Student Spotlight: Jesus Chavez

Jesus Chavez

Jesus Chavez is a senior in the Urban Dynamics track within the School of Sustainability. An alumnus of El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, California, Chavez graduates in May 2014 with a bachelor’s in both Sustainability and Urban Planning.

Chavez is energetic in his pursuit of implementable solutions to urban planning predicaments in both his studies and extra-curricular work. In August 2014, he begins an urban planning internship with a private consulting firm in Spain.

Why did you choose ASU?

The School of Sustainability is the major reason I chose ASU, a one-of-a-kind institution tackling wicked problems on a local to global scale. The fact that it is a top-ranked institution for both Sustainability and Urban Planning solidified my decision to get the most out of my education here.

Why did you choose to major in Sustainability?

The urgent need to transform our current growth patterns is the primary reason I chose Sustainability. I immediately saw its applicability and potential to tackle our complex global dilemmas.

I am particularly passionate about urban sustainability because I come from an area that sees numerous negative aspects of urban development. I’ve witnessed the difficulties people face in an effort to support their families.  The fact that there are areas much worse than where I came from makes sustainability a fundamental issue we need to address in order to become a more resilient society.

Why did you choose to double-major with Urban Planning?

Back in high school, I loved to skateboard and was always fascinated by how cities were mapped out. Urban planning is a field that guides the development of communities and cities overall. The decisions made during the planning process have an effect on the environment, economy, and ultimately our quality of life. There is also a pressing need to re-think the way our cities have been developing over the past half-century in order to sustain generations ahead. Sustainability is a nice complement as both work to address these factors at a systemic level.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability is about preserving the values that define us as a society. It is about finding solutions to the negative results of our progress – environmental degradation, economic and social inequality, etc. – in an inclusive manner.  It is more than just a field of study: it is a mindset people must collectively accept and work toward.

Name the SOS lesson that contributes most to your success.

Being a systems-thinker is the SOS lesson that contributes most to my success. When analyzing complex sustainability issues, you need to have a holistic picture of the main agents interacting with the bigger system. A nice analogy is that of the drunken man looking for his keys under the light post because that’s the only area he is able to see.  There needs to be a systematic approach to understanding these problems before we make predictions about the future.

What is your favorite SOS class?

My favorite class by far has been the Global Classroom Experiment. Through this three-semester class, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about sustainability science in an international setting. I’ve also developed a comprehensive interdisciplinary research project that aims to fill a knowledge gap in the field of complexity theory as applied to urban environments!

The Global Classroom Experiment has been instrumental in providing me with the intellectual capital needed for extra-curricular endeavors.

What experiences during your college career are you most grateful for?

Working with a non-profit called the Valley Permaculture Alliance on a community development project in a public housing facility furthered my understanding of the social dynamics of urbanization. My experience working as a planning intern on transit projects with Valley Metro RPTA has provided me with valuable insight into planning processes on a regional scale.

My internship with Walton Sustainability Solution Service has also been an incredible experience. It has provided me with the opportunity to work on international urban sustainability projects. I also want to mention GreenLight Solutions, a magnificent cohort of student consultants working on great sustainability projects that I had the opportunity to be a part of.

My internships have been the greatest complement to my education here at ASU. Hard work and dedication are truly needed to excel in any aspect of life.