Student ambassadors standing in front of West Architecture

Meet Our Student Ambassadors

Meet Our Student Ambassadors

Would you like to ask a student questions about attending Georgia Tech for graduate school? Our 2023 Student Ambassadors volunteer to serve for the year and are a resource for prospective students. Please feel free to contact any of the below students with questions about life in the School of City & Regional Planning or Atlanta.

Abhilasha Kumar

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Hometown: Delhi, India
Pursued Degree(s): Master of Urban Analytics
Talk to Me About: Immigration, Transportation Planning, Data Analysis, Choosing Classes

Abhilaha is a first year Master of Urban Analytics student hailing from India. Abhi has her undergrad in architecture and first masters in urban planning.  Her main interest lies in transport planning and the data analysis that surrounds it. 

Alaina Van Slooten

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Hometown: Tolland, CT
Pursued Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
MCRP Specialization: Environment and Health
Talk to Me About: Moving to Atlanta, coming back to school after working, interests in climate and sustainability

Alaina studied Environmental Science at Northeastern University in Boston. After graduating, she worked in urban sustainability at The Nature Conservancy in New York City with a focus on the urban forest. Around this time, she was drawn to urban planning as an interdisciplinary way to combine broad interests in climate adaptation and resilience, GIS and analytics, equity and justice, and local history. She joined the MCRP program in Fall 2022, and is specializing in Environment and Health. Outside of school, she loves to hike, cook, find new places to eat, and explore the city on foot, bike, and transit!

Bill Huang

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Hometown: Peachtree Corners, GA
Pursued Degree(s): Master of Urban Analytics
Talk to Me About: Succeeding at Tech with a Healthy Lifestyle, Living in Atlanta Area, Technology intersection with planning

Growing up within and in the surrounding suburbs of Atlanta, Bill has made Atlanta his home base. He enjoys discovering different aspects of Atlanta's diverse community. He has been at Tech for 6 years within which he has obtained a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and is currently pursuing a Masters of Urban Analytics. He is interested in leveraging quantitative methods to create better implementable systems(housing, legal, economic) for everyday people in cities. He specializes in data systems, coding, and housing. His previous experience includes working on sustainable energy development for the Center for Sustainable Cities, in housing for the City of Atlanta Planning Department Office of Housing and Community Development, and manufacturing engineering. In his free time, Bill cycles and eats his around Atlanta, plays video and board games with friends, and serves the Cobb County community through his church.

Claire Breeden

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Hometown: Sarasota, Florida
Pursued Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP); M.S. in Geographic Information Science & Technology (MS-GIST)
MCRP Specialization: Housing and Community Development
Talk to Me About: Dual MCRP/MSGIST degree, balancing a GRA and courses, life in Atlanta, SPA

Claire graduated from the University of Tampa with a B.S. in Economics and a minor in Geography. After graduating in 2021 during the pandemic she spent a year as a Geospatial Analyst for an engineering firm and a sensor operator. Her remote sensing job took her across the country in a Cessna aircraft operating a topographic LIDAR sensor. The work gave her new perspectives, literally, on the built and natural environments. She returned to school with a heightened appreciation of the role planning has in shaping people’s lives. Claire is currently a dual MCRP and MS-GIST student with a focus on Housing and Community Development. She also works for the Center of Economic Development Research as a GRA and is the first-year representative for the Student Planning Association.

Dominique Vitti

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Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Pursued Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
MCRP Specialization: Transportation
Talk to Me About: Attending Tech from out of state, coming back to school after working full time, working part time while going to school, ADHD, mental health

Student ambassador Dominique was born in Bogotá, Colombia and raised in Los Angeles, California. After completing her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and Policy from California State University Long Beach, she began an internship at the City of Los Angeles for her local Councilmember. She served her community in the San Fernando Valley for four years and worked her way up to be a Legislative Deputy. Through her career with the City of LA, she had the opportunity to work alongside city planners and transportation planners. Her efforts to secure community support for a multimodal transportation project in the district led to a multimillion dollar investment from the State of California. This achievement was the catalyst in her decision to go back to school and obtain a Masters in City Planning with a specialization in Transportation. She proudly chose Georgia Tech for many reasons including the similarities between planning-related issues in Atlanta and Los Angeles. Her hope is to use her degree to expand public transportation access and mobility in both cities. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her niece and nephew, biking the BeltLine, and finding new hiking trails! . 

Faiza Hasan

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Hometown: Dallas, TX
Pursued Degree(s): Master of Science in Urban Analytics
Talk to Me About: Moving to a new city, choosing MSUA courses, Graduate research Assistantship, starting grad school right after undergrad, environmental science

Faiza is a first year Master of Urban Analytics student from Dallas, Texas. Her undergraduate degree was in Environmental science with a minor in sustainable architecture and planning. During this time she participated in an internship at a transportation institute and developed an interest in utilizing data to analyze and plan areas. She also has an interest in disaster resilience and is currently doing research in that field through her research assistantship. In her free time, Faiza enjoys travelling, pottery, video games, boxing, reading, and finding new places to eat in the city.

