2013-2014 MUP Graduates

The Department of Urban & Regional Planning congratulates all 2013-2014 MUP graduates. Graduates who have a  next to their name were members of the Urban Planning Coalition Executive Board. Graduates who have a  next to their name were members of Upsilon Rho Beta, an urban planning honor society.

Amanda Becker

Although Amanda received her BA in History from Sonoma State University in (SSU) in 2009, she fell in love with urban planning during her junior year studying abroad in South Africa.  Her time there made her realize the lasting role urban form plays in shaping people’s identities, opportunities and worldviews.  After graduating from SSU, Amanda earned her Geographic Information System (GIS) certificate from American River College in Sacramento, and worked as a GIS Student Assistant for the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (CVRWQCB).   In 2012, Amanda enrolled in San Jose State University’s Master of Urban Planning (MUP) program with a concentration in community development.  Since entering the program, she has been active both in and out of the classroom. As an active member of the department, Amanda served as the American Planning Association Northern California Section's Student Representative and as an Urban Planning Coalition Executive Board member.  Due to her academic excellence, Amanda was also invited to be a founding member of Upsilon Rho Beta Honor Society, Gamma Chapter.  Outside the MUP program, Amanda serves on the APA NorCal Local Host Committee planning mobile workshops for the 2015 California Conference. Additionally, she spent the summer of 2013 interning for the Menlo Park Office of Economic Development before being hired as a part-time Economic Development Specialist.  After graduation Amanda will begin a full time position as an Assistant Planner for the City of Menlo Park.  Amanda is looking forward to life after graduate school, which includes marrying her amazing and supportive fiancé, Andrew Wallace. 

Caitlin Campbell

Passionate for design and the outdoors, Caitlin earned her Bachelor degree in Landscape Architecture at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  During her studies at Cal Poly, she enrolled in classes within the City and Regional Planning Department to better understand the relationship between landscape design and planning.  Her interest in the planning world only grew from there.  After working in the private sector as a Landscape Designer, Caitlin was given the opportunity to travel abroad and study how other cities and countries were designed and planned.  That trip further solidified her desire to go back to school and, upon her return to the States, she enrolled into the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning Program at San Jose State.  While in the program, Caitlin specialized in community design and development so that she could learn and understand how people's lives shape and are shaped by their environments and design.  She landed an internship position within the Planning and Development department for the Port of San Francisco and had the opportunity to work on a variety of design and development projects along San Francisco's waterfront.  In June, Caitlin will be starting her new career as a Landscape Designer at Norris Design Landscape Interactive, a Landscape Architecture and Planning firm located in Austin, Texas that specializes in sustainable design.

Brent Carvalho

Brent Carvalho, a Bay Area native, born and raised in San Jose. Brent received his BA in Humanities from San Francisco State University with a minor in Human Sexuality Studies. In 2011 he became a U.C.C.E. Master Gardener for Santa Clara County and has since been actively involved in supporting the local food system. While studying in the MUP program he found a new passion in GIS and it's applications in urban planning. Brent is currently working with Garden to Table serving as the farm intern and also as a research assistant.

Sarah Corso

Sarah Corso has a Bachelor's Degree of Sociology, during which time she was honored as a Dean's Award Scholar. She also has a Master’s of Urban & Regional Planning and hopes to use both degrees to better understand and improve social conditions of Californian cities. She has worked for multiple municipalities in the fields of economic and community development, environmental outreach and public works safety and training. While she does not know where life will lead her as she is opening many doors to many possibilities, she knows that she has and will continue to develop tools and skills that will make her successful throughout life. 

Greg Currey

Greg Currey grew up in Vacaville and went to undergrad at San Francisco State University, where he got his B.A. in History, with a minor in Spanish. After college, he moved to San Jose to do two years of full-time community service with AmeriCorps. Fascinated by how three cities in the same region could be so different, he decided to return to school to get his Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree, at San Jose State, with an emphasis in Land Use and Transportation Planning. Greg completed the program and received his degree in December, 2013, writing his final planning report on parking minimums for new development in San Jose’s Diridon Station area. While in the program, Greg worked for CommUniverCity, supporting community assessment work and urban agriculture. He also interned for SPUR, helping to write a paper on VTA. He has recently begun working as a policy intern with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. 

