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Master of City and Regional Planning

David Hernandez Garcia

City planning brought us together under the broad idealism to make cities better for people and the environment, and to learn the methods and skills to make these dreams a reality. Each of us brought our experiences, along with an openness and yearning to learn and innovate in the tradition of MCP generations past and future; yet, our cohort's experience was like no other. I want to recognize our perseverance, generosity, and courage to meet this moment.

The Pandemic forced us to confront the most fundamental questions of where to go, what to do, and how to feel safe, all while still making it to class. We learned to appreciate the importance of our surroundings and our everyday interactions in a new way once we lost them. Systemic racism and inequity came into high relief with the deaths Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and many more. We continue to grieve the Pademic’s unequal impacts across our communities and the globe.

How did we get through it and rise to the occasion? The answer is each other. We organized and held spaces for solace and response. This included actions large and small, from opening our homes in times of crisis, to finding joy in films and walks, or simply offering each other grace. It continues to be hard, and easy to check out, but we do what we can. We also took it upon ourselves to agitate our own department and college to more aggressively tackle anti-racism throughout our discipline. Let's recognize our student leaders and community for carrying on the legacy we inherited from cohorts past and keeping our program's spirit going regardless of where we are.

To our faculty, you generously shared your brilliance and believed in our potential. You taught us to "see" people and history hidden in plain sight; and work with intention and precision to tell stories that hit with the force of sledge hammers. All of this while modeling how you bring your full selves to the work. We hope to carry on your legacy as we exercise our agency to dismantle inequitable systems brick by brick and through more radical action. With you, we confirmed that our community extends beyond those cement walls of Bauer Wurster through each of us and our relationships.

In closing, I never knew what it meant to feel like a "good fit" in an academic environment, or really in most places, until I came to our program. Even when life shouted in my face that I didn't belong, you all held me up, supported me, and made sure I knew I did. I thank you all for helping me see more potential in me than I had ever seen before. I hope we can continue to do this for each other beyond this experience and I call on you to share this power generously with others -- those who do not have the privilege of our degree and network, yet face hardships and needs beyond our own.