By: Drew Quin, MPL
Rachel Krusenoski first heard of SCAG (Southern California Association of Governments) at the 2017 California Transportation Foundation annual symposium. A senior PPD major in the USC Price school and the President of the USC chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, Krusenoski has long held an interest in transportation planning and had interest in obtaining an internship in this field.
Fortunately for Rachel one of her USC professors was a former employee of SCAG and suggested she attend a GIS student competition workshop SCAG was hosting. After attending the event and networking she checked the availability of summer internships on their website and, ultimately, applied and was hired.
“I work in the Compliance and Performance Monitoring department, specifically on the organization’s Intergovernmental Review Process and Regional Housing Needs Assessment,” Rachel told METRANS on the MOVE. She described SCAG as an organization working primarily in transportation planning and long-range planning for 6 counties in Southern California. Working on the Regional Housing Needs Assessment helped Rachel understand more about affordable housing in Southern California and how individual projects and efforts fit into the larger regional vision.
This ability to expand her understanding of planning beyond just transportation has been another benefit of the internship. During her time at SCAG Rachel has worked with the Environmental Justice Working Group, which she values for its consideration of three topics of importance to her: social justice, equity, and the environment.
She also helped develop a GIS-based public mapping tool that allows people to search and identify ongoing developments in Southern California. “It was really good exposure [to] software, especially [seeing] it built from the back end,” Rachel added.
When asked about her future in transportation planning Rachel responded, “I am not exactly sure what my future holds… I have been really interested in being so involved in policy-heavy transportation planning.” The SCAG internship has been great, according to Rachel, because it blended policy and planning, particularly long-range planning. “I can see myself working at a place like SCAG in the future, especially because it is a government agency and works towards improving people’s lives, not profit.”
“I think the best I can do is to work hard to be involved with organizations I believe in that work toward creating a more sustainable and equitable future.” When asked about her role as a future leader in ensuring this more sustainable and equitable future Rachel said, “I think that much of my career will be dedicated to public service and working in government. I always try to think about the phrase: ‘Work hard at work worth doing’.”
Sustainable technology of the future particularly interests Rachel. In addition to an interest in the many local and regional transportation initiatives for the 2028 Olympics she added, I am really excited to see how electric vehicles will become more accessible and cheaper and what effect that will have on air quality in Southern California.”
Rachel’s final thought on her internship was that she was very grateful to the USC Price and Viterbi communities for strong professional mentorship and many opportunities for connections. “I think it is a very exciting time to be in transportation because so many things are changing and evolving… I do not think I would [have been] successful finding this internship without [USC].”
About the Author:
Drew Quinn is a Master of Planning student at the University of Southern California with a concentration in Transportation. Originally from Atlantic City, New Jersey, Mr. Quinn received a B.A. in History from The George Washington University in Washington, DC and has previously lived in Philadelphia and Madrid. Mr. Quinn serves as the Lead Editor for METRANS on the Move and is also the President and Founder of Trees by Trojans, a service organization at USC dedicated to increasing the distribution of green infrastructure in South Central LA.