Tuesday, October 12, 2010

MaryGrace Weber and a group of fellow graduate students in urban and regional planning recently traveled with Rotary International to Xicotepec, Mexico, to outline a vision for the city’s economic development. Based on citizen input, the resulting report offered recommendations and action steps.

“I am ceaselessly impressed by the other students I have met along my journey,” Weber said. “I have found there to be incredible cooperation among students and have frequently benefited from their assistance and advice.”

Weber’s international service dates back to her undergraduate years at The University of Iowa, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies.  She received a Stanley Award for international research and spent two months studying cultural tourism initiatives throughout Tanzania.  In 2008, she co-founded Travel for Change, a nonprofit organization that helps developing countries build community-owned tourism initiatives that generate jobs and income.

Economic development and the environment are the focus of Weber’s studies.  She believes it is essential to guide economic growth and manage urban development in a manner that promotes social equity, and that planners play a key role in improving the quality of life in a society.

“The Urban and Regional Planning Program’s focus on community engagement has defined the career that I hope to pursue upon graduation and has enabled me to give back to a community that I have loved since I first arrived,” Weber said.