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Student Profile: Elizabeth Donnelly

Elizabeth Donnelly

Course: MA Planning, Policy and Practice, London South Bank University

Why did you choose to study planning?

I loved geography at school. I really enjoyed learning about different places throughout the world, especially topics that were connected to cities. As a result I studied Geography at undergraduate level, where the likes of Ebeneezer Howard's garden cities and Le Corbusier's high rise towers sparked an interest in planning and the built environment. After graduating, I started working in an admin role in the planning department at the London Borough of Lewisham. Having entered the planning world, my interest in the profession grew and I wanted to play an active role in making Lewisham a better place. This led to my enrolment onto the MA in Planning, Policy and Practice course at London Southbank University.

I was lucky enough to start working as a planning officer at the London Borough of Lewisham whilst studying for my degree. Having graduated, I am still there and am busy gaining new experiences and knowledge every day. I thoroughly enjoy working as a public sector planning officer and am hoping to achieve full RTPI membership by early 2016!

What has been the best thing about studying planning?

I had lectures walking down Brick Lane and along the Southbank, on a coach driving through Anfield in Liverpool and a week full of insight into the planning system in Turin in Italy. As well as having a lot of fun, these field trips really helped to bring to life and reinforce what had been taught within the classroom.

Top tip for future planners?

Look around you – use existing development to help you and to inform your decisions, it can show you good examples of planning, bad examples of planning and sometimes it just helps things to make sense! Also, embrace change, planning is forever changing and the learning never stops.

Why would you recommend that students consider a career in planning?

If you like change, constant challenge and seeing the results of your hard work in the built environment around you, a career in planning could be for you. The multi-dimensional and ever changing nature of planning keeps you on your toes but provides a very valuable, varied and interesting wealth of knowledge, skills and experience.

The RTPI supports each accredited Planning School by offering a student prize to be awarded  to a high performing student. Elizabeth received the RTPI Student Prize 2014-15 for her postgraduate studies at London South Bank University. 

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