Meet an Urban Studies Major


Christian Hughes ’14

Extra-curricular activities: 

  • Teaching Assistant for French and Spanish labs
  • Volunteer at the U.S. High Speed Rail Conference in Washington, D.C.
  • Volunteer at Cornwall Hospital Thrift Shop

Why did you choose your major? 

Initially, I came to Manhattan College as only a French major, mainly interested in languages. However, after several months of living in the Bronx and utilizing the subway system on a daily basis, I became more and more fascinated by the workings of the city and the policies and planning that make a town or city function — either for good or bad.

What has been your favorite class? 

It would be a toss up between Dr. Saphan’s Urban Planning class (URBN 303) and Dart Westphal’s Urban Sustainability class (URBN 301). Both presented valuable information and tools for research that I am still referencing now in my current studies.

Have you done any research projects?

The largest research project I have done was for Dr. Saphan’s Urban Planning class. My paper was on brownfield redevelopment (the redevelopment and reuse of previously industrial sites) in Pittsburgh, a city dominated historically by the steel industry. The paper sharpened my skills in research, and gave me a taste for the urban renaissances taking place beyond our immediate region.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan on attending graduate school to attain a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning, with the intention to specialize in transportation planning.

Have any professors particularly influenced you?

Dr. Linda Saphan has been an extraordinary help for me during my studies. I have taken two classes with her in the past, Urban Planning and Sacred in the City, as well as my current independent research class on Regional Planning. She is a wonderfully knowledgeable professor who has provided me with much guidance within my major.

What’s your favorite thing about this major?

I am passionate about what I am studying, so I have found the courses offered to be both enjoyable and very useful in expanding my knowledge.

What’s the most difficult thing about this major?

Because the Urban Studies program at Manhattan College is quite young, I feel that I have been among a small group of pioneers for the program, which has been both good and bad. 

What advice would you give to new students trying to select a major?

Choose carefully and have an open mind when considering your options, because you may find yourself to be fascinated with an area of study that you had never even considered before.