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.

Freyja Brandel-Tanis

Headshot of 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: The Student Planning Association, 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.

Noldy Belizaire

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Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Undergrad: University of Florida
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Housing and Community Development, Environment and Health
Talk to Me About: Going straight into undergrad, moving from another state

Noldy came to learn about planning after taking an urban planning and resilience course at the University of Florida. On a class trip to Atlanta, Noldy learned about local green and community development initiatives which inspired his decision to join SCaRP and be immersed in a better understanding of how to make a change. Before joining, Noldy has been involved with international sustainable development projects in Haiti. He is passionate about developing solutions through the lens of community development, cultural sustainability, and equity. Outside of his studies, he loves singing, playing the guitar, and traveling to nature spots. 

Regan Buchanan

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Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina
Undergrad: UNC Chapel Hill
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Transportation & Environment and Health
Talk to Me About: Coming from a field unrelated to planning, transitioning from working to graduate school, GRA's, being an out of state student, moving logistics, exploring a new city, financial aid.

Regan grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with degrees in Global Studies and Geography. After undergrad, Regan worked as a College Adviser in rural North Carolina high school for 2 years, where she witnessed first hand how car-dependent communities often excluded her low income students from educational opportunities. Her time studying geography and working in education taught her that the built environment has a major role in either advancing or delaying equity. She was inspired by her students to apply to City Planning programs, and hopes to be a part of expanding access to alternative modes of transportation in the South. 

Mary Cash

Headshot of Mary Cash

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
Undergrad: Sewanee - The University of the South
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Urban Design
Talk to Me About: How to balance full-time work with full-time school

Mary Cash is from both Birmingham, AL and Chattanooga, TN, but has claimed Atlanta home for several years. Her past experiences include working in refugee resettlement, events and festivals, swim coaching, and employee benefits consulting. Mary was introduced to urban theories and Atlanta's urban history by being a tour guide at Piedmont Park. She is most interested in urban design, future city planning, and historical preservation. When she's not at her full time job or in class, Mary loves running, open water swimming (though Tech's pools are pretty sweet), and exploring hidden gems in Atlanta. 

Megan Conville

Headshot of Megan Conville

Hometown: Mountain View, California
Undergrad: Seattle University
Master's: SOAS University of London
Degree(s): Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning
Talk to Me About: Moving to Atlanta, virtual learning, coming from a non-planning background, transitioning from a Master's degree from abroad.

Megan has a focus on housing, specifically access to and the affordability of housing. After finishing undergrad in Seattle, she stayed in the very rainy city a bit longer to work for a non-profit which worked to prevent individuals from becoming unhoused. She then moved to London and received her Masters in Global Economic Governance and Policy, focusing her dissertation on welfare systems in transition. In her program, Megan continues to explore access to affordable housing. In her free time, she enjoys terrible reality TV and hiking.

Colin Delargy

Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Undergrad: Technische Universität Berlin
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP) and Master of Science in Public Policy (MS-PP)
Specialization: Housing and Community Development
Talk to Me About: Engaging in grassroots and activists groups in Atlanta, being a GRA, virtual learning, transitioning to this program after having lived in a foreign country, European housing policies

Colin studied city planning in Berlin, Germany as an undergrad before deciding to move back to the USA to continue his studies there. He is motivated through finding ways to make sure the skills learned in city planning go to aiding the initiatives and grassroots groups who are engaged in city-related topics. Mostly, he’s been involved in housing activist groups in both Germany and here in Atlanta. Lately, his focus is on city funding and budgeting, as well as on housing. But no mistaking, he’s also happy to talk your ear off about the history of playgrounds or trash/recycling and less political stuff (although let's be real, it's all political). 

Colin is currently working as a GRA under Dr. Paige Clayton looking at the structures and supports needed in an area to support entrepreneurs.

Maggie Ely

Headshot of Maggie Ely

Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
Undergrad: Centre College
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Environment and Health
Talk to Me About: Transitioning back to school from being in the professional world, managing a healthy work-life balance, and fun running routes in Atlanta!

Maggie studied Environmental Studies in undergrad at Centre College in Kentucky where she was especially interested in land conservation and management. Her experiences in land conservation through internships with a local nature preserve in Kentucky and the American Conservation Experience AmeriCorps program in Asheville, North Carolina made her even more interested in environmental planning topics. Following her AmeriCorps position, she worked for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as a Planner I and later as a Planner III within their Waterway Management Unit. This experience provided her with an understanding of what the planning process looks like at the state level and more broadly, how the administrative side of environmental management is carried out, which deepened her interest in planning. Maggie loves running in Atlanta (despite the hills!) and discovering new parts of the city by foot or bike.

Xiaofan Liang

Headshot of Xiaofan Liang

Hometown: Guangzhou, China
Undergrad: University of California, Berkeley and Minerva Schools at KGI
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 second-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 Schools at KGI. She went to Ph.D. straight from undergrad degrees. Her intellectual interests start from complexity science, working at Santa Fe Institute for two summers, and was nurtured toward cities as she rotated to live and study in seven different cities around the world. Now she is working with Dr. Clio Andris at Friendly Cities Lab to research interpersonal relationships in geographic space. She is a technical expert (GIS, Computer Science) with firm interests in social science topics and civic causes. 

Natalie Manitius

Headshot of Natalie Manitius

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Undergrad: University of British Columbia
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Environment and Health, Urban Design 
Talk to Me About: Beginning a master's right from undergrad, dual specializations, Atlanta

Natalie grew up just north of Atlanta before moving to Vancouver, Canada to attend the University of British Columbia. It only took one environmental design course to change her degree and set her on a path to become an urban planner. After four years of studying, hiking, and eating lots of ice cream she graduated with a Bachelor's of Global Resource Systems and returned to Atlanta to begin another degree as an MCRP student at Georgia Tech. She is passionate about restructuring our cities to be climate resilient, healthy, and livable places for all. Outside of her studies she loves to tackle new baking challenges, be in the mountains, and try to keep her houseplants and garden alive.

Bianca Mers

Headshot of Bianca Mers

Hometown: Marietta, Georgia
Undergrad: University of Delaware
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Land Use
Talk to Me About: Coming straight from undergrad; Graduate Research Assistantship; having lots of different planning interests

Bianca is passionate about creating more resilient and just places for people. Informed by her work with a community development corporation, she believes that the communities must always be at the center of the discussion. She is an advocate of local solutions that work toward addressing global problems and is always looking for an excuse to talk about the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Outside of the classroom, Bianca loves all things food-related and is always open to trying a new place!   

Reginald White Jr.

Headshot of Reginald White Jr.

Hometown: Lithonia, Georgia
Undergrad: University of West Georgia
Degree(s): Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Specialization: Housing and Community Development
Talk to Me About: Staying in Atlanta, transitioning from a small school to Georgia Tech, how to secure internships opportunities, professionalism 

Reginald attended the University of West Georgia for his undergraduate career and through his journey of obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Geography, he became interested in urban studies. There he learned of the inequities within the housing realm in Atlanta and similar cities around the U.S and the lasting effects of disinvestment on these communities. This fueled his drive for continuing his education on housing and community development here at Georgia Tech to do his part in promoting equity within communities here in Atlanta. 

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