David Lee, MSc Urban Specialisation
What are your best memories of UCD?
Some of my best memories of the UCD included the many tours that the UCD societies organised. As an international student in Ireland, it was a great way to see the Emerald Isle and its many beauties. These unique experiences with both Ireland’s people and places I will carry in my heart forever. I was also very fond of my time with the UCD Geography staff and the many field training opportunities our class participated in.
What first sparked your interest in Geography?
My initial interest in geography began with the field of emergency management, an area I had initially sought to expand into from my bachelors in Sustainable Urban Development. This “spark” was largely in response to addressing large-scale crisis planning as my home in the US Pacific Northwest is a subduction zone, is experiencing increased wildfires, and hosts a number of volcanoes. These and many other potential disasters require critical planning skills and long-term thinking, skill for which I felt suited.
What career path have you taken since graduating?
My path began with building relevant work experience and volunteering. My initial employer out of the UCD was as a security guard. This served as a starting point, and though disheartening at times, I eventually acquired a unique position with Habitat for Humanity as a coordinator for their Habitat Connects program. The first of its kind in the organisation, the Connects program’s mission was to build sustainable communities that participated in designing their future homes and neighbourhood. Following a year-long period with this organisation, I transitioned into the InterIm CDA Wilderness Inner-city Leadership Development program, where I now manage a program with a 20-year history of serving the Asian/Pacific Islander and immigrant youth in Seattle, Washington. I hope to continue providing communities of colour with the skill, knowledge, and ability to prosper in a rapidly changing America.
How has your degree helped you along the way?
My MSc in Urban Environment has been instrumental in the career opportunities that I have had. These opportunities have led me into my current position at one of Seattle Washington’s critical community development associations, InterIm CDA, as the Wilderness Inner-city Leadership Development Manager.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
My work as the WILD Program Manager involves working at the intersections of youth, environmental justice, outdoor recreation, and people of colour. Opening up the opportunity for youth to engage directly with the issues confronting people of colour, particularly Asians and Pacific Islanders in the case of InterIm clientele, is very rewarding. As an individual motivated to support equity and human rights, this role provides ample opportunities to help shape a brighter future through youth-focused experiential education.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
My proudest achievement to date is my relationships with others and the continued fruits we yield mutually, both professionally and personally.
What advice would you offer current students considering a similar career path?
See life as fluid. We tend to view life as a linear course with countless distractions bent on pushing us off course. Though this is often true, it’s worth noting that life also calls us to act unexpectedly because our unique gifts are, in fact, dearly needed now. Know the difference between being called into service and being confronted with a distraction.