Samantha Dolgoff

Samantha received her B.S. in Environmental Science from Trinity College in Connecticut. Before deciding to pursue her master of Urban and Regional Planning, she lived in New York City, where she learned the importance of balancing density and livability to achieve positive environmental and social outcomes. During her time at San Jose State she has concentrated on making urban places livable and ecologically sound. She was a contributing author for the complete streets audit of the West San Carlos and South Bascom corridors, an essential preliminary step towards the San Jose Urban Village planning process. She also finalized the editing and design for the American Planning Association award winning Spartan Keyes Assessment and Community Engagement Report. Her thesis analyzed and proposed recommendations for zoning and food policy councils to improve food security for low income residents in Richmond, California. While pursuing her coursework, Samantha also held a summer internship with the San Francisco Planning Department working on sustainable food systems and transportation impacts. She currently holds Planning Assistant positions at the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department in the Capital Division Planning Unit and the Berkeley Department of Public Works Transportation Division for Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs. With her Masters from SJSU, Samantha hopes to reduce human impact on climate and to achieve greater social equity across our communities.     

Meghan Hade

Meghan earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interest in environmental psychology, design and large-scale systems led her to study urban planning at SJSU. As a student, she was a Research Assistant for the department's Real Estate Development program, a Graduate Student Assistant to the University-affiliated nonprofit CommUniverCity, and a Teaching Assistant for the Industrial Design Department class Design for All. She served as the Vice President of the Urban Planning Coalition and was a recipient of the SJSU Graduate Equity Fellowship scholarship as well as an OpenStreetMap scholarship. She worked as the GIS Intern for the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, Trail Development Intern for Specialized Bicycle Components, GIS and Planning Intern for the City of Emeryville Planning and Building Department, and Urban Design & Public Realm Intern for SPUR. At SPUR, she contributed to "Getting to Great Places: How better urban design will strengthen San Jose's future," a report published in December, 2013. Her data visualization project,"#Occupy: Visualizing the Occupy Movement through Twitter Geotags", was published in the Bay Area Automated Mapping Association Journal in April, 2013. She currently interns for the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department Capital and Planning Division, and for Flux, a start-up creating software for planners, architects and real estate developers. After graduation, Meghan will spend the summer as a software engineering fellow at Hackbright Academy in San Francisco, after which she will pursue a career working at the intersection of planning, design, and technology. She would like to thank her Mom, Dad, Corey and Anne for their unfaltering support and encouragement. 

Alvin Jen

Alvin was born and raised in San Francisco, California by parents Abraham and Susie Jen.  He is the proud brother of Dr. Connie Ng, brother-in-law to Dr. Kit Ng and uncle to Noelle. Alvin was drawn to urban planning because of its multi-disciplinary nature, making it both dynamic and community-oriented.  During his time at San Jose State University, Alvin served as the Alumni Liaison for the Urban Planning Coalition, contributing graphic design work including a re-design of the UPC logo.  Currently, he is an intern for the Town of Portola Valley, where he assists with planning, public works and sustainability projects.  Alvin is also a passionate sports fan who roots for his alma mater, the University of Colorado Buffaloes, as well as the San Francisco Giants, 49ers, Golden State Warriors, and San Jose Sharks.  In his research report, Alvin brings together his interest in sports, planning, urban design, affordable housing and community development with a redevelopment proposal for the former home of the 49ers – Candlestick Park - into a walkable, mix-used neighborhood using a SmartCode application. 

Benson Kwong

Benson earned a BA in Urban Studies from UC Berkeley. After working for a transportation consulting firm in Los Angeles, he decided to further his education in the planning field to refine old skills and learn new ones. Having had a life-long passion for passenger rail, Benson’s thesis report analyzed Amtrak’s route configuration and how it could be modified to better reflect market demand. This culminating experience allowed him the opportunity to apply much of the skills and knowledge he acquired from the MURP program to promote an improved passenger rail system in America. Benson is currently interning in the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s Service & Operations Planning Department, helping maintain a safe, efficient, and attractive transit system. He envisions a career in the transportation planning field, working to improve mobility through integrated, multimodal transportation systems. 

