Journey to a Career in Urban Planning 

Alum Carlos Pazmino



Carlos Pazmino

Alum Carlos Pazmino’s Journey to a Career in Urban Planning 

Carlos Pazmino ‘15, a Transportation Planner/Urban Planner II at The District Department of Transportation, immigrated with his mother from Quito, Ecuador, at the age of 10, during a very turbulent era in that country. City College provided a platform for Pazmino to blend personal experiences with academic pursuits, fueling his passion for urban planning. 

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?
My stepfamily has a longstanding history with CUNY, as my grandfather attended Lehman College in the 1960s when CUNY was first established. He often regaled me with cherished memories of his older friends attending City College. What resonated with him most was the fact that City College set an example as one of the few institutions of higher learning that did not discriminate against Jews, immigrants, or the marginalized. As a Jewish man, the mission of City College – which in turn developed into the CUNY system – allowed him to gain an education and access to the American Dream when other institutions did not. When I transferred in my sophomore year of college, I felt a profound sense of pride in continuing this tradition of attending public higher education within my new family, all while navigating life as an immigrant. City College embodies a legacy of inclusion, opportunity, and progress that has left an indelible mark on me.

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
Upon my arrival in the United States, I found myself thrust into a whirlwind of change, beginning with the fiercely contested 2000 Presidential election and culminating in the devastating events of 9/11 the following year. Growing up in downtown Manhattan during this period of profound political turmoil left an indelible mark on my perspective, shaping both my political beliefs and moral convictions. I bore witness to the resilience of my community in the face of the horrific terrorist attack. However, I also saw how existing economic policies exacerbated hardships, displacing many good people from their businesses and homes. Additionally, I observed the rise of unfounded animosity towards Muslims and immigrants, exemplified by opposition towards an Islamic center near my home. These experiences deeply influenced my understanding of American life and fueled my determination to pursue a career aimed at making a meaningful difference. It became clear to me that I wanted to contribute to a cause that could uplift the lives of others, uniting people from all walks of life. I recognized that City College provided a unique platform where my life experiences, rooted in the challenges and unity I witnessed in my neighborhood, could not only be heard but also seen. My passion and purpose behind pursuing my studies at City College were driven by the profound desire to bridge divides, promote understanding, and work towards a more inclusive and harmonious society for all.

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?
Enrolling in John Krinsky's Urban Economics course marked a pivotal turning point in my academic journey, one that had a profound and lasting impact on my career trajectory. It was in this course that I was first introduced to the complex realm of urban and regional planning, and I can confidently assert that this experience played a transformative role in shaping my life's path. In particular, a compelling moment of revelation emerged when I delved into a comprehensive survey of the supply of vacant homes in the vibrant community of Harlem. This exploration not only broadened my horizons but also served as a catalyst, prompting me to critically assess the limitations of existing urban policies and their implications for local residents. This newfound awareness ignited a passion within me for urban planning and community development, which led me to pursue a career as a Transportation Planner. In my current role, I wholeheartedly devote myself to the intricate dynamics of neighborhood development and equity, with a commitment to implementing strategies that create thriving, inclusive urban environments.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?
My time serving as the USG Student Ombudsperson between 2014-2015 was definitely a highlight. In part because the student body had witnessed a period of deep student turmoil with the overlapping student body protests and systemic changes in CUNY. I am deeply proud to have helped students advocate for themselves, address their concerns with the school, and provide needed support with their financial aid.

What advice would you give to current students or recent graduates majoring in your field of study?
Be open to new experiences and listen to all perspectives. Applying nuance to complex situations is a critical step in both lifting up a community and oneself. Always find the balance between humility and grace

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