Student ambassadors

Meet Our Student Ambassadors

Meet Our Student Ambassadors

Would you like to ask a student questions about attending Georgia Tech for graduate school? 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.

Please direct questions about admissions to our Academic Advisor, Johnnie Sawyer.

Morgan Alzate

Morgan Alzate

Hometown: Reston, Virginia
Undergrad: Appalachian State University (ASU), Geography with a minor in planning
Degree Program(s): Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems and Technology (MS-GIST)
Talk to Me About: Being in the MS-GIST program and all that Tech and Atlanta has to offer. 

GIS caught Morgan's eye while in her undergraduate studies. She wants to be able to think spatially and utilize any resources in order to provide safe spaces around the world.

Freyja Brandel-Tanis

Freyja Brandel-Tanis

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Undergrad: St. Olaf College, Mathematics and Nordic Studies
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP), Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MS-CE)
Specialization: Transportation (MCRP), Transportation Systems Engineering (MS-CE)
Talk to Me About: Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs), AmeriCorps education awards, traversing Atlanta without relying on a car, dual-degree programs, using R, and moving from the Midwest.

Freyja Brandel-Tanis grew up in Chicago, where she gained her affinity for transit and walkability from an early age. After studying math and Nordic studies at St. Olaf College, she moved to Minneapolis to serve with Habitat for Humanity as an AmeriCorps member. Freyja moved to Atlanta to join the MCRP program and decided to expand her horizons by adding a second masters in Civil Engineering. In her free time, she enjoys playing board games, hiking, talking about planning issues, and learning to fix her bike.

Micah Bray

Micah Bray

Hometown: Savannah, Georgia
Undergrad: Georgia Institute of Technology, Biochemistry
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP), Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MS-CE)
Specialization: Transportation

Micah was in his last year of undergrad studying biochemistry when he decided to stop by the nearest GameStop and pick up a video game on sale, Cities Skylines. It was a city planning game, the first he had ever played. After many hours of zoning and planning train routes and highways, Micah decided to translate his passion to a new career path. Micah desires to promote walkability, bikeability, and transit expansion to improve the quality of life in cities across the Southeast. His favorite part of the program is the solidarity and camaraderie to be found in his cohort.

Phillip Walker Carnell

Phillip Walker Carnell

Hometown: Denton, Texas
Undergrad: University of North Texas, B.A. in German & International Studies: Humanitarian Affairs & Regional Development
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP), Master of Science in Public Policy (MS-PP)
Specialization: Local Economic Development, Environmental Policy
Talk to Me About: dual majors, international development, urban policy, coming into urban planning with a liberal arts background and no quantitative or design background, funding, Graduate Research Assistantships

Phillip Walker Carnell went on exchange to Germany where he took a geography class and discovered that city planning was a career. His interests are largely in international development at the nexus of urban policy, economic development policy, and sustainable environmental planning. The stellar faculty, their research, and the community vibe of SCaRP wow-ed him enough to bring him to Atlanta from Germany, where he was completing a Fulbright Fellowship in Leipzig. Since coming to Tech, Phillip has made an effort to remain connected to international issues, seeking out opportunities in both departments to grow his knowledge of international urban policy. In addition, Phillip works in the Planning Local Economic Development Lab as a Graduate Research Assistant under Dr. Nancey Green Leigh.

Yun-Hsuan (Grace) Chen

Yun-Hsuan (Grace) Chen

Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan
Undergrad: Bachelor of Law, National Taiwan University
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Transportation
Talk to Me About: returning to school after time in the professional world, graduate research assistantships, thriving as an international student

Grace Chen studied law during her undergrad and had worked as a lawyer for cases including contamination damages and land ownership disputes.  While dealing with urban-related legal cases, she found the field of urban planning, which has the potential of solving these problems beforehand and benefiting the society in longer terms.  Her passion led her to seek inspiration and opportunities here in the US.  She enjoys combining her quantitative and qualitative skills to plan for human-centered transportation and emerging modes, as well as work on urban-related policies and regulations.  Outside of school, Grace loves modern dance and theater performances.