Grant Leonard

A native of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Silicon Valley, Grant Leonard currently lives in Monterey County and is employed as an Assistant Planner for the Transportation Agency for Monterey County. Growing up in the countryside, Grant found himself paradoxically interested in cities, an interest that led him to study urban planning at San Jose State University. With a specialization in Community Design and Development, Grant focused his studies at the Urban and Regional Planning department on affordable housing and planning for the homeless. Grant’s culminating report for the MUP program analyzed chronic homelessness in Salinas, CA, and explored ways to better plan for the city’s chronically homeless. 

Jovan Ludovice

Jovan’s interest in spatial inequality and concentrated poverty led him to pursue his graduation degree in urban planning. Jovan received his degrees in finance and economics from the University of Washington in Seattle and has worked in various capacities helping revitalize distressed neighborhoods in Richmond, Oakland, and Vallejo. With the support and guidance of his professors at SJSU, Jovan will be continuing his education at the Ph.D. level where he hopes to conduct research that advances social, racial, and economic equality in urban planning. 

Joel Manning 

Despite growing up in the urban planning wonderland of Portland, Oregon, Joel was unfamiliar with the field until just few years ago when, after living along a dismal East Bay street, he began to experience firsthand the connection between the built environment—especially pedestrian infrastructure—and local quality of life. This experience provided much of Joel’s motivation to specialize in Transportation & Land Use while in the MUP program as well as conduct a case study on sidewalk provision and quality in Fremont for his Professional Planning Report. However, Joel attributes his underlying passion for transportation to his car enthusiast father, Jerry, who was an auto mechanic when Joel was young, and who passed away before seeing Joel complete the program. Prior to entering the MUP program, Joel graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and then spent the next decade working in a wide variety of religious, corporate, and academic settings in the Bay Area. He’s excited about the doors his degree will open and being able to now focus on improving the quality of life of others. Joel is grateful for his time in the MUP program and will miss his classmates, professors, and the academic rigor. He is especially thankful for the support he has received from his wife (and secret academic weapon), Annie, and from his advisor, Dr. Hilary Nixon. 

Erum Maqbool

Erum received her bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the prestigious National College of Arts – Lahore, Pakistan in 2006 and even before finishing her degree she was recruited by her Head of Department (HOD) as an Intern Architect. She gained most of her architectural experience while creating plans for buildings with USAID in the aftermath of massive 2005 earth quake that struck the region of Azad Kashmir. The importance of urban planning dawned upon her while working in the earth quake region which eventually led her to the Masters of Urban Planning (MUP) Program at San José State University. Due to her sound background in Architecture, Erum has a deep interest in learning new softwares therefore she took Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for beginners and Advance GIS for Urban Planners as two of her four electives. Utilizing her GIS skills she is working as a Research Assistant for a study that measures the impact of school district quality on housing values in Alameda County, California. In the future she hopes to apply her mapping knowledge and GIS skills for projects related to sustainability and affordable housing. 

David McCormic

A graduate of UMass Amherst, David earned a B.S. in Environmental Design, before moving to the Bay Area for San Jose State’s MUP program. Currently working in the capital team at San Jose’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services, David applies skills honed in the MUP program to complex multi-million dollar park projects. During his tenure at SJSU, David worked with Rick Kos on GIS mapping for the Ecologic Institute’s annual ‘Sustainable San Mateo Indicators Report’. He is also volunteering with the International Institute for Sustainable Transportation (INIST) to incorporate cutting edge ATN ‘pod car’ technology into an urban design model for San Jose’s Almaden / Oakridge urban village. Looking forward to an exciting future in all aspects of planning and urban design, David is inspired by his wife Cathryn, his Shih Tzu Bella, and their beautiful 5 month old, Makayla.  

