What department are you a graduate student in?
I’m a graduate student in the Department of Urban Planning, with a specialization in Transportation.
Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
I decided to go to graduate school because after spending a couple of years doing media work after my undergraduate career (2018-2020), I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. I also received a life-changing health diagnosis of Crohn’s disease and Celiac’s, so I was rethinking my life decisions and choices a lot! I wanted a more engaging and practically applicable job environment, where I could work directly with the community around me and contribute to change. I’d been a bus rider for over a decade, dating back to middle school, so I had a particular fondness for public transportation and the good it provides towards sustaining a community. Naturally, the transportation specialization in DURP at FSU felt like a perfect match!
Did your interests change throughout your program?
Throughout my program my specific research interests developed into a more pronounced focus towards bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure planning. When I first entered the program, my primary interest was accessibility and paratransit (on-demand rides, typically for elderly and disabled populations), which I still care about deeply, but that has expanded now. Finding the intersection between these two interests is key, I think – both involve an overall increase of mobility to underserved groups of people.
What do you want to do with your advanced degree?
With my degree, I want to be a transportation planner! I am currently a Transit Fellow at StarMetro, and using this experience in combination with my classes has led to me wanting to follow this path. It’s less likely that I would get a position that’s narrowly focused on one of my specific research interests in the job environment, but that’s no problem – a significant appeal of Planning careers is the necessity of being involved in many different sorts of projects, both in the form of solo tasks, and collaboratively with other team members.
Alexander Austein is a Master’s student in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at FSU.