Natasha Dowell

Natasha Dowell

Hometown: Miami, Florida
Undergrad: University of Florida, Health Education and Behavior
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Economic Development
Talk to Me About: Returning to school after spending time in the professional world, living in Atlanta, securing funding for school, public health and planning, changing careers

Natasha Dowell studied health education in undergrad at the University of Florida and then earned her Master of Public Health from the University of South Florida. Before beginning her MCRP program, Natasha worked as a contractor at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, developing public warnings around outbreaks linked to contaminated food. She has worked on several public health topics, including behavioral health and chronic disease, and is interested in how the built environment affects access to health. In her free time, Natasha enjoys baking, hiking, organizing, and watching documentaries.

Andrew Dunham

Andrew Dunham

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Undergrad: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, BA in Urban Planning and Policy
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Urban Design
Talk to Me About: Coming straight out of undergrad and trying to decide on your concentration.

Andy Dunham always exhibited an interest in cities and knew that he wanted to study planning in undergrad. While at the University of Illinois, he explored many different disciplines of planning but when he was exposed to the overlap between architecture and planning, he realized that wanted to pursue urban design. Georgia Tech is known for its strong urban design program and was a natural choice for furthering his study, both because of its location in a rapidly-evolving city and its excellent faculty. He currently interns at CAP and hopes to work in planning and design consulting.

Alison Evans

Alison Evans

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Undergrad: Arizona State University, B.S. in Biochemistry
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Economic Development
Talk to Me About: Being new to Atlanta, transitioning back to school from being in the professional world, the Student Planning Association

Alison developed an interest for science and education policy while studying biochemistry in her undergrad. After graduating in 2015, she moved to Washington, D.C. where she worked for a lobbying firm representing universities and non profit scientific societies. While engaging with federal policy she began to see the role of cities and regions in combating critical problems like equal access to education and jobs, workforce development, and climate change. At SCaRP, Alison is pursuing these issues by specializing in economic development and considering how we can build economic policies and cities that improve the quality of life for all citizens.

Candace Foster

Candace Foster

Hometown: Johns Creek, Georgia
Undergrad: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Environmental Studies
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Transportation
Talk to Me About: Graduate Research Assistantships, Moving Cross-Country

Candace Foster studied environmental studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but was exposed to planning through coursework, study abroad opportunities, and research in hazard mitigation planning. After graduation, she served two years with AmeriCorps as a K-3 literacy tutor in southeast DC. These two years were formidable, as she learned the importance of public transit and community development through the lens of education. At Georgia Tech, Candace works as a graduate research assistant with Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation, focusing on aiding projects and innovative policies that drive smart community development in Georgia. 

Quincy Haisley

Quincy Haisley

Hometown: Clemson, South Carolina
Undergrad: Brigham Young University; Major was Geography with an emphasis in Urban and Regional Planning
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Housing and Community Development
Talk to Me About: transitioning straight from undergrad, moving across the country, and finding internships!

Quincy studied Urban Planning in her undergrad while also interning for two local governments in the Salt Lake region. In her spare time in undergrad, she volunteered with the Center for Women and Children in Crisis as a Housing Stability volunteer. It was there that she found she enjoyed combining her love of people, affordable housing, and urban planning. As a native southerner, she jumped at the opportunity to come back to the South because 1. Georgia Tech is a great school, and 2. Because it’s the land of SEC/ACC football. Currently, she is interning with an affordable housing consulting firm in Atlanta.

Justin Johnstone

Justin Johnstone

Hometown: Alpharetta, Georgia
Undergrad: University of Georgia - Consumer Economics, Music Business
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Land Use
Talk to Me About: making a career shift, the Student Planning Association, managing a healthy work-life balance, music

Justin Johnstone studied Consumer Economics at the University of Georgia while also pursuing work within the music industry. His aspirations gained him opportunities to work for a recording studio, as well as a Nashville based record label. After graduation, Justin decided to switch career paths and pursue higher education in city planning at Georgia Tech. Here he has further developed his interest for land use planning and data analysis. In addition to gaining new insights and technical skills, Justin feels that he finds significant value in the many opportunities that are offered for student engagement within the program.

Eryn Kim

Eryn Kim

Hometown: Vancouver, Canada
Undergrad: University of British Columbia, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Urban Design
Talk to Me About: Returning to school after time in the professional world, coming into planning with no planning/design background, moving to Atlanta.

Eryn worked for both nonprofits and private companies prior to joining SCaRP. Her interest in planning solidified while working abroad and experiencing uneven impacts of urbanization in various communities. She is interested in leveraging her experience in community development and participatory design to promote equitable and inclusive cities.  

