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Truong (Eric) Trinh
Truong (Eric) Trinh


Planned Graduation Year: 2021         


Why did you choose to pursue a graduate education in planning at Portland State University?

Obtaining a Master degree of Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University is like a pursuit of happiness. Growing up in a struggling family in one of the biggest cities in Vietnam, I have always carried a dream to find my passion, to do good for my community and to be happy. I moved to San Francisco to follow my dream but unfortunately, the city stopped providing a safe sanctuary for its diverse and struggling population. My heart was broken into pieces seeing so many families and friends being pushed out from the most beautiful city in the Bay. At that moment, I decided that I wouldn't be the next victim so I packed and drove to the Rose city. 

During my time as a Community Development student at Portland State University, I had learned the problems of gentrification, displacement, racial disparity, discriminatory practices and so on were so complicated. They are the wicked problems that need to be solved not only by the government but also the new generations of planners, whose passion's to ensure that every city is a livable place for "everyone". And here I am! As a first-year student of the MURP, I'm beyond grateful and excited for this lifetime opportunity to become a future planner that brings happiness to my life and to the community that I will serve. I will fight for the unheard, the underrepresented and the under-invested because as a community, when we love and care about the most vulnerable, we also love and care about ourselves.

What aspects of planning do you like best? Or, what is your favorite part about being a planner?

I fondly enjoy the diversity of student body and the flexibility of the planning curriculum at Portland State University. "Equity" and "Diversity" have been the focal points in every course, which stimulates me as a student of color. The reading materials, assignments, projects and lectures have been professionally and cleverly incorporated with relevant and meaningful concepts. Certainly, Portland State University and the faculty has been working tirelessly to provide such a progressive "collaboratory" (collaborative laboratory) environment for students like me to obtain the needed knowledge and reach our potential. 

While the program has exhibited an exceptional curriculum, the faculty has been more than just some ordinary professors. All of my professors have been extremely understanding, supportive and thoughtful to students, especially international ones and students of color. I'm so grateful that the professors in the planning Department also like to challenge students to be creative and better by providing space and opportunity to be exposed to new things every day. The student community at PSU is a strong and tight-knit one that supports one another during every step of the academic path. I never felt lonely and isolated because I knew the faculty, the staff and my fellow students would always be there to support and lift me up.

What planning subarea (or class topic) most interests you? 

As I entered my first year of the MURP, It's really hard for me to say there's only one planning area that interests me the most. I have a profound passion for affordable housing and public transportation that come with a focus on equity. I believe that our future children deserve to live without struggles and disparity; thus, ensuring housing affordability and a good public transportation system for everyone is going to be my biggest interest!

What do you hope to do after you obtain your degree? 

There are so many complex problems in my beloved Portland that continue to threaten the existence of communities of color here. I would love to use my degree and experience to bring equity, diversity and justice into the planning field in order to create a more sustainable and livable environment for Portlanders to live and thrive.

What advice would you offer someone considering a master’s degree in planning?

I would say "You have chosen the right place to pursue your happiness". Don't forget keep doing more search and setting up some meetings for an adviser, a planning professor or current planner and then, you can have a helpful conversation to find out what is that you need to know about the program and its challenges and rewarding elements. Doing so, you would prepare yourself a concrete foundation before you decide to apply and enter the program. 

What impact did the PPDA have on your ability to enter graduate school & obtain your MURP degree at PSU?

The PPDA has been a magical ticket for me to fast track my academic and life experience to become an urban planner. With this award, I got an opportunity to intern for the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, where I listen, discuss and participate in planning subjects and projects that provide me priceless experience. I also met so many amazing and talented planners, who shared my passion of promoting and advancing "Equity" in the planning field. I strongly believe this work experience will be the most concrete foundation to equip me in the future.

What connections and experience did you gain from your PPDA?

The PPDA showed me that students of color are highly valuated and respected when it came to Portland State University's goals. As the student body became increasingly diverse with so many students that came from different background, the PPDA has been a cornerstone to boost Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the school curriculum. Basically, this award reconnected and reintegrated students of color's experiences and aspirations in the planning Department in order to make planning a more diverse field for everyone.