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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 Co-Director Michael Kahan.  You may download the application form (PDF).

Photo of Ruben Anguiano

Ruben Anguiano

Concentration:Urban Society and Social Change
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Year expecting to graduate: 2021
Honors thesis or other research project:Yes, honors thesis!

Pronouns: He/Him

Why I'm majoring in Urban Studies:

I Love Urban Studies. This interdisciplinary major allows me to pursue my interests in community development, neighborhood change, regionalism, and social inequalities. I have the opportunity to take classes in housing, education, environmental justice, public health, art, economics, and so much more. I also have the opportunity to work on real-life projects, engage in a variety of field work, and learn from working professionals. Ultimately, I am majoring in urban studies because I want to keep learning about the inequities in our urban society as well as the ways to address them.

What I like best about Urban Studies:

The people in urban studies are really clutch! Everybody in the program is super passionate, welcoming, and down-to-earth. We are a small but mighty cohort!

Since you are pursuing an honor thesis, tell us about it:

I am pursuing an honors thesis on the self-perceptions of urban planners and how this self-perception impacts the community engagement process.

Career goal / Future plans:

I intend on pursuing a master’s degree in urban and regional planning. I want to be an urban planner and work towards equitable, inclusive, and sustainable neighborhoods while using urban planning as a tool for liberation.

Fun fact about you:

I love pancakes and eating all types of food! I also enjoy gardening!

Marisol Rodriguez

Marisol Rodriguez

Concentration:Urban Society and Social Change
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Year expecting to graduate: 2021
Honors thesis or other research project:Yes, honors thesis!

Pronouns: She/Her

Why I'm majoring in Urban Studies:

I have always been extremely proud of being raised in my neighborhood of San Ysidro, California, a tight-knit community of primarily Latino immigrants. However, it wasn't until discovering the Urban Studies program at Stanford that I began to analyze why the hard work of my community was often not matched with proper access to educational, economic, and representational opportunities. Urban Studies courses have allowed me to understand the systemic factors involved in shaping our cities and how reflect on how we can highlight the voices of groups often left underrepresented.

What I like best about Urban Studies:

There are two main things that I appreciate most about Urban Studies. First, I truly value how holistic the program is, from offering hands-on courses that challenge students to design sustainable and welcoming neighborhoods, to reading-intensive courses that unveil the history of systems of inequality and their effect on minority communities. Second, I am truly appreciative of how passionate yet approachable both professors and students are in the program as this has played a huge role in my ability to grow with and learn from their expertise and individual experiences.

Since you are pursuing an honor thesis, tell us about it:

I am very excited to be pursuing an honors thesis! My project consists of studying how the prevalence of highways in border-town neighborhoods impact the social identity of its residents. Mainly, I want to understand how residents in these neighborhoods come to define their understanding of 'community,' and how this might be limited by the spatial boundaries created by the highways. Overall, I am very excited to be conducting a case study in my hometown of San Ysidro, California!

Career goal / Future plans:

I am also planning to major in Political Science (fingers crossed)! I am interested in applying to law school, perhaps focusing in Civil Rights Law. Another consideration running through my mind is becoming involved in local politics.This idea feels far-fetched but I would love to return to serve members of my community.

Fun fact about you:

I am undefeated in Mario Kart and Sequence (for the most part). Also! I love watching scary movies and political talk shows like John Oliver/Trevor Noah.

Photo of Shania Santana

Shania Santana

Concentration:Urban Society and Social Change
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Year expecting to graduate: 2021
Honors thesis or other research project:Yes, honors thesis!

Pronouns: She/Her

Why I'm majoring in Urban Studies: 

I am majoring in urban studies because it gave me the opportunity to bring my whole self into the classroom. Urban studies is an interdisciplinary program and has the flexibility to allow me to incorporate all of my interests into my major-- my love for cities, environmental justice, education, housing, transportation, neighborhood change, art, community, public health, and more. Furthermore, in my urban studies classes and activities, my lived experiences are respected, valued, and welcomed by my peers and my teachers. The content in the major is incredibly relevant and important to understanding how cities got to where they are today. I am an urban studies major because to me, urban studies is the way in which I learn how to address social injustice and be equipped with the understanding to then actually do my part.

What I like best about Urban Studies

Definitely all the people! Everyone in the urban studies program is incredibly supportive, excited to change the world, and passionate about everything they’re involved in. My peers involved in the urban studies program are some of the sweetest, most genuine and caring individuals I’ve met. I also loved doing the Stanford in New York off campus program in the fall quarter of my junior year, the theme was: The Arts, Architecture, Design and Urban Studies, and it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had while at Stanford.

Since you are pursuing an honor thesis, tell us about it: 

My thesis will explore the process of community-led urban planning in Chicago, Illinois, identifies the community institutions leading these efforts, and investigates if collaboration between community institutions and urban planners is a key aspect of community-led urban planning. Recently, neighborhoods across Chicago have experienced physical and social change due to urban revitalization, city politics, violence, gentrification, and population change among other things. However, the narrative of these changes center improvement efforts made by city officials and overlook efforts led by community organizations and local stakeholders. Therefore, using a combination of case studies of particular community organizations and interviews with members of those organizations and with city urban planners, I seek to understand the process and narratives of community-led urban planning in Chicago. I believe that understanding this process can lead to an understanding of how we can repair and restore marginalized neighborhoods.

Career goal / Future plans: 

One of my goals is to obtain a master’s in urban and regional planning because I will be an urban planner one day. I will learn how to use urban planning for liberation and community empowerment. In the future, I will pursue all that brings me happiness and growth.

Fun fact about you: 

A fun fact about me is that I make too many specific movie references in conversations with friends. Also, I have a cat named Pipette and a dog named Kiwi and I love them both.

Photo of Andrew Skelton

Andrew Skelton

Concentration:Urban Society and Social Change
Hometown: San Mateo, CA
Year expecting to graduate: 2021
Honors thesis or other research project:Exploring research project options

Pronouns: He/Him

Why I'm majoring in Urban Studies:

I really love that Urban Studies is such an interdisciplinary major. I think it gives us the opportunity to understand urban institutions, processes, and environments from a lot of different perspectives and disciplines, which allows us to really tailor our education to fit what we're interested in. I also think it's great that there's a lot of focus on local institutions and communities, because it's given me the tools to think critically about how and where I grew up. I think this is an amazing way to create a framework for how we think about urban equity, because it grounds our learning in real experiences and communities.

What I like best about Urban Studies:

My favorite thing about Urban Studies by far is the other students in the program. I get really excited whenever I get the chance to hang out with or talk to other Urban Studies majors because of how supportive, friendly, and passionate they are. I think students in the program have developed a really wonderful culture of being really supportive of one another, and it makes it a really wonderful experience to be involved with the program.

Career goal / Future plans:

After undergrad I'd like to get a Master's degree in Sociology, and after that I'm interested in doing some sort of work that focuses on equitable urban sustainability. But I also know that plans can change all the time so we'll see where it goes!

Fun fact about you:

I have to get all of my shoes online because most stores don't carry shoes in my size! Also, my hot take is that spicy gushers should be considered in the takis vs. hot cheetos debate