STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Hannah Trostle
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Growing up in a rural area led Cherokee Nation citizen Hannah Trostle to want a career in Indigenous environmental planning, where she can help communities similar to the one she lived in develop land-use plans while ensuring that culture and traditions are considered in the planning process.
Trostle earned a master’s degree in urban and environmental planning in May from Arizona State University in Tempe.
She said she chose ASU because it offered a class on tribal community planning that would allow her to focus on Indigenous planning.
“Urban planning often focuses on urban areas, but planning is actually a tool that is used in rural communities, it’s used on regional levels, and what it is, is it helps set the agenda for development in those particular areas,” she said. “A lot of folks think it’s like bike lanes or public transit and it’s not. It’s about where do you put roads, where do you build out water infrastructure, where do you build out new internet infrastructure, what does the community want to see.”
She said while getting her degree she worked with the Navajo Nation in New Mexico on a visioning workshop to see what it wanted to do on a regional level for its communities. Before pursuing a doctorate, she said she wants to get more work experience, as she did before obtaining her master’s degree.
“I really want to take some time off to focus on getting some more work experience,” Trostle said. “I did sort of a gap year between my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree and got a lot of work experience on internet access research that helped me narrow down what I wanted to focus on in my master’s program. So I really want to be able to do good work and work with more Indigenous communities.”
She hopes to open her own consulting firm for Indigenous planning and work with tribes across the United States. She said growing up in a rural area and growing up Cherokee has made her realize what those areas and people need.
“To be Cherokee for me is really about honoring the past and our ancestors and recognizing all the ways that we can reimagine the future, and that’s what I see planning doing is reimagining the future based on what the community wants,” she said. “I think that’s really, really important in rural areas, especially ones that are more depressed economically. I think it’s really important for everyone to have the opportunity to go on whatever career path and make a living wherever they choose to live.”