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Peer Advisors

Contact any of the peer advisors if you have a question about the major and would like a student perspective!

Interested in becoming a peer advisor?  It’s a great way to be involved in the major, meet new people, and spread the word about Urban Studies!  Applications are due in May to Associate Director Michael Kahan.  You may download the application form (PDF).

Pablo Haake

Concentration:Urban Society and Social Change
Hometown: Davenport, Iowa
Year expecting to graduate: 2018
Honors thesis or other research project:

Email: pdhaake@stanford.edu

Hometown: Davenport, Iowa

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: Urban Studies offers a super comprehensive lens on contemporary societal issues and injustices, and what we can do about them. Coming into college, my goal was to best understand the world and what my role in contributing to progressive change should be and this community has been a great place to do it. The classes, professors, and other outside opportunities cover everything from sociology and history to urban design and politics: I love the combination of broad, macro-level learning with specific, practical learning. I've been able to apply what I've learned to work in economic development, urban planning, policy research, and community organizing. I plan to be involved in grassroots-based, scalable social change in the future, and I feel that understanding complex systems at the city level is the best way to do this.

What I like best about Urban Studies: The tight-knit community of students, professors, and alumni allow you to be easily heard and supported by others with similar interests. I’ve found everyone in the Urban Studies community to be kind, open, and deeply curious.

Favorite class / professor (and why): Overall, Gandhi in His Time and Ours with Aishwary Kumar, because the way we broke down Gandhi’s ideology totally blew my mind and challenged many of my long-held beliefs. In Urban Studies, probably the Urban Underclass with Michael Rosenfeld: it’s a very well-taught class and it covers some pretty essential aspects of urban studies using Chicago’s history of racial discrimination, residential segregation, urban “renewal,” and federally-subsidized suburbanization.

Favorite book (and why): Probably a tie between The Count of Monte Cristo and One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Career goal / Future plans: I have no set or clear idea of what I'll be doing in the future, but here's one possibility: I would love to work in community development, as a sort of urban consultant who travels to different cities to learn about their challenges (housing, food deserts, climate adaptation) and to connect stakeholders while suggesting urban design interventions and grassroots, collective responses.

Honors Thesis or other research project: I'm working on a senior project on Complete Streets based on research I conducted in my hometown, as well as an independent project where I'm combining an overview of major societal issues and a blueprint for society in the future.

Other academic interests (major, minors): History minor, focused on radical revolutions

Extracurriculars:

Los Salseros de Stanford, Community Manager of Outdoor House, ultimate frisbee, environmental justice advocacy

Sean Volavong

Concentration:Urban Society and Social Change
Hometown: Van Buren, Arkansas
Year expecting to graduate:
Honors thesis or other research project:

Why I'm majoring (or minoring) in Urban Studies: Growing up in a low-income community faced with economic disadvantages, I am passionate to develop and organize communities for positive change. Furthermore, from studying and living in the Bay Area, I have encountered urban development dilemmas such as unequitable affordable housing and accessible transportation that has hindered the quality of life of those living around me. By majoring in Urban Studies, I hope to learn the socioeconomic, academic, and urban planning contexts to mitigate these dilemmas in the Bay Area and beyond.

What I like best about Urban Studies: I love the Urban Studies community! Since the program is small, a feeling of intimacy flows through our peer advising events, our fabulous faculty advisors, and the growing relevance of the topics and discussions held in our classes and affiliated courses.
 
Favorite class / professor (and why): URBANST 123: Approaching Research and the Community with Clayton Hurd. The course exposes the nuances and necessities of community-based research in a traditional academic environment such as Stanford. Through readings, discussions, and planning a summer or year-long community-based project in the class, I reinforced my passion for an equitable social impact that involves all stakeholders (the community) rather than those with more academic, social, or political power that one would find in many urban planning and development situations.
 
Favorite book (and why): The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The innocence and freedom themes throughout the short but sweet novel reflect on how much my personality has positively and negatively changed since entering
Stanford and towards the end of my time here.
 
Career goal / Future plans: I hope to either pursue a career in urban planning (with a focus on housing policy) for rising and/or disadvantaged communities around the State of California or either enter the social impact
consulting world to improve the efficiency and productivity of nonprofits and philanthropic organizations around the United States.
 
Honors Thesis: During the summer of 2018 and during the 2018-2019 academic year, I will be researching and be writing an honors thesis that focuses on community-based reactions and measures on increased gentrification and the need for affordable housing developments in Northwest Arkansas. The area is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States due to the presence, headquarters, and investments of three Fortune-500 companies (Walmart, J.B. Hunt, and Tyson Foods) into the area. Although I call the area my hometown region, the physical and social infrastructures has changed dramatically during the short timespan of my college career. I am passionate to understand and create a collective community-based impact as I create deliverables not only for Stanford but also for those living in Northwest Arkansas to recommend short and long-term political and social actions.
 
Extracurriculars: Co-Director of Housing Equity for the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU); Residential Assistant for Narnia.
 
Something else you should know about me: I'm a black belt in Taekwondo!

Marisol Zarate

Concentration:Urban Society and Social Change
Hometown: San Bernardino
Year expecting to graduate:
Honors thesis or other research project:

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!

Terence Zhao

Concentration:Cities in Comparative and Historical Perspective
Hometown: Arcadia, CA and Beijing, China
Year expecting to graduate: 2018
Honors thesis or other research project:

Email: zhaoy@stanford.edu

Hometown: Arcadia, CA and Beijing, China Year expecting to graduate: 2019 Concentration in Urban Studies: Cities in Comparative and Historical Perspective Urban Studies is my: major Why I'm majoring (or minoring) in Urban Studies: I think cities are humans'

greatest and most fascinating creation, and in an increasingly urbanizing world, urban problems are human problems. I've lived in some sort of city for all of my life, and I love the fact that what I've learned in Urban Studies has been able to help me understand these and other cities on such a deeper level, and to be able to view problems and solutions in cities today from a critical and informed angle.

What I like best about Urban Studies: I love the small size and personal feel of the program. Urban Studies is a really tight-knit community where I've felt at home and have been fortunate enough to meet so many like-minded peers that I now call friends. I've also had incredible support from my professors and advisers without whom my academic and professional development would not have been possible.

Honors Thesis or other research project: I am writing my honors thesis on demographic and physical change in the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles, where I grew up. The area has shifted from a sleepy, overwhelmingly white chain of suburbs into one of the nation's largest and most vibrant Asian American communities in the past few decades, and my thesis seeks to explore the dynamics behind this transformation.

Other academic interests (major, minors): Coterminal M.A. - Sociology

Extracurriculars:

Stanford in Government

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