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Rey Hernandez

Public Policy and Urban Affairs

Los Angeles, CA
Anthropology & Sociology
Political Science
Public Policy & Urban Affairs
Study Abroad:
Caceres, Spain
Best Adjective to Describe You:

In 10 words or less, why should a student want to be involved in this department?
Urban environments are the breeding ground for social justice solutions.

What initially drew you to this department?  What keeps you coming back?
I grew up in the second largest city in the country so I’ve been exposed to a lot of the issues affecting urban environments today such as transportation, inequality, access to healthcare, etc. etc. In high school I went from wanting to be an engineer, then to an architect, and finally to an urban planner because I realized I like studying the sociology of cities and urban environments. I like how the PPUA department is very open to all majors/ interests and that I can combine my interests in ANSO and Poli Sci into one department.

What’s your biggest piece of advice to first years and sophomores in this department?
Try to take the required courses as early as possible, but don't feel that you are limited to those courses. I have used classes I’ve taken outside the list of required courses to fulfill the requirements because they are relevant to the department even if they are not listed on the website.

How does your department connect to your other interests and activities?
Some of the required classes for the PPUA concentration are in the Economics and Philosophy departments so thus I have been able to explore departments outside my major and engage in a true well rounded liberal arts education.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned at K?
Thinking outside the box (requirements) and learning to ask questions about said requirements. You´d be surprised how flexible and accommodating the school can be.

What has been your favorite class at K?  Why?
My favorite class at K was an Art History class: Architecture Urbanism and Identity taught by Christine Hahn (who is on sabbatical this year). The class was a mixture of students from all majors and years and we got to talk about the architecture of Kalamazoo and K itself and how that influences our understanding and experience of the environment around us. It was fascinating to hear different viewpoints about K from a diverse sample of students which is uncommon in other classes where the majority of students are in the major and hold similar views. At the end of the class we went to the then-under construction Arcus Center and toured the facility while having pizza.

What is your SIP?
My SIP was interning last summer at an employment placement program catered towards the gypsies in the town of Caceres, Spain. The gypsies in Spain are underrepresented in the Spanish workforce and this program helps them gain critical employment skills and find meaningful employment. I am interested as to how this program works and whether some of those strategies can be used in the US with our own disenfranchised communities.

What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
I want to go graduate school for my Master's in Urban Planning and Public Policy and eventually work for my hometown’s urban planning department, but first take a few gap years and work for the government or a non-profit while living in either the Midwest or East Coast.

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