Q&A with past Charles Eliot Scholarship recipient

It’s that time of year again, when MAPC puts out a call for applications for our Charles Eliot Scholarship, awarded annually to a senior in a secondary school in the MAPC region who intends to study a planning-related field in college.

Allison Phillips, a Junior studying Environmental Design at UMass Amherst, filled us in on the path she’s been taking since receiving our Charles Eliot Scholarship in 2010:

1. What are you currently studying in school?

I came into UMass Amherst declared as a Landscape Architecture major, and stayed in that major for my first two years. At the beginning of my junior year (this year), I chose to switch into the Environmental Design major, with a concentration in horticulture.

2. How did you decide what you wanted to study?

I was first introduced to the Landscape Architecture field by my brother-in-law, who graduated from the UMass Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning department in 2007. He noticed my passion for art as well as for the outdoors and during my junior year of high school, he brought me to UMass Amherst and showed me around the LARP department.

After visiting the school, I decided immediately that I wanted to be a part of the Landscape Architecture major, and applied early decision to UMass. After two years of being in the major, I decided that the very closely related major of Environmental Design would be a better fit for me, and I switched.

I felt as though the Landscape Architecture program was no longer the right field for me because the field is transitioning from a hand drawn art and drafting base to a computer animated design base, and I realized that I definitely do not want to pursue a job in which the majority of the work will be required to be done with a computer.

my favorite classes have had the theme of sustainability, especially in regards to human behavior and patterns, and the incorporation of some form of artwork

3.   What is your favorite class/subject/student group

I have really enjoyed every single one of the classes that I have taken as a requirement for my major. (Many of the Landscape Architecture requirements are the same as Environmental Design).

Though I do not have a specific class that has been my favorite, two things that all of my favorite classes have had in common are the theme of sustainability, especially in regards to human behavior and patterns, and the incorporation of some form of artwork. Some of these classes have included Sustainable Cities, City Planning, Patterns and Processes in the Landscape, Writing in Environmental Design, and Graphics in Environmental Design. I also really loved the studio classes that I took while in the Landscape Architecture major, because we got to design and build our own creations.

4.   What do you hope to do in the future as part of your career?

At this point in my life I am still very unsure as to what exactly I would like to do with my degree, but I do know that I would definitely like my future job to involve some form art, themes of sustainability, and hopefully it will be some kind of public government position, like working for a city or town.

5.   Any advice to high school students who are considering going into the planning field?

My advice for students considering going into the planning field would be for them to not pay attention to what people say about the current job market, or make any big decisions regarding whatever state it may be in, and just stick to pursuing whatever field concentration makes them happy.

I say this because students are definitely confronted with a lot of positive and negative encouragement to pursue a generally lucrative or easy major, and more often than not, people forget the importance of finding a field that makes them happy. So in short, I guess I would just say; try to remember to stick to your gut instinct.

Check out some examples of Alison’s school projects below!

Do you know a student who might be interested in receiving $500 towards their college tuition? Spread the word–applications are due April 26, 2013!