Anjali Fisher

Seattle, Washington

Cornell’s planning program is the only one with this kind of regional focus. The university’s ongoing service to upstate New York, and AAP’s focus on “in-between spaces” made it an obvious choice.

Why did you choose Cornell and AAP?

I chose Cornell because I was frustrated with planners' fixation on the "urban." I knew I wanted to better understand urban-rural interrelationships, cities' material reliance on their surroundings, and how urban political economies impact the natural world. Cornell's planning program is the only one with this kind of regional focus. The university's ongoing service to upstate New York, and AAP's focus on "in-between spaces" made it an obvious choice. I also loved the flexibility of the M.R.P. curriculum. It's very "choose-your-own-adventure," which allows you to really customize your education to suit your interests.

What inspired you to join the field of city and regional planning?

As a kid, I didn’t realize that my disparate interests would put me in a prime position to study planning. I had a nerdy obsession with maps, my favorite subject was Human Geography, and I was totally enchanted by human-scale neighborhoods and beautiful landscapes, but I didn’t know why or what to make of all this. Then one day, I was listening to a radio interview with Jan Gehl, and he was talking about how urban space influences human behavior. I realized that planners have the power to create spaces that foster community and bring out the best in people. That was a big a-ha moment for me.

What experiences have contributed to your sense of belonging at AAP?

I have found a sense of belonging everywhere from grueling group study sessions in the Sibley Dome or Green Dragon, to commiserating with folks in the BRB, to working on research with my advisor, to taking classes outside our department. I've especially enjoyed bonding with classmates from other departments such as CIPA and Natural Resources.

What are your extracurricular interests and how have you incorporated them into your college life?

Amateur frisbee, Women's Planning Forum (a space to discuss gender issues in planning and to celebrate female planners), and cycling around the bucolic hills of the Ithaca region.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time at AAP and after graduation?

During my time here, I hope to deepen my understanding of how the built environment physically works, through classes in landscape architecture, law, real estate, and systems engineering. After graduation, I look forward to preparing cities and towns for climate change, whether that's by curbing sprawl or using green infrastructure to mitigate the impacts of flood and fire.

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