IPP Bridges Studies to Global Career International Practice Pathways (IPP) offers internships to students across the globe.

By Adeney Zo

Since 2011, the International Practice Pathways (IPP) program has offered a global component to Luskin students’ education prior to the inception of Global Public Affairs. This summer, IPP once again sent a group of students to internship placements around the world, offering them the unique opportunity to see their education come to life on the international scale.

The global journey begins with Shafaq Choudry MURP ’16, who interned in the mayor’s office in Panama City, Panama. Having grown up in Venezuela and worked extensively with Latino communities as a planner, Choudry was immediately drawn to a placement opportunity in Latin America. “The IPP summer program in Panama presented a tremendous opportunity to work at a recently established Department of Urban Planning under the mayor’s office on transportation and land use projects,” she explained.

Her areas of academic interest include sustainable transportation and equitable development, so the opportunity to work in a rapidly developing city was invaluable.

“Panama City has undergone rapid growth and development over the years, and with new leadership in place, the Department of Planning is investing in strategies and tools for inclusive and equitable growth,” said Choudry.

Despite the practical experience she gained, Choudry was most inspired by the people she encountered during her time abroad.

“I met extraordinary, young and talented individuals that are passionate about transforming their city for the better,” said Choudry. “Their open and eager-for-change attitude allowed me to integrate with the team and generate ideas for the future together.”

Choudry will continue her travels this year with a comprehensive thesis project in Mexico City, an endeavor she hopes will lead to a career in Latin America. “Toward the end of my 10-week fellowship in Panama, I received the affirmation I needed in order to pursue international planning work in Latin America as a consultant,” she said.

Like Choudry, Katie Merrill MSW ’16 had deep personal ties to her placement — Europe — having lived and worked in Germany before coming to Luskin. Motivated by this combination of personal and academic interest, Merrill chose to intern at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

“I have always been interested in the UN and the grand scale of global humanitarian work,” said Merrill. “I was particularly attracted to the idea of working at UNHCR in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis.”

Merrill was given the freedom to design and run a study on staff alcohol abuse across the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Many UNHCR staff members work in dangerous areas under highly stressful conditions, leading to a widespread alcohol abuse problem, Merrill explained. “I was shocked and fascinated by what I heard on a daily basis, and I felt a profound responsibility to do them justice,” she said.

“This experience showed me just how intimate research can, in fact, be,” she continued. “I spent hours on the phone with staff members speaking about very jarring personal experiences. It was so powerful to feel that my synthesis and communication of their messages may very well lead to real and important policy changes in the organization, and it was an honor to be at the heart of something so big.”

Merrill and her coworkers interviewed more than 100 staff members over the course of her study, and her findings will be incorporated into a final report to UNHCR.

Away from city life, Jason Karpman MURP ’16 applied his studies in urbanization and environmental impact to the rainforests of Chiang Mai, Thailand. When considering where to apply for his IPP placement, Karpman had his sights set on the research organization World Agroforestry Centre. Between their global office locations, Thailand had the most abundant forest area, covering approximately 37% of the country. “I was drawn to the ecology of the place,” explained Karpman.

IPP offers students the chance to engage in real-life applications of their studies, and this aspect of the program resonated deeply with Karpman. While the majority of his time was spent conducting literature review and research at Chiang Mai University, Karpman was most inspired by field visits to the rainforest itself. He recalled the breathtaking moment when he entered a tropical rainforest for the first time:

“It’s one of those awe-inspiring experiences, and I was humbled by how spectacular [the rainforest] is, how productive it is,” said Karpman. “There was green as far as the eye can see. It solidified that these places provide important environmental services for our planet.”

To future students considering IPP, Karpman recommends the program as the ideal window between the first and second year to reassess the direction of one’s studies.

“[I realized] how to maximize my last year in this program to get the skills and content education I need,” he said. “I can’t overemphasize how important the value of the program is — it’s a moment to pause in your education, reassess things and then get back in the program.”



Students Report on Assignments Around the Globe Students living and working abroad will be blogging about their professional and personal experiences on the UCLA Luskin Abroad blog

A sexual health study in the Dominican Republic. Federal water policy in Mexico City. A bus rapid transit line through Nairobi, Kenya.

These are just three of the projects that UCLA Luskin students will be tackling this summer as they live and work in countries around the world. Most of the students travel under the auspices of the International Practice Pathway program, the experiential component of the School’s Global Public Affairs initiative that’s intended to expose students to a broad range of policy and practice in communities around the world.

No matter what facilitates their travel, every student working abroad this summer is driven by their innate curiosity about the world and motivated to better understand their circumstances and themselves. This year’s students are:

  • Sandra Bernabe (Social Welfare), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Humberto Castro (Urban Planning), Mexico City, Mexico
  • Carmen Chen (Urban Planning), Istanbul, Turkey
  • Shafaq Choudry (Urban Planning), Panama City, Panama
  • Cally Hardy (Urban Planning), India
  • Jason Karpman (Urban Planning), Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Mohan Khidia (Urban Planning), India
  • Joseph Lawlor (Urban Planning), Hyderabad, India
  • Maritza Lee (Urban Planning), Hyderabad, India
  • David Leipziger (Urban Planning), Nairobi, Kenya
  • Katie Merill (Social Welfare), Geneva, Switzerland
  • Marissa Sanchez (Urban Planning), Panama City, Panama
  • Ryan Sclar (Urban Planning), Chengdu, China
  • Elsie Silva (Social Welfare), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

The students will be blogging about their experiences on the UCLA Luskin Abroad blog.

Luskin Center’s Los Angeles River Greenway Toolkit project receives funding from Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation

Metro LA River photo_0The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation has a awarded a grant of approximately $80,000 to the Luskin Center to develop a “how-to” manual for community-driven greenway projects along the Los Angeles River. Recognizing the vast untapped potential for accessible active transportation and healthy recreational opportunities along the River, and several decades of progress already made by community-based non-profits and local government in the northern part of the River, the Luskin Center set out to compile, analyze and repackage decades of institutional wisdom into an accessible and application-oriented guide called a “toolkit.” This toolkit will present step-by-step instructions for community leaders interested in developing: 1) a multi-modal linear pathway along the Los Angeles River, 2) a River-adjacent green open space, 3) a neighborhood access point or 4) a multi-modal bridge to improve access across the River.

Despite several decades of grass-roots and local government attention to the Los Angeles River, communities still lack the resources and tools that they need to engage directly with the River revitalization process. The Los Angeles River Greenway Toolkit project fills a vital gap with an accessible and well-researched guide designed to support river-adjacent communities. Henry McCann is the project manager and is working with graduate student researchers Andrew Pasillas and Shafaq Choudry, in addition to collaborating with a myriad of community organizations.