with my lecturers as their impact on me has been immense! Both Nicola Banks and Alfredo Stein Heinemann made me feel instantly comfortable in Manchester and supported me emotionally and academically during my time at the University (and they continue to offer guidance and support which I am so grateful for). Alfredo has a wealth of knowledge that students are welcome to tap into as he is very approachable and caring. Nicola offers a fresh perspective on numerous international development principles and demonstrates what is looks like to dedicate oneself to their research community, which I admire greatly.
What is your best memory from your time at Manchester?
I often find myself imagining I am back in Manchester walking around with friends, grabbing a coffee with classmates and enjoying the campus when it is lush and bright outside! My best memories when I reflect on my time always come back to sitting in TAKK and always finding friends and classmates inside to chat with, whether an engaged debate on class material, or reminiscing about things we all missed from home.
Do you have any tips or advice for current or prospective students?
My biggest piece of advice to students would be to always put yourself out there! Apply for that funding to go to a conference or external research opportunity! Go to office hours, ask for help to submit a job or graduate school application - every instructor is so welcoming and helpful! Take a workshop in the city on something different from your course - this is how I met my closest friends! You never know where taking chances will take you. The opportunities are here, and there is all the support you need to get you where you want to go. It is always daunting to put yourself out there, but I found the environment in Manchester (both in the city and University) to be welcoming and supportive.