Letting Passion Drive Me Through the Unexpected

As you heard from the last blog post,  I am working with Danielle Rivera on her research in Puerto Rico. While I never pictured myself working as a research assistant, I absolutely love and am enthused by the work we are doing. Therefore, this job does not seem the least bit of a chore. Instead, I look forward to talking with her and collecting data, creating charts, and in general, researching. We are examining environmental justice and disaster gentrification in Post-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico. Last semester in my urban planning studio and courses, I learned about environmental justice. I didn’t know really anything about urban planning to be completely honest , and it shocked me. I found a passion within me that I never knew existed.

Currently, I am collecting data from a website on Puerto Rico power access, water access, and communication access. We are then analyzing this data to see where major changes in the access lie. Today, more than five months after the hurricane, approximately 20% of the population still does not have access to electricity.

Photocred: CBS News

By connecting this to social justice issues on the island, we are able to examine what could have been done better in urban planning aspects for Puerto Rico.

Danielle has several steps and goals outlined for this upcoming semester. I have only been working with her since January, but I have already learned so much from her, three lessons I outline below.

  1. Responsibility and self-motivation
  2. Passion outside of work
  3. Working towards the unknown.

Before this research, I considered myself responsible and self-motivated. Now, I realize how difficult it is to juggle school work, my research, and other jobs. I have to ensure that I work hard on research alongside my other responsibilities. While I love Environmental Design, I never did much reading or following of what was going on in the outside world. Danielle has motivated me to start reading books on environmental justice and staying up to date with current news in planning, which has changed my outlook on life already. Last, research is completely different than anything I’ve ever done. All of our studio design projects, we are told what the outcome should be: a greenhouse, a park, etc. However, with research, you don’t really know what the end outcome will be. Of course, you have a research question and an idea of what the outcome is, but it all depends on what the research and data, as well as current events, yield. While this has been a learning curve for me, I have enjoyed it more than I was ever expecting.

With a specialization in urban planning, I will be pursuing my honors thesis alongside continuing research with Danielle. If you ever have any questions or want to know more about research within ENVD, let me know! I love talking about it. 🙂

Until next time,