The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning
Claudia Loayza

Name: Claudia Loayza 
Undergraduate Major: Exercise Science, Minor in Urban Planning 
Hometown: South Jordan, Utah 

How did you discover urban planning?
In one of my undergrad classes, I learned about the social determinants of health as key indicators of the quality of life of a person. City planning came up as a profession that dealt directly with the intersections of these determinants. The ability to influence so many systems at once through one line of work and study, really appealed to me. 

Why did you choose the MCMP program at U of Utah?
I was born and raised in Utah and feel that it is a thriving place for innovation. I am eager to center equity and racial justice in city planning to build the capacity for these innovations to benefit and equip all communities, especially those that have historically been disenfranchised. 

If you have done an internship, tell us about that experience.
A senior-capstone internship with the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs (MCA) turned into my full-time work for the last year and a half. My time with the division—a state agency specializing in policy and advocacy work for underrepresented communities—has so far been the most formative professional experience I’ve had. I have focused on addressing and bringing awareness to how racial inequities have far-reaching impacts on the health, safety, and quality of life of communities of color and other underrepresented groups. The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified these inequities, urging the work of city planners to take on a systemic and sustainable framework. 

Interested in learning more about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented communities? Check out the report I co-authored with the incredible MCA team.

What are your career goals?
My ultimate goal in becoming a city planner is to approach disparities through their intersections—namely through the social determinants of health and a racial justice lens. I believe specializing in housing & community planning will equip me with the skills I need to address said issues. 

Tell us one thing most people don’t know about you.
One of my dreams is to have brunch with Dolores Huerta, Rita Moreno, and Michelle Obama.