We caught up with Melissa Duhn as she completed her Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree in spring 2021. Duhn is from the small town of Lowry, Minnesota, and currently lives in St. Paul. She earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2012, then taught high school math for a few years before returning to the field of transportation engineering and planning.
What have you been doing since graduation?
I continue to work in my position as the laboratory manager at the Minnesota Traffic Observatory (MTO) on the University of Minnesota campus.
What are your longer-term goals?
I hope to work with the Office of Research and Innovation at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Also, my family plans to move back to the Lowry area sometime in the future, so I hope to work within a rural transportation planning department when we do.
Why did you choose to attend the Humphrey School?
I chose the Humphrey School for the focus on public policy and tangible, research-driven work. My research at the MTO often felt like it got lost after publication, so learning how planners take research and turn it into actionable steps and policy was a very important consideration for me.
What were your best experiences from your time at the Humphrey School?
My best experience at the Humphrey School was participating in the Tribal Relations workshop. It really opened my eyes to how tribal relations need to be improved and built on, and ways to do so.
In addition, I really enjoyed getting to know my professors and felt like they were invested in my success, and all respected the transportation engineering background I brought to the program. My classmates were a wonderful group of folks from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, and learning from one another was a great experience.
Of note, I had my daughter Sylvia during fall semester 2020, so that was a crazy experience with the pandemic and online school! My professors and classmates were all very understanding and flexible, and Sylvia got to participate a bit over Zoom!