Daria Young grad portrait on the bluff

Major: Urban Studies and Sociology
Next Step: UCLA's Graduate Program in Urban and Regional Planning 

Daria Young, an urban studies and sociology double major, is preparing to attend UCLA’s graduate program in urban planning. For Young, this has been a long time coming. She has always been drawn to planning, and more specifically to the development of affordable housing in Los Angeles. While Young chose LMU in part because of its urban studies program, she was also drawn to its emphasis on Ignatian values, its small class sizes, and commitment to educating the whole person. “Since I first stepped foot onto campus, I instantly felt a sense of community and belonging,” said Young.

As Young delved into her urban studies coursework she became increasingly interested in sociology and its importance to her as an engaged citizen and future planner. She added it as a second major, because it “allows one to understand social groups and why society functions in the ways that it does,” and offers “a deeper understanding of society that will be beneficial in my future career.” Young sees the two majors intersecting in many important ways. “While urban studies provides a foundation for planning practice and how city government works, sociology is very complimentary in helping one understand the social groups that you are working with.” Ultimately, Young has learned that “to be a good planner you do not make the choices for the city, but instead ask the various groups in the city what they need and how you can help.”

While Young is thankful for all the professors she has had throughout her time at LMU, she is particularly thankful for Nathan Sessoms, senior lecturer of sociology. “He has been a great mentor taking time to teach me more about equitable planning and how to be an active member and listener in communities.” Pete Hoffman, chair of the LMU Urban and Environmental Studies Department, has also always been encouraging and open to offering advice and guidance.

When considering what advice she would impart to current BCLA students, Young is a big proponent of exploring interests through electives. Young’s impressive academic resume includes a minor in theological studies. She added it after taking a theology elective on Judaism and has since discovered a great interest in studying world religions.

Beyond the classroom, Young pursued an internship in the City of Orange’s Community Development/Urban Planning Department. Although she was nervous, she quickly became more comfortable after taking time to look back at her class notes from Professor Hoffman’s Urban World and Urban Planning courses. “I realized I already knew how to do a lot of the projects because I had built strong foundational skills at LMU,” said Young. “I was also surprised by how much of my sociology knowledge helped me in making choices on housing and other projects. When doing simple tasks such as approving a home renovation, I did so by trying to understand the communities I was working with, and how my choices may impact them.”

Young’s internship with the City of Orange assured her that she is pursuing the right career path and affirmed her decision to pursue further education. She also had an internship mentor who always made sure to use an equitable approach in planning, an approach that Young values and was a major selling point of UCLA’s program. In the future, she hopes to work for a city or non-profit organization where she can continue her quest to improve the affordable housing stock in L.A.