Tracy Minicucci

Tracy grew up in Sacramento and went to UC Santa Cruz where she received a Bachelor’s in Theater Arts and Film. She spent the next 15 years playing live music while cooking for a living. After 15 years in the culinary arts she decided to go back to school and switch career paths. While visiting Portland Oregon she discovered the beauty of well-planned bicycle infrastructure and ended up applying for the Masters of Urban Planning Program at San Jose State the following year. While at SJSU her focus was in transportation and her thesis dealt with BART's readiness to accommodate cyclists in Oakland in the next 10 years. She interned at a non-profit in San Jose Garden To Table where she assisted another SJSU grad, Zach Lewis, with efforts to update San Jose's urban agriculture code. Tracy's planning related goals include helping the Bay Area plan for a less auto reliant future and retrofitting suburban areas to support and encourage active modes of transportation. 

Sean Mullin

Originally from San José, Sean earned his Bachelor of Arts in Geography from the University of California at Santa Barbara, specializing in Geographic Information Systems and Cartography. After receiving his BA, Sean worked as a professional cartographer for more than 8 years before deciding to pursue his Master of Urban Planning degree. Sean continued to work as a Senior Cartographer while pursuing his MUP and interning with the Town of Woodside, where he worked on the 2012 General Plan Update, 2012 Residential Design Guidelines update, and associated amendments to the Town’s Municipal Code. Sean was hired in 2013 by the Town as a full-time Assistant Planner where he continues to work today. In 2013, Sean was awarded the California Planning Foundation (CPF) Continuing Student Fellowship for his academic performance and professional promise. He looks forward to continuing his career and returning to “non-graduate school” life, raising a family with his beautiful wife Natalie, and spending his free time riding and racing mountain bikes, brewing beers and ciders, and tending to his garden.

Binh Nguyen

After graduating from the University of San Francisco with a BA in Sociology, Binh worked at the San Francisco Department of Public Health for five years before pursuing his interest in urban Planning and applying to the MUP program at San Jose State University. He was a recipient of the 2013-2014 SJSU Graduate Equity Fellowship. Binh plans to blend his interest in urban planning with his knowledge of public health to build smarter and healthier communities as part of his future career goals.

Devin O'Brien

Devin O’Brien grew up in Sonoma and Napa counties and spent five years in the Marine Corps.  He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Economics from Sonoma State University in 2010.  In San Jose State’s Urban Planning program he has focused on GIS and mapping.  In this program, he has worked on GIS projects for Sustainable San Mateo, San Jose’s Washington neighborhood and solar development in Santa Clara County.  He looks forward to a career serving the bay area, a region that he explores and enjoys on his mountain bike every weekend. 

Malahat Owrang

Malahat Owrang received her bachelor’s in urban studies from Tehran University of Art, School of Architecture and Planning. After one year working as an assistant planner in a consultant company in Tehran she decided to pursue her master’s degree. She decided to study and learn about disaster management, one of the main planning challenges in her country. She received her master’s in urban studies with an emphasis in post-disaster reconstructions. After immigration to the United States, Malahat decided to continue her education in urban planning in San Jose State University and learn about her favorite career field, Transportation Planning. Malahat’s first internship was with City of Sunnyvale, Housing Division. In summer 2013 Malahat get one step closer to her dream career as a transportation planner. Since then she is interning with Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). In VTA she is working with long-range planning team where she had the chance to learn and work on the countywide congestion management programs and the active transportation plans. Malahat hopes to work as a transportation planner in a Bay Area public agency.

Adam Paranial

Adam Paranial earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Planning from Sonoma State University. After graduation, he was dedicated to continuing his planning education in order to improve built and natural environments, and eventually enrolled in the MUP program at San Jose State University. Since joining the program Adam has been an active member of the department and campus community. As a student transportation coordinator with Transportation Solutions he assisted the San Jose State community in their sustainable transportation efforts. Additionally, serving as UPC Vice President, Adam worked with other Executive Board members to create a welcoming and fun educational environment. With a keen interest in all planning fields, Adam’s Master’s degree project focused on brew pub and microbrewery development in the City of San Jose. He looks forward to continuing this research, especially with the friends and family who have supported him throughout his educational journey.  

