The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning
Lily Marie Oswald

Name: Lily Oswald
Undergraduate Major: Planning, Public Policy and Management
Hometown: Durango, Colorado

How did you discover urban planning?  
In high school, I had an interest in architecture which evolved to an interest to do something “bigger picture” and in the public realm. When I was 15, a friend of mine and I were talking and she said that the things I was most passionate about exploring sounded like urban planning- which I hadn’t heard of before that point. After doing some personal exploration into what urban planning was and where I could potentially go with that field, I fell in love with the collaborative and creative, but analytical nature of planning.

Why did you choose the MCMP program at U of Utah?
I was interested in Salt Lake City because the area is experiencing tremendous growth, which will likely affect people and professionals of all scales. The (M)CMP program at the U is new enough to be flexible and on the front-lines of sustainability and creative planning and established enough to attract an amazing and interdisciplinary faculty and student body. This program has afforded me the opportunity to pursue my personal and professional goals while challenging myself with a cohort of other driven planners-to-be. Not to mention, I was excited to explore SLC’s mountains and surrounding open spaces the valley has to offer.

If you have done an internship, tell us about that experience.
In high school, I was a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee. I held an internship during this time at Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency, a non-profit emphasizing in resource management and weatherization. While I was in college I had an ongoing internship with the City Manager of Durango, Colorado. After dipping a few toes into the public realm, I worked as a Community Planner for two years at a private consulting firm where I focused on market analysis, municipal planning, GIS analysis, and main street planning among other things. Additionally, I worked as a Special Project Manager for a trails organization non-profit for several months before starting the MCMP program.

What are your career goals?
I am fortunate to have worked in the public, private, and non-profit sectors which makes honing in on a career path easier in some ways and potentially more daunting in others. I would love to use the experience and MCMP gained at the U to work in the public sector as a City Planner (I/II/III) of a “mid-size” mountain west municipality. I am interested in sustainable redevelopment and community engagement through locally-based capital improvements and ongoing economic independence and vitality initiatives. Ask me again in a year, and we’ll see if this career path has shifted!

Tell us one thing most people don’t know about you.
I completed my undergrad at the University of Oregon (‘sco ducks!) and began rowing for their club team my freshman year as a walk-on. I got recruited to row Division 1 for Saint Mary’s College of California my sophomore year after ranking among the top 8 female rowers on the west coast. Although this was an incredible experience, I ended up transferring back to Oregon to complete my undergrad with a degree in planning (and keep my back in working order)!