In her own words
Lupe Renteria Salome
My upbringing in the multi-racial community of City Heights, my grassroots organizing work, and research experience have propelled me to seek a degree in Urban Planning at the University of California Los Angeles. City Heights is a dense neighborhood rich in diversity: a home for Subsaharan African, Southeast Asian, and Central refugees, as well as to immigrants from Mexico. My neighborhood was divided after CalTrans ran Interstate 15 right through the middle, displacing families from their homes and leaving no space for parks and recreation facilities. The Urban and Regional Planning Program at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs offers an opportunity for me to further understand how I might advance equity and inclusion through urban policy development and implementation. I first became deeply aware of the importance of urban planning in shaping the quality of life for low-income communities as an advocate to advance a campaign to develop a skatepark. I helped conduct a Health Impact Assessment and supported a proposal focused on an empty dirt lot that was owned by the city but leased to a local YMCA. This experience motivated me to serve as the youngest member of the City Heights Area Planning Committee at the age of 17, with the purpose of providing community input on land-use decisions. I also witnessed the power and value of community organizing, leadership, partnership, and the critical importance of community voice in effective public planning that contributed to a successful campaign for more recreational facilities in my community. Completing my degree can provide tools and strategies that can work towards cultural competency and creative problem-solving skills for trust building in the community to advance equity and inclusion. Ultimately, I want to use the skills I learn to shorten the gap between systems, institutions and community and learn how to approach public involvement programs for disadvantaged communities that include health, wellness, and environmental justice elements.