Giselle Deane

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Hometown: Nassau, The Bahamas
Pursued Degree(s): M.S. in Geographic Information Science & Technology
Talk to Me About: Environmental science, climate change, conservation, GIS

Giselle was born and raised in Nassau, The Bahamas. She decided to follow their love of animals, attaining an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Upon returning home, she worked at The Bahamas National Trust, the national parks management agency of The Bahamas. There, they helped organize the Bahamas Natural History Conference, the largest scientific conference in the country, conduct valuable research to monitor important ecosystems and endangered and endemic species, and fell in love with GIS. After working for nearly seven years (it was supposed to be sooner), she decided to return to school to attain a Master’s degree in GIS. In their free time, Giselle enjoys playing video games, crocheting, exercising, and bird watching (which she will try to sell you on at any opportunity)

Hannah Robnik

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Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Pursued Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
MCRP Specialization: Land Use
Talk to Me About: Moving to a new city by yourself, AmeriCorps, going back to school after working

Hannah is a first year Master of City and Regional Planning Student specializing in Land Use and pursing a Certificate of Geographic Information Systems. After completing her undergraduate degrees in History and Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University, she served at a planning non-profit in her hometown of Baton Rouge through AmeriCorps where she worked in community outreach and planning communications. After working with planners, project managers and advocates in the field, she ultimately decided to attend planning school at Georgia Tech.

Heather Mase

Headshot of Heather Mase

Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Pursued Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP); M.S. in Geographic Information Science & Technology (MS-GIST)
MCRP Specialization: Urban Design
Talk to Me About: MCRP + MS-GIST Dual Degree; Graduate Research Assistantships; Student Planning Association; Working between undergrad and grad school

Heather Mase is a second-year student pursuing dual MCRP and MS-GIST degrees. Her research and planning interests include active transportation, environmental design, GIS, and urban analytics. Prior to coming to Georgia Tech, Heather worked for a real estate market analytics firm in Atlanta, GA and a trail planning nonprofit in Charlotte, NC. For her undergraduate degree, Heather attended Davidson College and received her B.S. in Environmental Studies. While she was at Davidson, she had the opportunity to participate in a travelling study abroad program, where she studied urbanization and social justice in Buenos Aires, Hanoi, and Cape Town. Heather is a native of Atlanta and she enjoys soccer, running, cycling, and reading.

Marcellus Johnson

Headshot of Marcellus Johnson

Hometown: Oviedo, Florida
Pursued Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
MCRP Specialization: Urban Design
Talk to Me About: Moving to Atlanta from out of state, transitioning from work to school, working part-time in school

Marcellus grew up at the edge of metro Orlando where sprawling suburbs butted up against firm development boundaries and are currently densifying. In pursuit of a desire to shape the built environment, Marcellus got a B.A. in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis where he also minored in American Culture Studies and Urban Design. After graduating, he worked for 2.5 years in a St. Louis architecture firm. Between his minors and professional work, Marcellus decided that architecture was too small scale for his interests and enrolled in the MCRP program at Tech. In his free time, Marcellus likes to game (computer and board), write, learn about history, and hang out with friends.

Matteo Saracco

Headshot of Matteo Saracco

Hometown: Bologna, Italy
Pursued Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP), Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MS-CE)
MCRP Specialization: Transportation
Talk to Me About: Coming straight from undergrad; Graduate Research Assistantship; having lots of different planning interests

Matteo is originally from Italy, and moved to Atlanta to pursue a dual degree in Civil Engineering and City and Regional Planning. He has a BS in Civil Engineering and came to Georgia Tech pretty much straight out of undergrad. Matteo decided to pursue an MCRP thanks to a course he took in urban planning during his undergrad degree, and decided to marry engineering and planning by applying straight away for a dual degree (MCRP-MSCE). Matteo is an avid biker and promotes cyclist mobility as a volunteer at Starter Bikes, a Georgia Tech student-lead organization. In his spare time Matteo enjoys the outdoors, sports (football, but not the American one), board games, and complaining about public transit. Once he graduates, he hopes to find a job that can help improve access to public transit and multimodal transportation.

Micah Tamura

Headshot of Micah Tamura

Hometown: Culver City, CA
Pursued Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
MCRP Specialization: Economic Development
Talk to Me About: Moving to Atlanta from out of state, transitioning from work to school, working part-time in school

Micah grew up in Culver City California where he frequently, got stuck in traffic, complained about high cost of living, and spent way too much money on food. He studied mechanical engineering at UC Irvine because of his interest in cars and all things mechanical. After working in maintenance for a beverage manufacturing plant for 4 years, he wanted to do something more impactful, so he decided to attend grad school for planning. His hopes after graduating are to help communities become more equitable and reach their economic development goals. In his free time Micah enjoys basketball, playing card games, and exploring random spots in Atlanta. 

