Balancing Act to Begin Time at DCP

Student Profile – Zach Shrader, Urban and Regional Planning

Zach Shrader had a whirlwind start to his time in the online master’s program in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. His youngest child, VeraLynn, was born a week before he started the program here.

Shrader currently lives in Tallahassee with his wife and three children. He works as a transportation planner for CDM Smith, a civil engineering firm and is currently a consultant to the Systems Implementation Office at the Florida Department of Transportation.

What have you valued most about your time at the College of Design, Construction and Planning?

The exposure to different technical and theoretical aspects of planning has been invaluable. Planning as a practice is so broad and even as a professional planner myself, I only operate in a limited part of that spectrum. Getting to see all the planning world has to offer has been really exciting.

What class have you enjoyed the most so far at DCP?

Much to my surprise, I really liked Land Use Law. I never would have guessed that learning and applying the law to real life planning situations could be so fun, and William Hawkins was such an engaging instructor. I looked forward to dissecting the assignments each week.

What will you take away from your time here at DCP?

I’ll take with me a greater sense of confidence in my abilities as a planner, a vastly increased knowledge base and skill set and relationships with faculty, staff and classmates that I’ve truly come to value.

Can you tell us the advantages of using our online degree program?

The advantage of the online program is that it works for non-traditional students like myself. I work full-time and have a family, so most of my available time is in the late evenings and weekends. With the online program, I can watch lectures and do assignments and other coursework whenever it fits in my schedule. Most of my classmates have similar situations so we still get to collaborate electronically on projects and assignments, just maybe not at times when on campus students would likely do so.

How has the online program helped your career goals?

Being a planner was not my original goal, but I got into the field based on my geography and administrative background. The online MURP program has helped me fill in a lot of the gaps and strengthen my foundation. With my degree almost complete, I’m prepared to be more of a leader in my company and the local planning community.

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