Student Spotlight: Jamie Roberts
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“My interest in transportation planning was born from my concern for both human and environmental health during my undergraduate career. From both of those perspectives, I was consistently coming to the same conclusion; if we change the way we think about transportation, it can change the world,” shared Jamie Roberts. After continued research in transit, bikeability, and walkability from the lens of both human and environmental health, planning student Jamie Roberts realized that transportation planning was the field where he could have the most influence.

Jamie recently received her master’s degree in City and Regional Planning with a focus in Transportation Planning at The Ohio State University. While earning her degree she worked as a Capital Projects and Planning Intern at the Central Ohio Transit Authority. Prior to graduation, Jamie helped with the implementation of the Transit System Redesign (TSR), an initiative that completely updated the transit system to be more efficient.

Jamie is currently working in the Washington D.C. metro region for Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning. Foursquare ITP is a multi-modal transportation planning firm focused on providing innovative transportation solutions that are practical, focused, and implementable.

“I always hope to practice what I preach and truly understand the challenges that I work to fix,” shared Jamie. “In 2011, I sold my car and I have experienced firsthand what equitable and useful transit feels like and the consequences when it does not exist.” Jamie has experienced both efficient and chaotic transportation systems in US cities and has twice traveled to Taiwan in order to study their dynamic mass transit systems. From these experiences, Jamie knows that the advancement in transportation technology will begin to reshape cities. In order to make sure that our cities remain multimodal and equitable spaces, Jamie believes that active transportation and mass transit activists will have to readdress how they frame these options.

“I trust that we can change the discourse around transportation and change how we look at our built environment related to our health and sustainability,” commented Jamie. “I plan to dedicate my career to ensuring this happens.”

We recently caught up with Jamie and here is more from our conversation …

Q: Which ACSP member school did you attend?
A: The Ohio State University

Q: What specialty did you study?
A: Transportation Planning

Q: Why did you select your particular specialty?
A: I chose this specialty because I believe I can have a meaningful impact on the health, sustainability, and character of our communities by advocating for equitable, multi-modal, transportation networks.

Q: Do you have a current job or internship in your specialty?
A: I am currently a Transportation Planner with Foursquare ITP.

Q: Is there a particular class or professor that has made a great impact on you? How so?
A: I traveled to Taiwan twice as part of a study abroad, transportation workshop through The Ohio State University. This workshop is led by Kyle Ezell who was also my professor for an Innovations in Planning course. Professor Ezell gave me the confidence and space to explore my passion for transit and to share it with others. During the 2017 trip to Taiwan, Professor Ezell asked me to present my independent study on a transit map to Taiwanese students and professors. This allowed me to receive amazing feedback from experienced educators as well as planning students who live a very multi-modal life in a fast-paced city. Taiwan's transportation system inspired me to do everything I can to make transit in the United States more efficient.

Q: What's your favorite project you’ve worked on, in class or in practice?
A: My favorite project was my independent study on redesigning Central Ohio's bus maps. One other student and myself researched ease-of-use in both subway and bus maps and worked to redesign the bus maps following our new guidelines to make navigating the bus network more efficient for both residents and visitors.

Q: What future goals do you have in your field?
A: I hope to be an activist for multi-modal transportation while working on projects in as many communities as I can. I had always hoped to join a consulting team that focuses on the sustainable transportation that I care so much about, and I have done that.

Q: How has planning school changed your daily habits?
A: Planning school changed the way I communicate and the way I interpret everyday problems. For example, I see a broken side-walk in a new way now; I see it as an accessibility issue, as an equity issue, and as a city budget issue, when before I only saw a broken piece of concrete.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: An artist

Q: How many different cities have you lived in and which was your favorite?
A: I recently moved to Maryland, and I have lived in a few Ohio cities. Of these, Athens, Ohio, is my favorite.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
A: After experiencing amazing cities in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, I think my next big adventure will be Hong Kong. I love experiencing Asian transit systems and the people and food have never disappointed me.

Q: What is the title of the last book you read? What did you learn from it?
A: The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why, by Amanda Ripley. I learned that training for and understanding our reactions to disasters can make a huge difference in saving your own life and the lives of others in a major event.

Q: What’s your favorite color and how would you creatively incorporate it into a planning project?
A: My favorite color is blue which represents life for me because it is the color of water. I would integrate this color into a planning project by using it on surfaces that aren't typically calming or full of “life,” such as a side-walk or parking meter.

Q: Do you have any advice for planning students?
A: You really do use statistics outside of school, so pay attention. Travel as much as you can, domestically and abroad, it’s the best way to learn great planning tools.

Mission

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning promotes education, research, service and outreach in the United States and throughout the world by seeking to:

  • recognize diverse needs and interests in planning;
  • improve and enhance the accreditation process, and;
  • strengthen the role of planning education in colleges and universities through publications, conferences, and community engagement;
  • extend planning beyond the classroom into the world of practice.

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