Student Spotlight November 2023
Drake Watson is 2nd year Master's student studying Urban Planning. He is anticipated to graduate in the fall of 2024.
Q: Describe your educational background.
A: I received a Bachelor of Arts in Music with a minor in Spanish and graduated the honor of Magna Cum Laude. I have always loved playing my clarinet, but I ultimately knew that my main goal in life was to help people and to better the community. By obtaining my degree in music, I was able to bring a creative and people-oriented mindset to the planning field that allows me to analyze situations in unique ways.
Q: What brought you to the University of Louisville?
A: I grew up in Spencer County, so UofL is close to home and my friends, but as I learned about the Urban Planning program here and what it offered, I knew instantly that I wanted to attend once I graduated from WKU. I had been in contact with the urban design department since I was just a sophomore at WKU because I was so excited to attend and learn about planning.
Q: What about Urban Planning interests you?
A: Planning is a very people-oriented field because the choices that city planners make directly impact the citizens of the community. These choices also have long-lasting impacts that can supersede our lifetimes. My goal as a planner is to help cities become more sustainable, while at the same time helping people to be able to live better lives.
Q: How would you describe your area of study to your grandmother?
A: I would describe planning as an umbrella field where we cover a lot of different topics ranging from community advocacy to environmental sustainability. We help communities decide what they want the land to be used for and help to protect it. This field in particular emphasizes working with the community to achieve goals together to create a more sustainable and brighter future.
Q: What made you go into this field of study?
A: I love helping and working with people, and this field allows me to do just that. I currently work for the Planning & Design Department with Louisville Metro in customer service, and every day I get to meet a variety of people. Each one of those people has their own lives and stories to share, and it is the coolest thing that I get to be a part of that story, even if it is just briefly.
Q: How do you think this advanced degree will change your role in society?
A: I hope that I will become an active member who helps to better society.
Q: What are your long-term goals and aspirations?
A: I love creating things and getting to work directly with people, so I hope to be able to advance within the Planning & Design department here in Louisville. If the opportunity presents itself, I would also love to get to work with other communities to share my experiences and individual ideas.
Q: What accomplishment, academic or otherwise, are you most proud of?
A: There are not many people in my family who have gone to college, let alone graduated with a degree. I am most proud that I was able to receive my bachelor’s degree and can continue to receive my Master's.
Q: What has been your favorite part of the graduate school experience at UofL?
A: My favorite part has been getting to meet so many wonderful people. The professors in the department are wonderful tutors and I know that I will be able to be in touch with them in the future. My peers and friends that I have made through UofL are now my co-workers and it has been so wonderful to get to meet so many brilliant and unique people.
Q: What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?
A: One of the greatest challenges I have had to face is balancing my work and school life. The program that I am in is specifically geared toward working professionals. Balancing my time between being a full-time student and a full-time employee has had its challenges, but it has encouraged me to grow and become a better student. It has given me time management skills, flexibility skills, and patience that I otherwise would not have learned.
Q: Tell us about your family life.
A: I live with my parents, our two dogs, and our cat. My parents are my biggest role models and supporters in my life. Without their support, I would not have had the courage to pursue a graduate career.
A talent you have always wanted: To be able to fly. It seems so freeing, and I have always loved the view from the air whenever I have flown. Plus traffic can be awful sometimes and it would just be nice to fly home sometimes.
Favorite book: I had a hard time deciding because I love so many different books. I think my favorite might have to be The Help because it is funny, and honest, and I really enjoy the deviousness of it.
Favorite quote: “Where words fail, music speaks”. -Hans Chirstian Anderson
Role Model: My parents
Favorite thing to do or place to go in Louisville: I love to walk around and visit the shops in the Highlands; it is like our own little version of Gatlinburg. I also enjoy walking around George Rogers Clark Park because it is very scenic with the creek and the trees and it is home to one of the oldest trees I have seen, dating back to possibly before the US was even a country.
If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now? I would probably be taking a trip somewhere because I love to travel and I hope to get to see the world.