Urban and Regional Planning Alum earns recognition from American Planning Association

December 8, 2023 - Emily Jodway

wisdomWisdom Henry, 2023 a graduate of the College of Social Science and the School of Planning, Design and Construction was recently awarded a prestigious award from the American Planning Association. Henry received the 2023 Outstanding Student Award, an accolade that recognizes outstanding achievement in the study of planning by students graduated from a Planning Accreditation Board-accredited planning program. 

The APA is a national group representing those who work in the field of urban planning. It functions as an organized forum where urban planners can exchange ideas and discuss improvement and construction efforts taking place across the country. The field of urban planning is constantly changing in order to meet the needs of increasingly diversified communities and their residents. 

“Wisdom shows what I believe is an unparalleled combination of ability, work ethic, and a deep personal commitment to research on issues of social equity,” said Dr. Noah Durst, Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning. “She is an outstanding scholar of exceptional intellectual rigor and curiosity. Her broad record of sustained service in pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion with and beyond MSU speak to the depth and integrity of her character.”

During Henry’s time as an undergraduate at Michigan State, she was a member of the Social Science Scholars program and the Honors College, and dual majored in Urban and Regional Planning and History. She was involved in several organizations on campus including the School of Planning, Design and Construction (SPDC) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and co-founded the Bridge Scholars Program, a student-led organization that seeks to support undergraduate students of color within the Scholars program. 

Henry’s research also reflects her interests in inclusivity and equality among marginalized communities. During undergrad, she conducted a study on neighborhood change through the lens of gentrification and disinvestment, which both contribute to the displacement of African American residents. She has also done research examining racially discriminatory gerrymandering and voting restrictions, and how these roadblocks can lead to higher rates of death and illness in African American communities due to an unequal provision of clean water and sanitation. 

“Her work will contribute to a crucial area of research by studying the link between racial politics and health,” Dr. John Waller, Director of the Social Science Scholars Program, added. “On a personal level, Wisdom has also deeply impressed me by the strength of her character and compassion.”

This award is just one of many accolades received by Henry throughout her academic career. She won the Richard Lee Featherstone award in 2022, awarded to an outstanding Michigan State senior to be used for postgraduate pursuits. She was one of only 16 students in the country to be afforded the Beinecke Scholarship in 2021, which enabled her to afford graduate school and conduct research on the history of race and the provision of water and sanitation in the 1900s.

Read more about Wisdom Henry here