Price Student Q&A: Sarah Orcutt
Hometown: Bridgewater, MA
Major: Urban Studies and Planning with track in Environmental Public Policy
Q. What inspired you to choose your major?
A. I chose the Urban Studies and Planning major because of its combined public policy and technical focus. This major provides the skills needed to work in a diverse range of fields, and allows me to explore my interests in affordable housing, transportation, and environmental policy.
Q. What opportunities has Price afforded you?
A. Through my education and involvement at Price, I received an intern position with the Federal Highway Administration New York Division Office working in both the planning and environment departments. In this position I have had the opportunity to assist with Federal environmental policy reforms and oversight while gaining experience with the planning process at the Federal level.
Q. What skills have you developed in your time at Price?
A. As a Price major, I have developed and enhanced many soft skills such as communication, organization, and working alongside others. Additionally, I have gained problem-solving skills necessary to tackle the broad issues faced in the fields of policy and planning.
Q. Tell us about your internship experience.
A. My internship with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) New York Division Office has enhanced my passion for transportation planning and environmental public policy. In this position, I was able to leverage both my planning and environmental policy background gained at USC Price to fulfil my responsibilities. From a planning perspective, I helped review Air Quality Conformity Determinations from New York State MPOs, reviewed a State Enforcement Plan on Vehicle Size and Weight Regulations, and attended MPO policy and planning committee meetings. On the environmental side, I worked on improving existing Federal processes for environmental compliance within New York State, assisted with environmental reviews on major transportation projects, assisted in developing programmatic agreements, and lead meetings with various stakeholders on environmental compliance.
Q. What class have you enjoyed most at Price and why?
A. The PPD 360: Transportation Policy and Planning course was my favorite Price course because it allowed me to gain a stronger understanding of the different considerations and stakeholders involved in transportation projects. This course taught me to approach problems in transportation through multiple lenses, and helped me develop a new set of problem-solving skills that are transferable to many different sectors of the transportation field.
Q. What are your future career plans?
A. I hope to continue on to graduate school to earn a dual Masters degree in Planning and Natural Resources. I plan to initially work for the private sector in transportation or environmental consulting after graduate school, and then transition to the public sector working for the Federal Highway Administration or another branch of government focusing on transportation and environmental issues.
Q. What is the best advice anyone has given to you regarding your education?
A. The best advice I ever received regarding my education was to gain as much information and understanding on my career field as possible. Urban planning is a very broad field with many different specializations, and through reaching out to professionals for informational interviews, completing internships, and focusing on my courses I have been able to gain an accurate perspective of the everyday life of an urban planner. Through these experiences I have found my niche in both transportation and environment, which has helped me realize my goals for the long-term future.