Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

At school, I learned the various fabrics of policies: the history, its enforcement, and their impact on underserved communities. As I read the literature and newspapers I wanted to meet the individuals affected by inequity in the city. That frustration turned into motivation that propelled me to ask myself “Who lives in these communities? And what would it take for them to become resilient?”. My desire to learn manifested in 3 years supporting communities by providing them with legal assistance, advocacy, and a public platform to advocate for themselves.

My first transformative experience began in 2016, as a Tenant’s Rights intern at the Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project (CDP). There, I worked with a partnering organization, the Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI), which advocates for the human rights of people with criminal convictions. At PRI I served as a housing policy advocate where I made recommendations to the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) legal department on subjects such as access to legal representation, and permanent exclusion cases, which excluded justice-involved individuals from visiting the premises, resulting in family separation. In this role, I worked to create fair housing opportunities for disadvantaged and at-risk populations by tackling discriminatory policies. I collaborated with CDP’s housing rights lawyers to draft and present against the NYC Department of Investigation (DOI) for the City Council Hearing on NYCHA’s use of criminal records to terminate tenancies.

My passion for community development has allowed me to situate fair policies in a broader intersectional framework to pursue justice and democracy, especially for marginalized individuals who are negatively impacted. For Fall, I intend to pursue my Master’s in City and Regional Planning to develop an understanding of community development to identify neighborhood priorities, promote social change, a strong local economy, and access to affordable housing.

Fransini from New York
Pratt Institute-Main