Michelle Navarro

Michelle Navarro

Degree: Master of Urban and Regional Planning

Graduation Date: June 2023

Hometown: San Diego

Tell us a bit about your background and path to the MURP program. 

I like to consider San Diego my hometown, even though I didn't officially move here until almost 19. I moved about every three years in my childhood due to my father's career in the military. But, every year, no matter where we currently lived, we would travel to San Diego and visit family. For that reason, it feels like home & that's why I decided to complete my undergraduate degree there. I started at San Diego Mesa Community College in 2014 and transferred to the University of California, San Diego, in 2017. I graduated in 2019, completing a Bachelor of Arts in Sociocultural Anthropology and a minor in Environmental Studies. 

What do you plan on doing with your degree?

I plan to find work as an Urban Planner, what specific role has yet to be determined. But, you bet I will always side with policies, plans, and companies that believe in the people's right to the city and a well-functioning urban ecosystem.

What do you like most about the MURP program? What in particular do you focus on? Are you currently involved in any big projects? Tell us about your progress. What do you hope to achieve through its completion? 

I feel fortunate that the MURP program allows flexibility in our research papers. Generally speaking, I take a humanist approach to urban planning. I focus on the urban quality of life- that is, the social acceptability, accessibility, accountability, and sustainability of public infrastructure, especially in our urban landscape. 

Currently, I am in Vienna, Austria completing some research for my Capstone project through NEURUS. Vienna is known as a 'smart' and 'green' city, with many awards for its high quality-of-life such as ranking number 1 on Mercer's list for ten consecutive years. (Learn more about Mercer here: Mercer study: quality of living — Vienna remains the number one). I hope to transmute lessons from Urban Greenery initiatives in Vienna (specifically District 5 Margareten and District 7 Neugau) back home to San Diego. It is a timely discussion in San Diego, as it is across the globe. 

Urban spaces like San Diego and Vienna are experiencing the consequences of climate change. As we move forward, we need to find better balance and sustainability in our urban landscape. Urban Greenery, in its various forms, has the potential to reduce the urban heat island effect, promote the ecological integrity of our local ecosystems and provide cultural and psychological services for our constituents. As San Diego is moving towards its climate action target date, it would be wise to take the Vienna lessons on quickly implementing pop-up interventions while more permanent solutions are secured.

You mentioned that you are currently studying abroad through the NEURUS program. What has your experience been like?

Although it is not cheap or easy to study abroad, NEURUS provides an excellent opportunity for passionate individuals to complete personalized research. It is a perfect opportunity to grow as a researcher, a professional, and an individual. I would recommend NEURUS to any MURP students. Zot Zot! Also, if anyone wants to get in touch with me about this or research, my LinkedIn profile is https://www.linkedin.com/in/mn2021/