Several students graduated from the Regional + City Planning Masters program last spring. The RCPL program has an incredibly high placement rate for new graduates. Graduates quickly become leading practitioners in the field of urban planning. Some of the graduates from the spring are featured below. Read on to explore what they are doing now and how the RCPL program helped them achieve their goals.
Devon Westbrook, a spring graduate of the RCPL – Physical Planning track, has been employed in the Northern Oklahoma Development Authority’s transportation planning division (NORTPO) for two years conducting long-range transportation planning for the northwest region of the state. Following graduation, Devon was promoted from Transportation Planner to RTPO Director! Additionally, Devon passed the AICP certification exam and credits much of his success to RCPL faculty and curriculum for preparing him to achieve that certification.
He is thankful for the program’s PAB-accreditation because of the opportunity it affords graduates to advance more quickly with post-grad professional development. He says, “The OU RCPL program helped me become a more skilled regional planner and has given me the skills to be able to confidently move into urban planning as well.”
Following graduation, Dakota Desai was hired full-time at Smith Roberts Baldischwiler (SRB), a civil engineering firm in Oklahoma City that she interned at during her time in the RCPL program. She says, “While I was in the RCPL program at OU, I gained a foundational knowledge of the planning profession. I was brought into a network of peers and professionals and able to see a wide variety of planning career options. […] The program also prepared me for professional certification, as I passed the AICP exam in May and am now an AICP Candidate. I plan to continue working with SRB for the immediate future, continue growing my professional network in Oklahoma City, and put into practice the planning concepts I learned at OU.”
Ethan Mazzio is currently working with the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City on the OKC Rescue Program. The OKC Rescue program is a slate of small business and nonprofit assistance programs funded by the American Rescue Plan Act.
Mazzio is also working with the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for Quality Communities as a partner in the MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship. He explains that the fellowship, “is a program that takes a collection of mayors across the U.S., pairs them with leaders in urban design, planning, real estate, etc., and pushes their community projects forward with a restorative justice lens.” Mazzio hopes to soon become a planner in the City of Oklahoma City. He writes, “It’s a city I’ve come to love and want to invest in.”
When discussing the RCPL program, “I’m really thankful for having gone through the Master of Regional + City Planning program with the professors and colleagues I had. As I step into the professional workforce, I’m thankful for the skills, the relationships, and the experiences; but I feel truly empowered by the perspective I’ve developed. I don’t think it’s my job anymore to will beautiful places into existence, as much as that would maybe give me a greater sense of personal or professional fulfillment. I think it’s my job to acknowledge that there is an innate and disproportionate amount of civic power in the role of the urban planner, that it doesn’t belong to me, and that I have an obligation to distribute that power to the community I serve.”
Rebecca recently began her role as a Community Development Programs Manager at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. She writes, “I’m excited for the role and some of my work in the RCPL program helped me get this position. While being interviewed they asked to see samples of my work from classes like Economic Development and Urban and Regional Analysis. I feel like the RCPL program honed my writing and analysis skills and provided a kind and supportive community, and I am so grateful for my experience.”
Prior to entering the RCPL program, Rodney Gottschalk received a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering at the University of Oklahoma in 2018. After completing his undergraduate degree, he worked as a Data Consultant for an international firm and had the opportunity to travel and work both internationally and in various cities across the U.S. This experience helped him realize that he wanted to pursue an active role in shaping the future of Oklahoma, so after discovering OU’s RCPL program, he quickly applied.
After graduating from RCPL this past spring, Rodney accepted a job at the City of Tulsa in the Planning and Development Services Division as a Data Analyst. In addition to working for the City of Tulsa, he plans to pursue his AICP certification and continue to grow his expertise in actualizing data to help local decision makers. He writes that he would eventually like to start his own consulting firm that would work with cities in the Midwest Region.
He writes, “The faculty at OU helped me further my career goals and personal learning by introducing me to the nuts and bolts of planning as a profession. During my time at OU, I was fortunate to learn about how cities grow, how local governments are funded, the importance of planning with local communities, and techniques for helping communities actualize their visions for the future. While this isn’t a comprehensive list of the topics my peers and I were exposed to – it highlights the well-rounded approach of the program, which allows students to build skillsets that can be tailored to pursue their professional goals. I highly recommend this program and am excited to watch this profession grow!”
To learn more and apply for the OU Regional + City Planning program, visit rcpl.ou.edu.