Week 5: Finding Purpose – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 5: Finding Purpose

Mara Braciszewski is someone driven by social justice. She got her Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA specifically because it is a top university that practices diversity and inclusion. When applying to different Masters programs, her statement of purpose essay focused on providing a written visual of the disparities you notice while driving down Woodward starting in Birmingham and going to Detroit. By seeing the disparities in the built environment, she knew wanted to use her voice in a community whose needs were being neglected through urban planning.

The appeal of Hamtramck aligned with Mara’s passion towards diversity and inclusion as the City’s identity is based on arts, culture, and immigrants. Furthermore, it is a compact city which would make for interesting planning. Also, the average family income is about $26,000/year. So, she was able to acknowledge the economic TLC needed as well as wanted to be able to use her privilege as a tool to drive change.

While Mara has been actively working to establish a solid foundation for the Community and Economic Development (CED) Department, she is presented with many challenges. Within her CED Department, she is also responsible for planning and zoning, parks and recreation, and special events. All the while her department is having turnovers, so most of the workload falls onto her plate. Mara admitted wanting to pursue projects she is passionate about, but with so much turnover there is a lot of disorganization that she has been working to reorganize since she got hired in January of this year. 

Despite all the stress and immense workload Mara always seems to undergo, she comes to work with a smile on her face, ready to tackle the day. That may have sounded cheesy, but her passion for the work she is doing radiates and it makes me more excited to have the opportunity to be engaged in the community of Hamtramck. I aspire to have her drive and she motivates me to be a better person.

2 thoughts on “Week 5: Finding Purpose”

  1. Wow, this is a beautiful story. It’s awesome to have a connection with a person like Mara, very driven and actively pursuing change. AND on to only be working for less than a year, Mara’s killing it. This piece of yalls lives isn’t cheesy to me, but if it were, it’d be the best kind.

  2. Mara has an incredible background, and definitely seems very passionate about the work she is doing. I can see a lot of similarities between your mentor and mine, as my site is also experiencing a high turnover rate. It’s amazing that you are able to learn from such a driven individual.

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