Katharine Daya Bill: Urban Sustainability

Katharine Daya BillKatharine Daya Bill

Urban Sustainability

B.A. January 2009

Bloustein Tuition Award

Barbara Kneller Memorial Award

Gamma Theta Upsilon Honor Society

Dean’s Certificate for Academic Excellence

Dean’s List

In her own words…

The CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies was a perfect fit.  When I entered the program, it had been nearly a decade since I first began college.  At that point, I was eager to complete my bachelor’s degree so that I could move onto graduate work.  The freedom to access courses across a variety of CUNY schools allowed me to meet my academic goals and complete my studies in a timely – and affordable – manner.  I also credit my unique Area of Concentration for helping me secure a related paid internship and admission to a master’s degree program.

I am interested in local policies that respond to the challenges of globalization and climate change to build healthier urban economies and environments.  My interdisciplinary curriculum at CUNY was designed to approach urban systems and environmental sustainability from a variety of perspectives.  I came into the program with prior coursework in science, economics and politics and was able to use specific classes in Ecology, Geology, and Urban Design as a base for my concentration.  To expand on this background, I turned to the Departments of Geography and Urban Affairs at Hunter College to study Environmental Justice, Economic Geography, Urban Geography, and Methods of Urban Research and Policy Analysis.  Further, I was able to round out my concentration with an Urbanization course from the CUNY School of Professional Studies and an Environmental Economics course from John Jay.

In the true liberal arts tradition, my short time as a CUNY BA/BS student was not limited to simply meeting graduation requirements.  Beyond my Area of Concentration, I also took the opportunity to study Calculus II at Baruch purely as an intellectual challenge (it had been 10 years since I had taken any math classes!) and to study Intermediate Spanish Grammar and Spanish Conversation in Ecuador through the College of Staten Island.  I finished my degree credits during the one month study abroad and was able to spend additional time traveling.  On my administrative graduation date of January 31st, I was hiking through the Chocó Andean cloudforest on my way to a volunteer gig at a sustainable tourism project.  What better way to celebrate?

Continuing my formal education, I am pleased to have been accepted to the urban planning master’s program (with partial tuition subsidy) at Rutgers University.  This curriculum ties in smoothly with my undergraduate study of Urban Sustainability. I will concentrate on Environmental and Physical Planning and will increase my technical abilities through courses in Geospatial Information Science.  I am particularly interested in techniques for measuring and tracking community sustainability.  After graduate school, I expect to seek out positions in a government, non-profit or academic setting.

When I entered CUNY BA/BS, I had a full-time job in another field and could not afford to stop working to go back to school.  The flexibility of so many course options was important because it allowed me to build a class schedule that fit with my work schedule.  Even better, after my first semester (summer) as a CUNY BA/BS student, I was able to find an internship directly related to my Area of Concentration.  I now contribute to research on local government initiatives for environmental sustainability as an intern at the Rutgers’ New Jersey Sustainable State Institute.  I secured this part-time position while enrolled as a full-time student in CUNY BA/BS last fall and have been pleased to be re-hired for the spring after my two months in Ecuador.  Presenting my unique concentration in Urban Sustainability allowed me to show that my academic interests were closely aligned with the work of the institute.  This internship also gave me a foot in the door at Rutgers and likely supported my admission to this graduate program.

These accomplishments seem to have been completed in record time.  It was just over one year ago (February 2008) that I was enrolling at Kingsborough Community College to rehabilitate my GPA so that I could be accepted back to a four-year college.  In only 11 months, I earned a total of 48 college credits with a 3.98 GPA, attained a paid internship aligned with my career goals, graduated from CUNY, and have been accepted to a competitive graduate program (Rutgers’ Bloustein School was ranked #4 of the “Nation’s Best Graduate Schools in Urban Planning” in 2008).  I do not believe this would have been possible any way other than with CUNY BA/BS.  I am so grateful that the program exists.