News | Encouraging Future Generations: ASPD, Gear Up 4 LA and METRANS Engage High School Students to Learn How Urban Planning Can Shape the Future of Cities

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Adylbek Abdykalikov, USC, IPPAM 2020

On November 16th, 2018, the USC Associated Students of Planning and Development (ASPD),  Gear Up 4 LA and METRANS Transportation Center organized a vibrant event for high school students,  Planning 4 College. Designed to expose future generations to university life and the world of urban planning while visiting a college campus, the event aims to engage high school students in both the field of planning and higher education as a whole, all the while giving them a chance to learn how to make cities safe, healthy, and an enjoyable place to live for existing and future generations.  The students were also given opportunities to learn more about the college admissions process and requirements of USC, ask questions from the Master of Planning graduate students, and hear, first hand, personal experiences of transitioning from high school to higher education.

The day was aimed to encourage students to think critically of their own communities and cities, and, for me as one of the fortunate participants, it was a great pleasure to observe that future generations are aware of their neighborhoods. The way the students were engaged and actively participated in all activities demonstrated their understanding and concern about the importance of urban planning for future sustainable development.

During the event, students were acquainted with the different kinds of Urban Planners, such as Community, Environmental and Transportation Planners, and participated in a number of interactive events. During the Community Mapping activity, students were asked to draw maps of their own neighborhoods, to determine the ­­strengths and weaknesses of each community, and to think critically of what their own neighborhoods might look like in the future. The USC Campus Tour Scavenger hunt challenged students to navigate the campus and design their own campus map while strategizing the most efficient routes while also exposing them to landmarks on campus, such as the Tommy Trojan landmark and the newest addition to the USC libraries, Leavey Library.

The event ended with lively performances from each group of students where they had the chance to showcase what life would be like in their “ideal city.”  

“I really enjoyed the time I spent at USC,” reflected Victor Ismael Sanchez-Hernandez, a high school student from the STEM Academy of Hollywood. “It was very eye-opening for me to see how college life is and to see college students walking around campus. It’s a very different atmosphere once you’re inside the campus than being outside of campus.”

 “I love how USC has a world of its own. The environment of the university fits with every individual, the diversity explains it all,” noted participant, Georjane Leus, UCLA Community School, Class of 2021.

Overall, the Planning 4 College event proved to be an incredibly valuable opportunity for young Angelinos to learn more about university life at USC as well as gain insight into the realm of urban planning.  We look forward to hosting this event again.

About the Author:

Adylbek Abdykalikov is a graduate student of International Public Policy and Management Program at USC Price. He has a working experience in different positions at the Ministries of Transport and Communication and Investment and Development of Kazakhstan, and was in charge of Transportation and Civil Aviation policy development and implementation.