Championing Students and Emerging Planners: An Update From the SRC

As APA's Student Representative Council (SRC) embarks on its 45th year, we return with a renewed purpose to continue championing students and emerging planners.

The SRC aims to "improve the world by elevating diverse students and emerging planners." I started my volunteer journey with APA at the SRC in 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic. The SRC, APA, and the entire world have seen plenty of change since then, and we recognize that planning students and emerging professionals need to hear from us more than ever. Now, in my second year as chair of the SRC, I'm pleased to share our big successes from last year and highlight what to look out for as the year evolves.

Supporting student success

Last year, the SRC hosted myriad programs supporting ongoing student success.

Our "Intersections" series finds where students and emerging planners have the clearest paths to work between urban planning and its related fields. We held events with environmental science and civil engineering professionals, hosted by members of the SRC and offered at no-cost to student members.

For on-campus student planning organizations (PSOs), we continued our tradition of hosting the Planning Student Symposium, a virtual, nationwide forum each fall. The seminar featured Samorn Selim, a renowned author, legal professional, and career coach who focuses on well-being and intentionality in the professional world.

And for students and emerging planners who attended the National Planning Conference (NPC22) in San Diego, we hosted two networking events and partnered with APA's Career Services to co-host the Mentor Match Mixer in-person event. We also offered a virtual town hall during the online conference to get student feedback.

focus for 2023

The 2023 National Planning Conference (NPC23) will feature physical and virtual components. The SRC's keystone event will highlight winners of this year's SRC — Divisions Council Student Design Competition. Co-sponsored by the APA Urban Design and Preservation Division, APA Divisions Council, and the SRC, the annual competition invites teams of students to design a planning solution to a community issue in the NPC host city. This year, the competition centers on public health and affordable housing for Philadelphia's Logan Triangle.

We will also support the return of an in-person Mentor Match Mixer and plan to continue the tradition of hosting a networking mixer for students at the conference. A formal list of student-focused events from APA and the SRC will be available soon. I encourage attendees to stay up to date through our Linkedin Group. We look forward to sharing more about our plans for students and emerging planners soon!

Opportunities Unbound

I am thrilled to announce the pilot of a new sponsorship program called Opportunities Unbound, supported by individual donors and managed by the SRC. This sponsorship will help to cover the cost of attendance, travel, and lodging to help bring students to NPC. We expect this pilot to sustain, grow, and become a critical element of the SRC's goal to uplift student planners. The SRC has made the Opportunities Unbound application straightforward.

Planning Student Symposium

Later this fall, the SRC will continue and expand the Planning Student Symposium series designed explicitly for on-campus planning student leaders. We hope to bring in more speakers and cover topics to help on-campus leaders build coalitions, manage student issues, and strengthen their communities. The Symposium is a landmark series that is entirely free and online. Please register your on-campus planning student organization group with APA to receive updates.

Commitment to Inclusion

We're also looking to meaningfully increase our engagement with students and emerging professionals by continuing to expand our network of registered PSOs and students and emerging planners connected to APA. Our PSO development committee will actively identify students and emerging planners to provide information about what resources and opportunities are available to them through APA. A particular focus will be students and programs from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). Planning student organizations can register for free with APA online; student membership is also free.

leadership development

The SRC believes in becoming home to a lively, diverse, and exceptionally talented group of new leaders. We are proud of our accomplishments in this respect, but we always seek to identify new professional leaders and foster their leadership development. In addition, we'll continue to look for ways to help ensure that the vital elements of diversity already present in our council continue. We invite you to submit your interest in serving the profession and APA. Don't worry if you don't know much about APA — this is a place to learn!

Leadership within the SRC must be inclusive, rewarding, and safe. We hold the SRC to the highest standards as the future planners of the profession and will not tolerate any form of harassment. We will continue assessing and updating our bylaws to ensure our policies and standards protect our leaders and foster the inclusive environment we aspire to create.

About the SRC

The SRC Executive Committee comprises one student representative from each APA region. The SRC represents students, emerging planners, and Planning Student Organizations (PSOs) wherever APA operates. In some cases, students join the SRC and are elected or appointed to serve in other roles as emerging planners. The executive committee aims to create a lasting connection between those new to the profession and APA. The committee helps shape APA's policies that affect student issues, sits on the APA Board of Directors and other leadership groups, and organizes student events at the National Planning Conference. The SRC Executive Committee has recently staggered its election process. Each executive committee member serves a two-year term.

The SRC team is highly involved with several other components within the association. Our volunteer leaders serve on the APA Board of Directors, the AICP Commission, the NPC planning commission, APA's EDI committee, and countless others. We're actively building new partnerships with divisions, chapters, and outside of the association, and strengthening the network of universities, students, and emerging planner groups through traditional means and our Linkedin Group. Students can always learn more by reaching out to their SRC regional representative.

Top image: Student members gather at the Student Lounge during NPC22 in San Diego. Photo by Bob Hoffman Photography.

About the Author
Kohl Malo, AICP, is the chair of the Student Representative Council.

March 1, 2023

By Kohl Malo, AICP