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Mariam Malakzi: My journey as RTPI Trust Bursary recipient

Mariam Malakzi is a 2023 Recipient of the RTPI Trust Bursary. The aim of the bursary is to promote and support diversity within and to widen access to the planning profession.

Hello everyone! I am thrilled to share my journey as a recipient of this year's diversity bursary scheme. Being granted this opportunity has been a significant steppingstone in my pursuit of becoming a professional planner.

My name is Mariam and I have recently completed an RTPI accredited integrated master's degree in Town and Regional Planning at the University of Liverpool. The four years I have spent studying in Liverpool have provided me with the opportunity to explore a variety of different areas within the planning sphere and their profound impact on society. I am now eager to embark on a fulfilling career that cultivates my passion for sustainable place-making and the constructive evolution of communities through thoughtful planning.

What's great about planning?

Planning is an art that merges creativity and logic. It is a discipline that fosters a harmonious coexistence between natural landscapes and man-made structures while balancing the diverse needs of different stakeholders. As planners we have the unique ability to shape the world around us, creating spaces that resonate with people's needs and aspirations. Whether it's designing eco-friendly neighbourhoods, revitalising historical sites, or addressing complex urban challenges, planning empowers us to make a lasting and positive impact on the lives of current and future generations.

Why I want to become a planner:

I have always found it interesting to hear how planners came to choose their career path, as I find it a somewhat niche profession that most people I meet haven’t considered. For me personally, I had chosen science subjects and art at A level which isn’t the natural progression into a planning career. However, after submitting my UCAS application for science subjects at university and after receiving offers, I had a realisation that science wasn’t the route I wanted to go down.

I am so thankful I made that choice then and took the risk to reapply and change my career path, as I have always felt extremely happy with my course and excited for the career prospects of it. This change was in part triggered by Extended Project Qualification, which allowed me to explore and build on my passions for design and sustainability within the built environment.

My decision also stemmed from my passion for art. I wanted to choose a degree that incorporated an element of design and creativity into problem solving. Further to my initial decision to study planning at university, I have also come to realise the meaningful contribution and sense of purpose I can gain from my career as a planner, contributing to both sustainable development and social equity. As I aspire to be an agent of change, creating urban spaces that promote inclusivity, environmental preservation, and a sense of belonging brings me motivation on my path to becoming a chartered planner.

The impact of the RTPI Trust Bursary:

The bursary has been extremely helpful in my pursuit of becoming a planner. It has lightened the financial burden of higher education, allowing me to focus wholeheartedly on learning and growth. This bursary has also provided me with the opportunity to continue to further my knowledge in an environment that values diverse perspectives that bring innovative ideas to the planning sector. I believe that innovative ideas are crucial in leading to creative solutions that solve complex urban problems in a society that is increasingly diverse in itself. Additionally, being the recipient of this bursary has given me an extra boost in confidence in pursuit of my next steps to chartership after recently graduating.

Moving forward, I am excited to embrace every challenge, learn from every experience, and contribute my best to building sustainable, vibrant, and thriving communities. I am confident that with passion, dedication, and the support of programmes like this bursary, others and I will be able to make a positive impact and contribute to shaping a better future for our cities and regions.

Thank you for reading!

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