News | Micha Kempe: from METRANS Mentee to USC Transportation Management Coordinator

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by Adylbek Abdykalikov, USC, IPPAM 2020

Meet Micha Kempe, former Transportation Demand Management Coordinator at USC Transportation. Kempe is a USC alum: he earned a Bachelor of Science in Real Estate Development from USC Price with a minor in Business Administration from USC Marshall. To further explore his interest in transportation and for his professional development, Kempe participated in the METRANS Mentorship Program during his undergraduate career.


Micha Kempe


Before joining the team at USC Transportation, Kempe was interested in and involved with the transportation field during his study at USC.  He contributed to solving local transportation problems. by founding the USC Mobility Lab, a collaboration with METRANS and USC Transportation. Kempe shared that Mobility Lab focuses on analyzing mobility data and solving transportation problems. Kempe was actively involved with many organizations and initiatives while an undergraduate, and  combined with his outstanding academic performance, this involvement led to one of his major accomplishments as a student: upon his graduation, Kempe received the Order of the Laurel and the Palm. This award is the highest honor for graduating students, and it is accorded to less than one percent of undergraduates, recognizing leadership that touches multiple facets of university life. Reflecting on this experience, Kempe advises students to find an organization with similar values to your own and help said organization out wherever possible. "Be involved in the organization and network with everyone you meet," added Kempe.


Within his time in undergrad, Kempe found participating in the METRANS Mentorship program extremely valuable. He enjoyed spending time with his mentor Russel Babbitz, Principal Real Estate Officer, Planning/Real Estate at LA Metro. "Russel has helped me clear my thought process on what I want to accomplish in my career both as a student as well as after graduation. Russel gives me advice and steers me in the right direction, and [warns me] when I need to change direction," shared Kempe. Babbitz himself highly recommends the program for both mentors and mentees and testifies to the success of the program, declaring that mentoring Kempe took him “back to [his] days in college.” One of his main goals as a mentor was to enable Kempe to predict and perfect “how he would be perceived as a job applicant” based on his qualifications.


Micha Kempe with his mentor Russ Babbitz


Kempe believes that the main benefit of the mentorship program lies in broadening students’ horizons. It was vital for him to participate in the program because engaging with mentors stimulated his professional growth, both in areas within and beyond his immediate focus of study. "This was a great experience because I spent time with my mentor learning about computer science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence." He attributes part of his current success in his career to his participations as a mentee in the Mentorship program. Babbitz provided the eager mentee with advice and guidance, and Kempe is now at work doing what he loves. Even though Kempe is no longer a student, Babbitz noted that “it is a continuing pleasure mentoring and communicating with Micha,” as the two still remain in contact.


Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Kempe assisted with USC's Commuter Pass program and oversaw day-to-day activities in his position with USC Transportation. Specifically, he engaged with the execution of the U-Pass Program for Graduate and Undergraduate Students. Another essential part of his job was to promote alternative transportation, in part by spreading word of the unique transportation programs that the University offers. Kempe tackled this by researching alternative commuter incentives and programs at the University Park and Health Sciences campuses, ultimately choosing the most effective methods to promote in depth. Kempe was also responsible for assisting the Rideshare Coordinator, Maira Sanchez, and fellow staff with various projects. He played a lead role in dispersing the AQMD survey as part of Rule 2202, Employee Commute Reduction Program, and is a certified Employee Transportation Coordinator. During his six moonth contract with USC, Kempe accomplished a great deal and is just getting started in his career.


We wish Micha Kempe success in his career and are certainly looking forward to his many contributions in the mobility industry.


About the Author:

Adylbek Abdykalikov is a recent graduate of the Masters of International Public Policy and Management Program at USC Price. He has working experience in various positions at the Ministries of Transport and Communication and Investment and Development of Kazakhstan and was in charge of Transportation and Civil Aviation policy development and implementation. He served as the lead writer to METRANS Newsletter and lead student event coordinator for METRANS and PSR.