Janice Perez

Janice Perez previously attended UC Davis as an undergraduate, earning a BS in Landscape Architecture. Her interest in urban planning sprouted from her desire to plan quality neighborhood parks for urban communities. Her previous work with KaBOOM! allowed her to travel and engage communities through building playgrounds for underserved children across the country. She has also previously interned with the County of San Mateo Parks Department where she began a pilot redesign of their trail wayfinding signage. She is fond of using her newly acquired cartographic skills to create visually appealing and storytelling maps. She currently works for the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Planning Division where she uses GIS to conduct data analysis to inform decision making for park improvements. Her Master’s thesis focused on using GIS to improve “play desert” mapping methods to provide better analysis of where active play spaces are needed. Janice is an avid park explorer, an enthusiastic cartographer, and hopes to dedicate her career to improving open space.

Diana Ramirez

Diana Ramirez joined Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley (NHSSV) in 2012 as a Community Building and Organizing Specialist and in 2013 was promoted to Community Development Assistant working directly with the Executive Director. She supports the organization’s highest priorities including leading fund development activities through grant writing, donor development, and event planning. Recent accomplishments include increasing the profile of the annual Neighborhood Development Training Conference at San Jose State University and fully funding the Responsible Landlord Engagement Initiative by winning Citi Foundation’s Innovation Award of $250,000. Diana earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Fresno State University and received her Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from San Jose State University. As part of establishing herself as housing and community development leader, she has begun to develop a time and stress management training workshop to assist high school and college students with their education and career goals. 

Emma Reed

Emma holds a Bachelor's degree in Urban Studies and Planning from the University of California, San Diego and a Certificate in GIS and Spatial Analysis. She is also working toward a Certificate in Homeland Security and Emergency Management through the University of California, Los Angeles Extension, which she aims to complete this December. She has been interning at San Jose City Hall in the Environmental Services Department since October where she is responsible for GIS mapping and database management as these tasks pertain to the City's "Blight Pilot" program. Previously, Emma worked as the campus Continuity Planner for the University of California, San Diego and the Emergency Management Intern for the City of Sunnyvale's Department of Public Safety. She has also served as an executive board member for San Jose State's Urban Planning Coalition since Spring 2013. She hopes to soon find a job that will allow her to combine her urban planning skills with her keen interest in hazard mitigation to build resilient cities.

Denise Russell 

Denise earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara, where a course in Environmental Planning inspired her to pursue her Masters degree in Urban Planning.  Motivated by her interest in the connection between sustainability and the built environment, she recognized the importance of smart planning in reducing our cities’ impact on climate change.  Through professional experiences with the County of San Diego’s Public Health Department, a storm water consulting company, and the City of Sunnyvale’s Housing Division, she gained a breadth of knowledge that will continue to serve her in her career.  Going forward, she hopes to use the skills she learned in the MUP program to work as an environmental planner, and help make a difference in California.

Lauren Seyda 

Lauren received a BA in Geography and Resource Management from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. Following her degree, Lauren tried her hand at science education at the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife, fish biology at the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, and business planning and science curriculum development at a small consulting firm. She then discovered that the diverse field of Planning pieced together all of her interests and experience. After several years cultivating her interest in bike and pedestrian planning in Portland, Oregon, she moved to Oakland, began graduate school, and worked in the Planning Department for the City of San Pablo. She is now a Planning Technician for the City of Piedmont.

Kim Thai

Kim received her a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Economics and Policy and Bachelor of Arts degree in Development Studies from UC Berkeley in 2011. Her interests in water, environmental planning, and community planning stem from a study abroad trip to Laos. While there, she witnessed the impacts of hydroelectric dams on the livelihoods of fishermen, and the lack of transparency and community engagement in the development of those dams. She has brought back what she learned from this experience into San Jose neighborhoods in her work with the City of San Jose’s Environmental Services Department to inform residents and students on watershed health and engage the community in creek stewardship. Her involvement with environmental planners from the City of San Jose motivated her to pursue a Masters in Urban Planning degree from San Jose State University. She looks forward to contributing to the environmental planning field.

