News | Meet Reaghan Murphy - Director of METRANS Mentor Program

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Meet Reaghan Murphy - Director of METRANS Mentor Program

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

by Adylbek Abdykalikov, USC, IPPAM 2020

Reaghan Murphy is a first-year Master of Urban Planning student at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at University of Southern California (USC) who has joined METRANS as a Student Director of the METRANS Mentor Program.

Murphy was born in New York and grew up just outside of Philadelphia, PA. She graduated from the University of South Carolina (UofSC) Honors College in Columbia, SC, with a B.A. in Global Studies, a B.S. in Geography, and minors in Environmental Studies and Spanish. She remembers that from very young age sustainability has been her passion. "I was very concerned and discouraged when I first learned about climate change in elementary school, but I quickly realized that I could either ignore the issue or try to do something about it,” she recalls. “Since then, my desire to reduce the consequences of climate change has motivated many of my personal and professional endeavors."

Murphy admits that it took her a long time to discover geography as a degree program and a career path, but once she did, she knew she was joining the right field. "In geography and GIS, I found a discipline that allowed me to combine my passion for sustainability and the environment with my desire to enact change through policy, while also permitting me to utilize my creativity and problem-solving skills to communicate critical information," she shared.

Murphy's initial interest in geography ultimately led her to a Master of Urban Planning. She remembers being hooked onto transportation planning during an introductory planning course through the Geography department in her junior year.  To fulfill her growing interest in transportation, she secured an internship with the South Carolina Senate Transportation Committee. She felt that learning more about transportation policy would help her understand how to address some of her sustainability concerns from a policy perspective. As the committee's only intern, Murphy gained a great deal of insight into the state-level transportation planning process through legislative research and participation in meetings with various stakeholders. "The experience not only piqued my interest in the transportation industry, but opened my eyes to the complicated role that planners take on as they liaise between government officials, corporations, unions, neighborhood-level organizations, and more."

Throughout her final year of undergraduate studies, Murphy completed an Honors Thesis addressing sustainable transportation planning on college campuses. "This project is what truly confirmed my aspiration to be a planner (and specifically a transportation planner) — I spent hours upon hours reading campus transportation plans for UofSC's peer institutions and delving into transportation demand management literature before using my research to analyze and critique UofSC's forthcoming campus transportation plan. The project allowed me to explore issues of equity, sustainability, and policy in transportation while also providing an opportunity to expand my skills in ArcGIS."

At USC, Murphy currently serves as one of three elected first-year representatives on the Associated Students of Planning & Development (ASPD) Executive Board and also serves as the Social Committee Chair. Murphy is also a Course Assistant for an undergraduate planning and policy course at the Price School.

She is thrilled to join the METRANS team, where she can utilize her background in community engagement, advocacy, and communication in the context of the transportation industry. At METRANS, Murphy primarily serves as the Student Director of the METRANS Mentor Program, which pairs students and recent graduates interested in a transportation career with established professionals in the transportation industry. Murphy and the METRANS team encourage everyone interested in transportation to join the mentor program; applications are accepted throughout the year on a rolling basis.

Murphy's biggest piece of advice for current students, whether in an undergraduate or graduate degree program, is simple - keep learning. "As students, we're surrounded by incredible opportunities to engage with and learn from leaders, communities, and each other. Never become complacent with the amount of knowledge you've acquired, and never pass up an interaction or an event that might teach you something new about yourself or others. Today's world is constantly evolving but maintaining curiosity about the world around us and the people we're experiencing this life with can help us prepare for whatever realities come our way, and can open our hearts and minds to newer, better ways of thinking and living."

About the Author:

Adylbek Abdykalikov is a graduate student in the International Public Policy and Management Program at USC Price. He has working experience in various 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, and serves as the lead student event coordinator for METRANS and PSR.