Nathan Davis

Headshot of Nathan Davis

Hometown: Lawrenceville, GA
Pursued Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
MCRP Specialization: Urban Design
Talk to Me About: metro Atlanta, advocacy for equitable planning, LGBTQ Atlanta, and giving back to the community

Nathan Davis is a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning candidate at Georgia Tech, with a concentration in urban design. He is interested in how the built environment affects travel behavior, whether through transportation, zoning, or another facet. Having lived in both historic and sprawling bedroom communities, Nathan believes that every community has the opportunity to reduce vehicle dependency. During his time at Florida State University, he minored in Urban and Regional Planning while majoring in Political Science, exploring how public policy affects the built environment and our day-to-day lives. Nathan is passionate about reducing vehicle dependency, planning for LGBTQ communities, and retrofitting existing development. Beyond planning, Nathan enjoys traveling, cycling, hiking, visiting historic sites, and experiencing new cultures.

Ornela Gjoni

Headshot of Ornela Gjoni

Hometown: Tirana, Albania
Pursued Degree(s): MCRP
Talk to Me About: Adjusting to life in Atlanta as an international student

Ornela Gjoni comes from Tirana, Albania, where she received her Masters in Architecture. After graduating, she worked for several years as an architect in local, design studios. In the fall of 2022, she moved to Atlanta to join the MCRP program after being awarded a full scholarship from the MIP program. Ornela’s main planning interests include walkable, safe cities, urban agriculture, and parks. In her spare time, she enjoys reading theology, listening to podcasts, sketching, and spending time with her church family.   

Peter Whitehouse

Headshot of Peter Whitehouse

Hometown: Vass, North Carolina
Pursued Degree(s): M.S. in Geographic Information Science & Technology
Talk to Me About: Coming to Tech from a small liberal arts school, coming to Atlanta from a small town, starting graduate school after a few years in the workforce, Graduate Research Assistantships, work-life balance as a married student

Originally from a rural county in the North Carolina Sandhills, Peter has a B.S. from Davidson College, where he double-majored in Environmental Studies and Music. After graduating in 2018, Peter applied his passion for environmental justice and affinity for small towns into a role as an environmental consultant for Brownfields redevelopment in small communities throughout the Carolinas and Georgia. Through this work, Peter developed an interest in Geographic Information Systems as a tool for identifying areas impacted by environmental injustices and opportunities for community revitalization. Peter started the MS-GIST program in Fall 2022 and currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant, focusing on geospatial applications of greenhouse gas emissions tracking, through the Drawdown Georgia project. Outside of class, Peter enjoys playing trombone, watching College Basketball, going for hikes, and sampling the local brewery scene.

Roxanne Raven

Headshot of Roxanne Raven

Hometown: Starkville, Mississippi
Pursued Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
MCRP Specialization: Land Use
Talk to Me About: Land use specialization; going to grad school after a few years working; coming from a non-traditional planning background

Roxanne graduated from Mississippi State in 2017 with a degree in Political Science with a Pre-law concentration and minors in French and History. At Mississippi State, she had a chance to work with the local planner and has been interested in the field since. Before joining the MCRP program in 2021, Roxanne worked at an international development NGO called the ONE Campaign in Washington, DC, which works to alleviate poverty and preventable disease with an emphasis on Africa. Roxanne’s combined past experiences sparked a passion for bringing a social justice lens to issues in city and regional planning. In her free time, Roxanne likes to read, binge Netflix and hang out with her cat, Magnolia.  Roxanne is currently working as a GRA at CQGRD helping Dr. Catherine Ross with her upcoming book on Megaregions.

Xiaofan Liang

Headshot of Xiaofan Liang

Hometown: Guangzhou, China
Pursued Degree(s): Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning
Specialization: GIS, Urban Networks, Civic Media/Civic Data Science 
Talk to Me About: PhD program; Moving to Atlanta; International Student; Graduate Research Assistantship; the technical aspect of planning

Xiaofan Liang grew up in Guangzhou, China, and is now a third-year Ph.D. student at SCaRP. Before coming to Georgia Tech, she completed a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology degree at UC-Berkeley and then pursued a second Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science at Minerva University. She went to Ph.D. straight from undergrad degrees. Her research interests are in urban analytics, spatial social networks, and digital civics. Now she is working with Dr. Clio Andris at Friendly Cities Lab. She will be resources for international students and students interested in urban analytics, GIS, PhD, and GRA.  

Yuxiang Zhao

Photo of Claire Breeden

Hometown: Luoyang, China
Pursued Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
MCRP Specialization: Urban Design
Talk to Me About: GIS, Urban design, looking for internships as an international student

Yuxiang is a student of MCRP and interested in data driven urban design. He is used to start from data analysis to find the reason and direction of urban design, so that all design becomes reasonable and full of logic. Exploration and research in different fields will bring diversity to planning and design, and satisfy the interests of the majority of people as much as possible.


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