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Malo Hutson

Malo HutsonField:  Urban Planning
SR-EIP:  Brown (1996)
Undergrad:  UC Berkeley (1997)
Graduate School:  MA –  UC Berkeley (1999); PhD –  MIT (2006)
Current:  Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley, Dept. of City and Regional Planning

Could you talk about any memorable experiences from your summer research at Brown?
I remember meeting all of the different groups of students from all of the country and Puerto Rico. I remember going on the tour of the Rockefeller library and the librarian showing us how to use all of the electronic sources.  In 1996, things like Lexis-Nexis were still pretty new, so it was a great introduction to how to do the type of research I would be doing in graduate school. The seminars with various faculty members were great.  I learned a lot from hearing them talk about their research interests and career trajectories. John Saillant was a great mentor.  He told me about the in’s and out’s of graduate school.  Even though I was an undergrad, he treated me like a graduate student because he wanted me to know what would be expected of me in graduate school.  James Wyche was also incredible.  Listening to him talk about his research really made you believe that the world was your laboratory.  He had a major impact on me.

Can you talk about how your summer experience prepared you for graduate school?
The program was most effective in that it planted the idea of graduate school, how to apply, and how to prepare for it.  Brown paid for me to take a GRE-prep course, and my mentor, John Saillant wrote a letter of recommendation for me. Also the meetings with faculty and deans, hearing them say that you have what it takes to go to graduate school was very important.  It gave me the confidence and skills to know that I could make it in graduate school.

Can you talk about the role of mentorship in your career?
I had great mentors at Berkeley and MIT and they’ve always stressed that it is important to help others out, especially since there still aren’t many African-Americans in the academy. Now that I’m on the other side of the fence as a faculty member, when I talk to students I walk them through the steps of what they need to know about graduate school.

What advice would you give to this year’s Leadership Alliance participants?
Take advantage of all of the resources available to you.  Talk to as many faculty as possible and network.  It can be intimidating, but most faculty will be interested in talking with you.  During my summer, I even meet with one faculty member who was not affiliated with the Leadership Alliance program.  I just introduced myself and we talked about research and graduate school, and she even ended up inviting me over for dinner.

Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
When you look at the state of politics and arguments against affirmative action, the Leadership Alliance is an example of a program that is very effective at taking people who are already qualified and putting them through a sort of academic boot camp that exposes them to what graduate school will be like.