Strength in community

Hayden Campbell, a graduate student in urban planning, is building on his UW education to help create more equitable spaces on campus — and in the city.

The son of artists from Vashon Island, Hayden Campbell majored in art history and marketing in college, thinking he would apply his talents in the advertising world.

Hayden Campbell

Campbell, shown here in South Lake Union, often sits in public places to observe how people interact with the space.

But after several years in nonprofit marketing, Campbell says, he felt like something was still missing: “I figured out that my interests were more in the realm of urban design and planning — improving space and the built environment, and in essence creating a third place for people to come together.”

While Campbell was reevaluating his career path, he was also reflecting on Seattle’s uneven economic recovery. During the post-recession housing boom, he saw homelessness climb and noticed that some parts of the city were flourishing as others lagged behind.

“I wanted to find the best way to leverage the privilege I was born with for positive good,” he says. “Focusing on equity and social justice in the city is really important to me.”

Laying the foundation for a new career

Campbell decided to apply to master’s programs in urban planning, ultimately landing on the University of Washington. “The UW has a great program, and it’s an exciting time to get this degree in this city,” he says. “But it was the character and quality of my cohort that were especially inspiring.”

Husky 100 web site screenshot

Husky 100

In recognition of his contributions to the UW and the community, Hayden Campbell has been selected as a member of this year’s Husky 100, an honor that recognizes exceptional UW undergraduate and graduate students from all areas of study.

Learn more

Campbell wanted to make the most of his time at the UW, and with the help of two scholarships, he has. The merit-based Urban Design and Planning Scholarship and a scholarship from the Myer R. Wolfe Endowed Fund have been “an enormous relief,” he says. “Pursuing a graduate degree is an enormous financial burden, and I am grateful to have been awarded these scholarships. This support is huge.”

Turning motivation into action

Campbell hit the ground running when he arrived at the UW’s College of Built Environments. He joined his department’s diversity committee, which brings students and faculty together to make the college more welcoming, inclusive and equitable for all students, from what they read to who they hear from.

Last year, the committee audited reading lists for all of the urban planning program’s core classes, noting the gender and ethnicity of authors, and shared the results with program faculty. “They may not make wholesale changes to their curriculum,” says Campbell, “but it’s enough to have them say, ‘Maybe we need to take a look at that and update it.’”

The committee also brings to campus underrepresented voices in the urban design and planning field, broadening students’ perspectives and identifying challenges they may someday face. “We invite planners and community engagers of color to come talk about projects they’re working on and the ways it may have been difficult for them to work in Seattle,” says Campbell.

Hayden Campbell

The challenges presented by Seattle’s rapid growth spurred Campbell to pursue his master’s in the city.

Beyond the classroom

In order to apply his education to helping local communities, Campbell began serving on his neighborhood’s land-use committee. “So far I’ve learned how the community engagement process works and how neighborhood associations can communicate with the city from a very grassroots level,” he says.

With the goal of deepening the connection between his studies and the real world, Campbell began a yearlong graduate internship with the Seattle Department of Transportation over the summer. Working in the department’s street-use division, he reviews new building projects to make sure they’re safe and legal and don’t interfere with public use of city streets. It’s been a crash course in the nuances of Seattle’s municipal code, and it has also given him insight into his own career path.

“I’ve seen how good urbanism gets fought for at the city level: We’re trying to create larger, safer and more comfortable pedestrian spaces, a more connected and complete bike network, and affordable and reliable public transportation,” Campbell says. “I’ve come to understand the push and pull between academia and professional practice.”

With graduation on the horizon in June 2019, Campbell looks forward to making a difference through his work. “I hope to build a career promoting and implementing good urbanism,” he says, “leveraging urban planning as a means to improve the health and livability for communities.”

Building stronger communities

When you support the Urban Design and Planning Scholarship Fund, you can help students like Hayden Campbell shape the communities of the future.