Lier (Perlie) Liu

Lier (Perlie) Liu

Hometown: Anhui, China
Undergrad: Environmental Science, UC Davis
Degree(s): Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology (MS-GIST)
Specialization: Transportation Engineering
Talk to Me About: If you are seeking geospatial research opportunities at CSPAV, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Perlie studied environmental science in undergrad, while simultaneously doing research about fracking, remote sensing and transportation at the University of California, Davis. During her time interacting with the Geography Graduate Group, she became aware of her passion for incorporating geospatial techniques into problem-solving process. Such interest brought her to Atlanta in 2019, where she landed a master's degree at Georgia Tech. Meanwhile, Perlie works as a research assistant at Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization (CSPAV) with a focus on transportation maintenance engineering.

Kyle Mayans

Kyle Mayans

Hometown: West Palm Beach, Florida
Undergrad: New College of Florida, Political Science
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP), Master of Science in Public Policy (MS-PP)
Specialization: Housing & Community Development, Economic Development
Talk to Me About: dual degree in policy; transitioning right from undergrad to grad; transitioning from small liberal arts school; social life in general.

Kyle is interested in community and economic development, particularly in historically undeserved areas.  He wants to better understand how to leverage public and private resources to bring more jobs, education opportunities, and resources to American cities.  As a dual public policy major, he generally focuses on enacting change directly from local (and sometimes state and national) institutions.

Michaela McKinney

Michaela McKinney

Hometown: Mount Dora, Florida
Undergrad: Spelman College, Political Science
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Housing & Community Development
Talk to Me About: Transitioning straight from undergrad, staying in Atlanta, transitioning from a Historically Black College to Georgia Tech.

Michaela McKinney earned her bachelor's degree in Political Science from Spelman College. She has interned for Next Generation Men & Women, Inc and been a participant in the UCSD STARS Summer Research Program. Michaela is passionate about community engagement and relationship building. Michaela decided to continue her journey in Atlanta by attending Georgia Tech to obtain her masters in City and Regional Planning, with a concentration of housing and community development. 

Rachel Muller

Rachel Muller

Hometown: Miami, Florida
Undergrad: University of Florida, Political Science and Economics
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Environment and Health
Talk to Me About: The Student Planning Association!

Rachel Muller is currently pursuing a career as an environmental planner to help create a world where the built environment and natural environment are able to coexist sustainably. She has a passion for local government and back in her college town, volunteered to get progressive, visionary thinkers into local offices. Her favorite mode of transportation is walking. When she is not studying for class or exploring the city by foot, you can find her working at a local cafe in Atlanta making latte art.

Eirin Murphy

Eirin Murphy

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia 
Undergrad: Georgia State University, B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in Public Policy
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Environment and Health, Land Use
Talk to Me About: Living in Atlanta, specializations, coming from a non-planning background, transitioning quickly from undergrad.

Eirin Murphy studied anthropology in undergrad with a minor in public policy at Georgia State University. It was through her policy courses that she started her academic journey to become a planner. She made her decision to join SCaRP because of the expert faculty, a supportive community environment among students, and the ability to work on applied projects that will shape the future of her beloved hometown, Atlanta. Before she began her MCRP, Eirin was an Americorps VISTA in Austin, Texas.

Brian Mykulyn

Brian Mykulyn

Hometown: Granville, Ohio
Undergrad: Rhodes College, Urban Studies
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Housing & Community Development
Talk to Me About: Living in Atlanta, specializations, coming from a non-planning background, transitioning quickly from undergrad.

Brian Mykulyn studied Urban Studies in undergrad in Memphis, Tennessee. During his senior year, he began working with Neighborhood Preservation Inc., a nonprofit that promotes neighborhood revitalization by collaboratively developing practical and sustainable resolutions to blighted properties and to the systems that lead to widespread neglect, vacancy and abandonment of real estate. Through this work, he discovered his love for community development, ultimately leading him to pursue a Masters in City and Regional Planning at Tech. Since coming to SCaRP, Brian has worked as a Graduate Research Assistant and now as Co-op Intern with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Shruthy Nair

Shruthy Nair

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Undergrad: Simon Fraser University (in B.C., Canada) - Bachelors in Geography with Environmental Specialty; British Columbia Institute of Technology (in B.C., Canada) - Bachelors of Technology in Geographic Information Systems 
Degree(s): Masters of Science in Geographic Information Science & Technology (MS-GIST)
Talk to Me About: My experience with the MS-GIST program, returning to school after working for a few years, moving to Atlanta from another country and more. 