Lola Torney

Lola Torney received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning from UC Davis. After graduation, she worked for the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies primarily working on transportation modeling and GIS. She decided she would rather work with the public rather than sit in front of a computer screen, so she moved to San José to pursue her Master’s degree. During her graduate student career at SJSU, Lola interned with the Sierra Club and the City of San José Department of Transportation and also served as the UPC President. Lola would like to thank her loved ones for their understanding when she had to miss birthdays and get-togethers during the last two years as well as the fellow UPC Board members for all their hard work and commitment to UPC and the MUP department. 

Regina Valentine

Regina Valentine received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, Technology, and Policy from California State University Monterey Bay.  After being introduced to the planning profession through an internship with the Council of San Benito County Governments, she went on to pursue a Masters in Urban Planning. Working with the City of Hollister, Regina initiated and completed assessments of two major corridors identifying projects needed to make the streets more accessible to all users regardless of mode or ability as her Master’s Project. Her final report is being used by the City of Hollister in their planning efforts for a complete streets corridor study of Tres Pinos Road and McCray Street funded by a Caltrans Environmental Justice Planning Grant. Regina is still interning with the Council of San Benito County Governments and is eager to contribute to thoughtful, sustainable, long-term planning to improve quality of life environmentally, economically and socially. Regina is appreciative for her family and friends for being so understanding of her limited availability during the pursuit of her education.   

Jacqueline Vance

Jacqueline received her BS in Business Administration, and fell in love with planning when she explored the field through a Professional Certificate program in Sustainable Development. While pursuing her Masters of Urban Planning degree at San Jose State, she focused her studies on technology in planning and environmental planning. Her thesis analyzed the correlation between user behavior and urban design along San Francisco's Embarcadero Promenade, which provided insight into public space planning and the challenges associated with these types of spaces, particularly along such a highly-used urban waterfront destination. She hopes that these findings will aid the Port of San Francisco in anticipating future needs along San Francisco's waterfront, and enable them to make plans and decisions backed by research. For the past two years, Jacqueline has worked in the Port's Planning & Development division, engaging in a variety of public planning processes with various agencies and a diverse set of waterfront stakeholders. She recently accepted a new opportunity with the City of Sausalito's Community Development Department, and looks forward to a challenging career in the public sector.

Riley Weissenborn

Riley Weissenborn received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in Urban Studies and Planning. During his time there, he took several courses which focused on housing and community development, which eventually sparked his interest to pursue a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning. His first internship while at San Jose State University was with Housing Choices Coalition (HCC), a non-profit which helped individuals and families with developmental disabilities find affordable housing. After a year with HCC, and eager to understand the development side of affordable housing, Riley obtained his second internship with MidPen Housing, one of the largest affordable housing developers in the Bay Area. Following graduation, Riley will begin working full time with MidPen Housing as an Associate Project Manager. Riley would like to give a special thank you to his wife Sophie, for not letting him turn into a crazy person while completing his Master’s thesis.  

Mark Young

Mark literally entered the Department of Urban and Regional Planning by accident. During his final semester as an undergraduate, Mark found himself in need of several units to be a “full-time” student. To rectify this, Mark cavalierly strolled into the Local Transportation Planning course (some two hours late) and demanded an “add” code from the professor. Similarly, the only reason why Mark elected to enroll within the Urban and Regional Development Policy Analysis course was because that course was held in the same classroom as the Local Transportation Planning course and he did not want to leave his comfortable chair. Despite these inauspicious beginnings, Mark soon found himself quite entranced by the Planning profession, and a year later, applied for formal admission as a Master of Urban Planning candidate, much to the chagrin of the Department’s faculty. In addition to Renoir, Steinbeck, and Vivaldi, Mark enjoys studying the complex interactions between land uses and transportation, and despite having spent almost six years in public service for three separate governmental agencies, Mark intends to continue working in the public sector, as he enjoys knowing that his work directly benefits the public and society.