By Grace Reilein.
“Auburn gave me a plethora of perspectives to build my knowledge on,” stated Max Garcia, Auburn University Alumnus, and former Office of Sustainability Intern. In 2018, Max graduated from Auburn to become a world changemaker, but credits his start down the changemaker pathway to his time at Auburn University. He graduated from Auburn with a degree in Environmental Design and minors in Urban Environmental Science and Rural Community Development and works today as a city planner. When deciding his career path, Max knew that he wanted to positively impact his environment, and he found that city planning met many of his interests. In his endeavor to develop cities more sustainably, Max Garcia contributes toward Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.
When asked about how his time at Auburn influenced his career, Max reflected on the diverse set of academic perspectives that he was exposed to during school. Auburn allowed him to explore topics that he was interested in. He got to dabble in political science, landscape architecture, rural sociology, inclusive design standards, and more. These areas pulled his interest toward city planning because he could combine all these topics into his practice. This accumulation of knowledge contributed to his understanding of how to develop cities responsibly. As an Auburn student, Max had a junior year fellowship with a political science professor, and he was an intern with the Office of Sustainability. Between his classes, fellowship, and internship, Max learned about community planning, urban design standards, and how to create safe spaces in an urban environment. He believes that Auburn has a great diversity of professors and is an incredible research school, and both factors contributed to where he is today.
Apart from his strictly educational endeavors, Max was also involved in both on-campus and off-campus volunteer work. From Campus Kitchens at Auburn University to volunteering for the Auburn City Festival, Max always found ways to be involved with the community supporting his university. At the Office of Sustainability, he worked as the Graphic Design Intern. In this role, he assisted the office by making educational posters and promotional material for the Office’s endeavors. In this role, Max got to see the inner working of the university, and how sustainability touched many different parts of campus. The Office of Sustainability worked with other departments like Tiger Dining, Engineering, and many others to make the Auburn community better. The Office of Sustainability showed him the “bigger picture” and the way that engineering, and utilities are intertwined. His experience in this internship showed him what a city planner needs to value when planning for sustainable cities and communities.
To close this article, Max has some advice for those looking into a career in city planning, or more broadly, a career in sustainability. For city planning, he suggests patience and observance and says to “find what you are passionate about within the field.” There are various careers within city planning, from solar field development to conservation planning. He encourages future city planners to start finding opportunities to learn more about what they are interested in. For sustainability, he says to “break your fears and ignore the speculation.” The world is headed toward a more equitable and renewable future, regardless of what others may say. In sustainability, you can find an area for sustainable development in any sector. Max again encourages patience, a willingness to listen to opinions that differ from your own, and not to get discouraged. Auburn University helped shape Max Garcia to be the community changemaker he is today and provides current students with the opportunities to make a change. Max’s career intertwines with SDG 11, and he is working to make cities more inclusive, safe, reliable, and sustainable. With the opportunities that Auburn has to offer its students, many more changemakers are to come. Are you next?
Post contributed by Grace Reilein, Program Coordinator, Office of Sustainability
Learn about the SDGs & AU and Auburn’s contributions related to this post: