"The greatest teachers will be your classmates."
- Degree: Master of Community and Regional Planning
- Grad year: 2021
- Program: Community and Regional Planning
- Campus: Vancouver
Sarah is a recent graduate from the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia. Her interests are in affordable housing and social policy planning. Sarah is passionate about creating cities that are accessible, equitable, and represent the needs of the city’s most vulnerable populations. Specifically, she is focused on planning through a gendered lens in order to create spaces, homes, and services that serve the needs of women and gender diverse folks.
During her time at UBC, she’s had the opportunity to work across the non-profit housing sector. As an intern, she developed a Business Continuity Plan for Atira Women’s Resource Society in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a Post-Pandemic Community Recovery Plan for the Downtown Eastside through a diversity and equity lens. She worked closely with Streetohome and KPMG to develop her capstone project which investigated the feasibility of shared housing as an affordable housing solution for women experiencing homelessness.
Before starting her master’s in planning, Sarah received a Masters of Arts in Politics at Acadia University. During this time, she developed her passion for women-centric city planning and creating equitable public spaces. Sarah also has a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from Acadia University.
Why did you choose to go into your field of study at UBC?
I knew I wanted to pursue urban planning as a career once I was introduced to it during my undergraduate degree at Acadia University. My background was heavily academic and theoretical but I wanted to pursue a path that would allow for practical and tangible solutions to structural issues. While a benefit of SCARP is its diversity of available focus areas, I ultimately chose SCARP for its emphasis on social planning, equity, and environmental justice. The program spoke to my interests but also provided an opportunity of growth by challenging my mindset and strengthening my practical skills.
What has made your time at UBC memorable?
The most memorable and impactful part of my UBC experience have been the people I’ve met along the way. From my cohort of like-minded, strong willed and caring individuals to the professors who instilled passions, provided constant encouragement, and opened my mind. I will be forever grateful to them for shaping me into who I am today.
Tell us about your experience in your program. What have you learned that is most valuable?
My academic background before starting at SCARP was very theoretical and academic focused. My strengths laid in large-scaled and systems-based thinking, however, I found it difficult to think about smaller-scaled actions that tend to have the largest impact on community. Planning is a beautiful mix of both the large and the small. The ability to think practically and technically while also considering the big picture is a valuable skill I’ve learned at SCARP. All aspects of community are intricately interconnected and understanding this connection at various scales has been invaluable.
What advice would you give a student entering your degree program?
The greatest teachers will be your classmates. SCARP is full of students that have such a diverse range of interests, experiences, expertise, and passions. Learning from each other is one of the most meaningful and rewarding parts of the SCARP experience. Most people don’t come from a planning background, and everyone is learning together. If you start the program without a clear “plan” or idea of what you want to do, that’s okay! Your passions can come to you when you least expect it. Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.