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Leila Mengesha

Leila Mengesha


Why I'm majoring in Urban Studies: When I discovered Urban Studies as a freshmen, it felt like the perfect intersection of my interests in history, urban inequality, and the physical and social segmentation of space. As an upperclassman, my Urban Studies classes remind me how much I love to learn, especially about the intersection of policy, community action, history, and justice.

What I like best about Urban Studies: Urban Studies brings together a diverse group of students with interdisciplinary interests and areas of concentration! I am constantly blown away by the niche interests of those around me and how willing people are to add their knowledge to a debate on anything from housing reform to zoning powers. Urban Studies is also an incredible major for skill building, with classes that focus on building skills and experience with tools required for research, community engagement, or work in the urban planning sector.

Favorite class / professor (and why): The best class I've taken at Stanford was Urban Underclass with Michael Rosenfeld. The class spent ten weeks delving deep into different aspects of Chicago that allowed for the development of one of the most segregated cities in the United States. The class had a diverse set of readings that explored policy, history, community based research, and even biography. It was a wonderfully organized class, I loved the readings and lecture, and the assignments allowed me to explore segregation and the changing demographics of my hometown.

Honors Thesis or other research project: I'm currently developing my Honors Thesis on the minibus system in Cape Town, South Africa. I'm interested in how digital mapping systems will impact the existing informal taxi system that services Cape Town and surrounding townships.

Other academic interests (major, minors): I am double minoring in African and African American Studies and Earth Systems