USC Price School of Public Policy

Price Student Q&A: Austin Chavira

Hometown: Manhattan Beach, CA
Major: Urban Planning

Q. What inspired you to choose your major?

A. I have always been fascinated with how cities develop and change overtime. My interest initially focused upon buildings and architecture but evolved into a more holistic fascination with transportation systems, gentrification, and incorporation of green space in urban areas. My interests have been on the total living experience in complex cities. When I first visited Zurich, I was amazed with all of the transportation options available for people to move humans around a city in contrast with an automobile dependent city like Los Angeles. Therefore, it was a revelation to me that USC had an Urban Planning major and many related courses in the Price School of Public Policy dedicated to my specific interests.

Q. What opportunities has Price afforded you?

A. The Price School has offered me the opportunity to take a very particular course of study which focuses on my city and my interests that combine urban planning, urban development, architecture, green construction, gentrification, and other related issues. While I am only in my second semester in this program, I have already had opportunities to explore downtown’s overheated development with Trojan alumni and have been able to attend various conferences held by real estate and urban planning professionals.

Q. What skills have you developed in your time at Price?

A. As a second semester Price student, I have the sense that the urban planning course offerings align completely with my interests and are helping me think more deeply about the issues that face large cities like Los Angeles.

Q. What class have you enjoyed most at Price and why?

A. PPD 245: The Urban Context for Policy and Planning. This course is the principle reason that I chose the Urban Planning major. I enjoyed researching and writing my term paper on the future of urban travel: people and goods. Professor Dowell Myers was an inspiring lecturer who piqued my interest to explore how to remedy congested urban areas through transportation.

Q. What are your future career plans?

A. While it is still early to define my specific future career interests in urban planning, I have identified an early interest in how cities improve their transportation infrastructure.

Q. What is the best advice anyone has given to you regarding your education?

A. Beyond my father’s sage advice, “Don’t F%&$ this up,” I believe the following is invaluable advice, “find a career that you are passionate about and you will lead a more fulfilling life.”