Name: Brandon Siracuse
Undergraduate Major: Environmental Science
Hometown: Omaha, NE
How did you discover urban planning?
I’ve always been interested in cities and urban development, and I took an elective in college called “The Urban Crisis.” It was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken and it got me really interested in being a part of the solution to urban issues. I started looking into careers that would allow me to merge my interest in environmental science and urbanism, and somewhere along the way I came across urban planning. I knew almost right away that planning was the right career path for me.
Why did you choose the MCMP program at U of Utah?
The decision for me came down to funding and opportunities for career development. The U not only offered me a better funding package than any other program, they did so very early on in the process compared to other schools I was accepted to. There are also a ton of opportunities in the Salt Lake City area for internships and other career-building activities since the region is growing so quickly. Additionally, I attended the Graduate Experience Open House in March and found that the faculty seemed very supportive and highly experienced in their field, so it seemed like the type of learning environment I was looking for.
If you have done an internship, tell us about that experience.
I took about a year off from school after graduating from college in 2018, and during that time I had the opportunity to intern at the Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation (WUMCRC) in St. Louis. My work was really two internships combined into one: community development, and safety and security. The internship was mostly GIS work and data analysis to support the organization’s efforts to revitalize the St. Louis City neighborhoods surrounding Washington University’s medical campus. I made all sorts of maps, projected revenue for proposed special taxing districts, and compiled monthly neighborhood crime reports, among other things. I also was able to help organize community events such as National Night Out and a holiday outreach program for elderly and low-income neighborhood residents. During my time at WUMCRC I was able to experience planning from the perspective of both office work and direct community engagement, and the experience helped solidify my desire to go into the planning field.
What are your career goals?
I would like to go into transportation planning or community development. I would really like to return to St. Louis or somewhere else in the Midwest and preferably work in the public or non-profit sector, but I am keeping my options open.
What would you tell prospective students about the MCMP program?
If you are accepted to the program, come to the Graduate Experience open house if you are able! This is really the best way to find out if the program is right for you. Utah is a great place to live and study planning, and this becomes very apparent when you come see it all in person.
Tell us one thing most people don’t know about you.
I can play trombone, baritone, and tuba and I’ve performed in some pretty cool places before, including both the main stage and black box recital hall of the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha (known for world-class architecture and acoustics) and at the Alamo in San Antonio.