Changing Focus: My Masters Journey

Joaquin Cabello ’19 (R) recently graduated from the MA Urban & Public Affairs (UPA) Program, pictured above with UPA Faculty Director, Dr. Rachel Brahinsky (L), spending the last 2 years in San Francisco after travelling from his home in Chile. He explains in this week’s blog the growth he has experienced through by being part of the program, in addition to serving as Student Photographer for the past two years.

When I moved from Chile in 2017 for the MA in Urban and Public Affairs program, I  had just one idea in mind – become an urban planner. But things started to change for me, exposing myself to the changing world as well as seeing the convergece of different social problems. The UPA program, for these reasons, was a very attractive program to understand and generate awareness on how cities are led and where they are progressing.

Once I became a little more involved in the Leo T. McCarthy Center, I had the opportunity to show another of my abilities – photography. By interacting with students and attending various McCarthy Center events, some of the same social problems that were mentioned during the classes would be present, and it was extremely interesting to be able to capture them through my camera and my eye, situations that are undoubtedly part of the machinery of the city.

This was how the program became an enriching experience, not so much for my background as an architect, but more for my development as a person, towards being more integrated than before. This meant something to me as someone that is not framed within what is commonly known as normality, not only because of who I am, but also because of my disparate interests which is reflected in the amount of activities I do.

The program more than just increased my knowledge base, it opened doors for me to know more about things I did not know I had a deep interest in. From the beginning, I had it in my head that I wanted to be an urban planner. Having graduated earlie rthis year, my approach now gears towards social integration, emphasizing community engagement of marginalized populations – something which was always a point of interest for me, but one I never realized that was so important.

Recently, a classmate asked me what it felt like to do a master’s degree in your non-native language. I never really saw it as a problem, but as an opportunity to develop as a person. Though there are many difficulties for international students, the program’s ability to be inclusive is tremendous, which is appreciated so much. I was able to meet unique people with different points of view and that, in one way or another, helped me in the development of not only my knowledge and understanding of society, in addition to understanding issues that in my home country are not yet part of the social discourse or considered in the social development of cities, but certainly are on their way to become part of it.

The MA in Urban and Public Affairs is not only a place where you are going to learn about certain topics, but it’s also about making connections and meeting people that are for sure going to help you in learning more about society, cities and certainly the world.

Check out some of Joaquin’s photography with us on our Flickr:

USF Votes Fall Move-in Day
Mo’Magic Health Fair/ Backpack Giveaway
Middle Schools Literacies – Tech Week
Community Partner – Handful Players


jgpearson • September 5, 2019

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