Edith D. Huarita


Degree: Ph.D. in Planning, Policy and Design

Graduated: 2021

Hometown: La Paz, Bolivia and Seattle, Washington

Why did you choose the School of Social Ecology?

I was drawn to the school’s interdisciplinary approach to research and appreciated that it offered doctorate programs where it would allow me the flexibility and freedom to take classes from other disciplines such as sociology and anthropology.

How did you grow interested in your current field of study?

It began when I took some urban planning graduate classes at UCLA while working on my professional master’s degree in public policy (MPP). I was very interested in learning more about housing policy, but UCLA did not offer any “housing policy” classes. The urban planning program at UCLA offered classes on housing market and real estate that was related to policy. I learned a lot from their classes about the field of urban planning and decided to pursue a Ph.D. in the field. When I came to UCI, I was happy to see that there was a housing policy class offered by Dr. Victoria Basolo, who is now my advisor.

What has been your most memorable or significant experience so far at UCI?

I have several. My first memorable experience is when I found out that I got accepted to UCI. I was on the road on my way to Fresno, California (on the passenger’s seat) and upon reading the acceptance email that detailed the financial support, I remember I couldn’t contain my excitement. Even though I was waiting to hear from other schools, I knew immediately that I wanted to go to UCI. The second memorable experience was when my advisor had broken the news that I will be co-authoring a chapter of a book on a topic that I am most passionate about: substandard housing issues in Los Angeles. Also, and most recently, when I successfully advanced to candidacy. I was truly touched and humbled by the support of my advisor, faculty, and colleagues throughout the entire process of putting together a proposal for my thesis.

How do you envision your degree from UCI opening doors for you or benefitting your career?

It’s really hard to envision future-wise as I have been so used to living in the moment and because I consider UCI my academic home, which might make it hard to leave. However, I do hope that whatever door or doors open for me after completing my doctoral degree, I will be able to both teach and research. I continue to dream to do research overseas during the summers and take students with me to inspire them to be agents of change through research.