Thomas Petluck

Ossining, New York

I plan to use my studies at AAP to revitalize the communities my relatives do not recognize as their home anymore and emanate the importance of sustainability and humanity in our ever-changing society.

Why did you choose Cornell and AAP?

I never thought that I would spend my next four years in a spacious, expansive green setting (or even an Ivy League for that matter) as an aspiring urbanist. Throughout my decision process, my educators and peers had constantly told me to go outside of my comfort zone (the city that never sleeps), and when I visited Cornell for the first time through Diversity Hosting, I still had my reservations. What changed my perspective, however, was the chance to live and breathe AAP. From the moment I entered Sibley Dome, I was greeted by the director of admissions who knew my name before I had even introduced myself, alongside a group of my future classmates who each bring to the table different interpretations of what it means to be AAP and what it means to be a member of an inclusive community within a widespread university.

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

It was the only interest of mine that truly stood the test of time. From the times my mom recalls when I was two reciting the New York City subway stations like clockwork, to the present day where transportation, gentrification, and the intersections of our society have worked their way into being common vernacular that me and my family talk about day after day, it was inevitable that I found urban planning to be the career that speaks to me.

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

In the athletic aspect, I am a track and field fanatic. Through hard work and dedication, I have turned my passion into action becoming an indoor New York State champion with my 4 x 200m relay in 2019 and ranked top 20 in the U.S. Off the track, however, I am a firm believer that equality cannot be promoted without equity and I have taken action in bringing this notion to the table as a Student Equity Leader at my school. In addition, I am a big human rights advocate and throughout the years in high school, I have had the opportunity to attend March for Our Lives, the Women's March, International Relation Symposiums, and to volunteer at local family clinics for low-income families and new parents.

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

Throughout my time at AAP, I hope to expand my knowledge of cities and transportation outside of the New York Metropolitan area and delve deeper into the systems that are both inequitable in various aspects and hazardous to the environment and ultimately find a medium to create sustainable cities that are virtually responsive to their population. I plan to use my studies at AAP to revitalize the communities my relatives do not recognize as their home anymore and emanate the importance of sustainability and humanity in our ever-changing society.