News | Price MPP Student William Graswich Ready to Make More Big Contributions to METRANS

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by Jacob Wong, USC Master of Public Policy, 2023

With a background in political science and economic development, USC Price graduate student and returning METRANS student worker William Graswich is looking forward to another year of studying transportation policy in the second year of his Master of Public Policy degree program.


Graswich, whose academic focus for his MPP degree is on sustainable transportation technologies and renewable energy, filled a number of roles for METRANS last year, with stints working on the Toastmasters team, doing administrative work for the METRANS Transportation Student Association (TSA), and helping with the Futures in Transportation (FIT) Program earlier this year. 


William Graswich, Master of Public Policy, USC


“What I really like about the way that METRANS is structured for students is that there are a lot of opportunities to take on leadership roles, project development opportunities, or to create tasks in areas that you’re interested in,” said Graswich. 


A career in transportation was not always on Graswich’s radar. Growing up near Sacramento, Graswich rarely used public transportation. While the city has a light rail network and bus system, these transit options were slow and did not follow the routes that Graswich normally took. In his hometown, he found that driving his car was typically a more convenient option. 


This was also the case when Graswich moved to UC Santa Barbara for college, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Similarly to his hometown, Graswich found that Santa Barbara did not have a complex transit system, and he continued to primarily use his car to get around while in school. His studies were not related to the transportation field either; as a Political Science major, Graswich focused on political campaigns and government structure and had little exposure to transportation or policymaking.


After finishing college at UCSB, Graswich started working for a nonprofit in the San Francisco Bay Area focused on regional economic development. While working there, Graswich noticed how the nonprofit was prioritizing the expansion of regional transportation systems as a way of driving economic development in the Bay Area. “I got to see firsthand how effective transportation systems can lead to economic growth and better opportunities for people,” said Graswich. “We take a lot of transportation systems for granted…when there is a poorly functioning transportation system, that really limits people’s access to things such as jobs and education.”


Through his experience at the nonprofit, Graswich learned the value of high-quality transportation systems and enrolled in the Price School’s MPP program to acquire more skills that he would need to pursue a career in the field. “I came to Price to further my knowledge base and skillset to work on transportation policy,” he said.


Now halfway toward earning his degree, Graswich has enjoyed the flexibility that the Price school has given for him to explore his interests. “In my first year there were a lot of group projects as well as individual work that I got to select that were transportation or sustainability-focused.” He also appreciates the practical skills he has acquired in the program so far. “They show you and teach you skillsets to help you write and research good policy in a professional environment, which is something I didn’t get during undergrad,” he said.


In addition to his classes at Price, Graswich has found his involvement with METRANS so far to be a valuable learning experience as he pursues his career goals. While he was originally drawn to METRANS by its involvement in transportation policy research, he has come to learn that the organization’s value is encompassed by all of its programs, citing as an example a recent initiative by the education team to develop interactive educational game design tools for young students. “There are a lot of things at METRANS that students can get involved in to develop their skillsets in areas besides just policy research,” he said.


About the Author:

Jacob is a second-year MPP student at the Price School of Public Policy. He is interested in urban policy and transportation planning issues. As a recent LA transplant, he enjoys exploring the area and the local food scene in his free time.