News | METRANS Student Worker Emily Ng Looks to Build a Career in Urban Sustainability

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by Jacob Wong, USC Master of Public Policy, 2023

Emily Ng, a second-year Master of Urban Planning (MUP) student at the USC Price School, is looking to build on her background in environmental justice through her degree program by learning more about how the urban built environment affects sustainability initiatives that she is passionate about.


Hailing from South Pasadena, Ng attended Pitzer College in Claremont where she double-majored in sociology and environmental analysis. After graduating college in 2020, Ng continued to pursue these interests through a CivicSpark AmeriCorps fellowship program at the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, where she gained first-hand exposure to the City’s sustainability initiatives and learned more about how these policies were implemented at the local level. 


Equipped with a strong background in the sustainability field through her education and work experiences, Ng decided to apply to the USC Price School’s MUP program for Fall 2021 to gain a more holistic understanding of sustainability issues through urban planning theories and practice.  


Emily Ng, Master of Urban Planning, USC Price


“Through the urban planning program, I’m able to complement my undergraduate background with a deeper understanding of the built environment,” said Ng. “I’ve learned more about land-use, transportation, and economic development planning, and how all of these factors in the built environment can come together to build sustainable and equitable communities.”


During her time at the Price School, Ng has been able to pick up technical skills through her classes, such as coding in Python and spatial analysis with ArcGIS. “Through these skills I’m able to portray a lot of environmental justice and equity issues into visual representations that are easy for others to understand and digest,” she said.


Ng had a chance to connect with USC’s extensive alumni network when she joined the University’s Asian Pacific Alumni Association as a scholar in her first year. As a scholar with the Association, she has been able to meet AAPI alumni from USC and past scholars. “That experience really showed me how close-knit the broader USC community is,” said Ng.


Ng has also made an effort to mentor the next generation of USC students through her involvements. In her first year, she volunteered as a mentor in Mentorship for an Accessible Price (MAP), which carried personal significance to her as a former MAP mentee while applying to USC. Ng also volunteers as a Price Student Ambassador, which allows her to serve as a representative for prospective students. 


Through her Price MUP program, Ng has come to understand the interdisciplinary nature of urban sustainability issues and enjoys opportunities to learn from colleagues in other planning fields. Ng is pursuing a climate change and sustainability concentration within her MUP degree, but when she began her program she also wanted to learn more about transportation. After speaking with Price Student Ambassadors, she decided to join METRANS as a student worker to gain exposure to transportation research and meet MUP students who were studying in that field.


At METRANS, Ng has been a contributor to the student newsletter and currently serves as its Opportunities Editor. In this position, she posts jobs and scholarship opportunities for students in the transportation field. Overall, she has been grateful for the opportunity to connect with and learn from students in the transportation field through her involvement with the consortium. 


“Through METRANS, I have met a lot of other students, specifically in the transportation concentration but also generally outside of my environmental concentration, and I have been able to learn a lot from them,” said Ng.


As she prepares to finish her MUP degree in the spring, Ng hopes to stay near Los Angeles after USC. “I really love LA and I want to continue to grow my career here, especially because this city is a top leader in climate and sustainability work and also has a lot of planning issues to improve on,” she said. 


In addition to Ng’s professional aspirations, something else keeping her close to home is the area’s vibrant food scene, especially around her hometown of South Pasadena. “Living in the San Gabriel Valley, there’s a lot of great family-owned restaurants that I like to support. Since things have opened up since COVID, I’ve enjoyed tasting the local food and supporting these local businesses,” she said. Whether it’s a career in environmental policy or local mom-and-pop restaurants to try, Ng looks forward to whatever new opportunities the Los Angeles area will bring as she looks ahead beyond graduate school.


About the Author:

Jacob is a second-year MPP student at the Price School of Public Policy. He is interested in urban policy and transportation planning issues. As a recent LA transplant, he enjoys exploring the area and the local food scene in his free time.