Shruthy Nair studied Environmental Geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in her undergrad. During her undergrad she completed a six month practicum in GIS with British Columbia's provincial government and their GIS team. After the completion of her degrees, she went on work at a municipality in the Metro Vancouver area within its GIS / IT department for two years. She is very passionate about GIS and its applications in all sectors of the working world. This passion pushed her to study GIS as a grad student and brought her to Georgia Tech, where she is broadening her skills through coursework and working as a GRA at the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization. 

Ian Newman

Ian Newman

Hometown: Moreland Hills, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland)
Undergrad: Ohio State University - Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (EEDS)
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Land Use and Transportation
Talk to Me About: Going straight from undergrad to grad school, graduate research assistant positions, moving across the country, and professional development.

While at Ohio State, Ian stumbled into the world of city planning through a couple of courses dealing in international sustainable city development, local smart city grants and an undergraduate thesis. It was there he found a passion for using land use and transportation design and regulatory principles to foster safe and economically-sustainable communities. At SCaRP, Ian enjoys talking everything planning related with his fellow cohort members, taking advantage of the basement desk space, stopping into the SCaRP administrative offices to ask questions to professors, and learn new software skills in the college's computer labs.

Hannah Slep

Hannah Slep

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Undergrad: UNC Chapel Hill - Environmental Science
Degree(s): Masters of Science in Geographic Information Science & Technology (MS-GIST)

Hannah Slep studied Environmental Science and Biology in undergrad. As she continued moving forward with her passion to study and resolve climate change issues in terms of ecology and animal behavior, she stumbled upon a GIS course. She realized how useful and crucial this skill would be in solving environmental issues, whether local or global. After two more GIS courses, Hannah knew that getting a Master's in GIS would not only guarantee her a job and good pay for her hard work, but it would also keep in line with her passion. She wanted the best, so she reached high, and thus led her to Georgia Tech. At SCaRP, Hannah is in the Master's of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology program. She enjoys the core courses that cultivate and develop her GIS skills further, and she appreciates the environmental course options available as well.

Brock Thompson

Brock Thompson

Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska
Undergrad: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Housing & Community Development
Talk to Me About: Returning to school after time in the professional world.

Brock Thompson initially studied architecture at the University of Nebraska before graduating with an economics degree. He subsequently worked in Chicago for planning/economic development/real estate consultancy for 3 years. At Tech he is especially interested in real estate and equity and also works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center for Economic Development Research in Tech Square. Outside of school he enjoys exploring Atlanta without a car (especially by MARTA and jogging), and singing in his church choir.

Soo Huey Yap

Soo Huey Yap

Hometown: Penang, Malaysia
Undergrad: Monash University; BSc(Medical Biotechnology)
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)+Masters of Science in Geographic Information Science & Technology (MS-GIST)
Specialization: Transportation
Talk to Me About: MCRP vs MS-GIST, being an international student, returning to school after time in the professional world, and keeping it real.

Soo Huey studied microbiology and life sciences in Melbourne, Australia, and subsequently worked 8 years in administration and policy roles in government in Malaysia. She left her final position as a state legislator to enroll in Georgia Tech to gain better understanding and skills in transportation planning with hopes of one day using her skills to contribute towards transportation planning in developing countries. She is in the MS-GIST / MCRP dual degree program, as well as a cooperative program where she works at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transportation Authority (MARTA) during the semester to gain real-world training in transit planning.

Nina Zou

Nina Zou

Hometown: Jersey City, New Jersey
Undergrad: Rutgers, Planning and Public Policy and Nutritional Sciences
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Environment and Health
Talk to Me About: Transitioning straight from undergrad, not having a car in Atlanta, moving from the Northeast

Nina found urban planning trying to figure out how to influence human behavior through the built environment and came to Tech with a myriad of interests before honing down on health planning. Her previous experience in community nutrition and desire to improve lives currently directs her interest to wanting to work in the community to bridge gaps. She is working as a Graduate Research Assistant in CSPAV, looking at how farmers markets fit into Atlanta's food access network. Outside of school, you can usually find Nina exploring the city, lifting weights, or cooking.

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