By Adeney Zo
The bridge between a university and the working world can be a difficult one to navigate — while some students quickly satisfying employment in their field of interest, others take time discovering a suitable career. For 2011 Urban Planning alumnus Omari Fuller, graduation entailed a bit of self-discovery and experimentation before he found his current career.
“The Urban Planning program was challenging, but it ultimately gave me the preparation and skills to enter the work world. It also led me on a route of trying out different things and finding out what really interests me,” Fuller recalls.
“After graduation, I wanted to try out everything except urban planning,” he continues. “First I wanted to open my own grocery shop, then I got into community activist programs, then I switched to working at a hall for the developmentally disabled.”
However, something from Fuller’s days as a commuter student sparked an interest in returning to the urban planning field.
“When I was a student, I made an 8-mile bike commute, several times a week, to go from east Hollywood to UCLA. Very quickly, it became a matter of putting my life on the line just to get to school each week,” Fuller says.
Fuller now works for the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, a non-profit “advocacy and resource organization” that aims to improve road safety and provide resources for local bikers. “My main goal in my work is to make it safe for everyone to go to the city — whenever, wherever, and however they’re going,” he says.
“So many fatalities happen with cars, but these are preventable through proper integration with other modes of transportation,” he explains. “Bikes are also great for exercise and personal health along with helping the environment. The benefits just go on and on.”
Beyond urban planning, Fuller hopes to invest himself further in the community by working with youth offenders in probation camp. The program, called “Computers for Families,” trains youth in probation camps to fix computers that are then given to families in need. Fuller’s work helps youth offenders learn a skill set that will show them the value of both work and charity.
“I want to give youth offenders better options in life, and I believe that by involving them in charity, they can learn to give back to the community as well,” Fuller explains.
No matter where the future takes him, Fuller knows he is on the right path. “Right now I find that I finally am doing something I like, something that I really enjoy,” he says. “I feel like I am making an impact on bikers and the community through my work —that is my ultimate goal.”