For a 22-year-old Miami Dade College graduate, a career that will plan future urban environments with an ecological focus seems inevitable.
“No, it didn’t start when we were helping the turtle nesting on Key Biscayne,” said Halina Miho Rachelson of Cutler Bay, now beginning study of global resource systems at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.
“That was among several projects we undertook during my last two years of study,” she continued. “Actually, my interest in improving urban environments started in Germany during a student exchange program.
“I saw how little people depended upon their cars for daily life. That gave me a whole different idea of how urban growth ought to be planned in this country.”
Although majoring in economics at The Honors College at MDC’s Kendall campus, Rachelson’s love of applying ecological disciplines to city planning won her the 2014 Phi Theta Kappa Hites Transfer $7,500 Scholarship, one among only 10 granted nationwide enabling two-year college students to attain a baccalaureate degree.
Born in Japan where her parents were educators, Halina came to Florida at age 5 to begin pre-school in Kendall before ending a 16-year academic career at the Kendall MDC campus by way of Palmer Trinity School.
Her father, Carl Rachelson, an English teacher at Palmer Trinity, and her mother, Dr. Anouchka Rachelson, a professor at Kendall campus, very likely inspired Halina’s interests in city improvements as chairs of the Kendall Campus Green Team and member of the Earth Ethics Institute.
“It’s true that Halina was obsessed with the lack of facilities to get around Miami- Dade County,” her dad said. “While growing up, she always fussed about not being able to get someplace she wanted to go.
“In Germany, her mother’s native country, she saw the ease of getting around without dependency on private automobiles, as well as an entirely different approach to streetscapes with cafes, pedestrian walkways and people-oriented life.”
Will she return to plan a new Miami?
“Oh, I have no idea where I will go,” Halina replied just after entering her new college life in Vancouver. “Just so I might have an impact someday on making our cities a better living environment.”