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Marisol Zarate

Marisol Zarate


Year expecting to graduate: 2019

Concentration in Urban Studies: Urban Society and Social Change Urban Studies is my: major Why I'm majoring (or minoring) in Urban Studies:

I'm majoring in Urban Studies because I am incredibly passionate about the systemic problems affecting the communities I come from. Growing up in a high crime and low-income neighborhood, I became deeply motivated to find solutions to social and economic inequalities that are sometimes hyper-present in cities. The Urban Studies major allows me to consider how policy, sociology, economics and design work together to create positive and negative outcomes in cities like my hometown and beyond.


What I like best about Urban Studies:

I love that Urban Studies pushes me to connect the theoretical solutions we learn about in class to today's real-life problems. Most of the assignments in Urban Studies courses are project-based and require us to be proximate with different communities. Because of this structure, many classes have a spirit of service and awareness as well as a focus towards actionable solutions. The spirit of service is present both in my peers and in the faculty advisors, and it makes my learning much more personal to me.


Favorite class / professor (and why):

Civil Rights Law, with Alberto Ruisanchez.

The class was an introductory course to civil rights where we looked at monumental cases and built arguments using the statutory language of the law.

Alberto, who is a Deputy Council in the Civil Rights Division for the Department of Justice, was incredibly engaging and inspiring. He tested us on the spot and pushed us to not only apply the law to hypothetical scenarios, but to build empathy for the people whom the law protects. Before introducing any piece of legislation he would contextualize the law by reminding us how discrimination affected marginalized communities in America's history.


Favorite book (and why):

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.

Just Mercy is a book about the death penalty, redemption and justice. It is a beautiful, and truthful account about Stevenson's experiences as a lawyer working with individuals in death row.  The book was one of the first texts that made me passionate about criminal justice reform and made me rethink my definition of "justice."


Career goal / Future plans:

I hope to go to law school and become a public defender for youth in the justice system. Before going to law school though, I would love to work for a housing agency or non-profit that helps individuals who are homeless.


Honors Thesis or other research project:

I am currently working on an honors thesis that explores the neighborhood experiences of at-risk youth and previously incarcerated youth in Los Angeles. I am intrigued to explore the ways neighborhood context can shape an individual's decisions and outcomes.


Other academic interests (major, minors): Political Science

Extracurriculars: Co-Director of Community Centers and Diversity for the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU); Residential Assistant for Casa Zapata Something else you should know about me: I love coffee and I like to bake when I'm stressed!! it's always a yummy time!