By Melissa Anderson
When Natalie Fakhreddine took an urban and regional planning course last semester, she did not know it would lead her to Chicago this spring. The master’s student researched gentrification and the displacement of people of color in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood for her final paper in the Social Issues in Planning class taught by Assistant Professor Gordon Douglas.
“The class and research I conducted throughout the semester was very insightful,” she said, noting that Douglas encouraged her to submit her paper for the Chicago Ethnography Conference.
Fakhreddine said she first became interested in studying the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood after seeing an uptick in development in the area. Through her research, she said she “was astounded to learn of BVHP’s history, and the consequences the community is facing as a result of widespread gentrification.” She discovered that while the neighborhood had seen an economic boost in recent years, long-time residents had not benefited from the new influx of luxury developments.
“When I found out my paper was accepted for the conference, the entire department was incredibly excited for me and helped me get prepared,” she said. “It was a great opportunity to meet passionate and bright students from across the country who are studying a variety of disciplines.”
As a shy person who doesn’t like public speaking, she said presenting at the conference took her out of her comfort zone.
“This experience was a great networking opportunity that allowed me to gain insight into the world of academia,” she said. “I was able to get a lot of really constructive feedback on my research through professors and students from a wide variety of disciplines. I left Chicago inspired and excited to continue pursuing my research in new ways I wasn’t aware of before.”