Timing is everything, and that couldn’t be more true for Teal Delys, whose determination to pursue a dream helped her land the job she wanted, in the city she wanted––just as a pandemic was about to shut down the economy and job market.

Delys, a 2019 graduate of Eastern Washington University’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program, is just a few months into a job in the New York Department of City Planning’s Queens Borough Office.

Teal Delys ’19 works from home in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was itching to go somewhere very different from where I had grown up and gone to university,” says Delys, a native of Moses Lake. “I chose New York because I have always been fascinated by the density, history and multifaceted cultures of the city and I was looking for a central location to explore career opportunities in the larger Northeast region. I also wanted to live in a region where there are many job opportunities.”

Delys began applying for jobs in New York last summer but didn’t get any traction. Undeterred, she moved to the city last fall and took a job in a movie theater bistro and began attending networking events for professional planners while sharpening her resume. Her persistence paid off, as she landed the job just before the COVID crisis took hold and a hiring freeze was enacted.

Although she’s had to mostly work from home since starting, Delys is getting great experience as an assistant urban designer. “I am part borough planner and part urban designer,” she says. “This means I split my time between urban design exercises, interfacing with residents of Queens and community groups, and guiding private development applications through the city land use review process. I look forward to starting more community-based planning work (think parks, traffic conditions and zoning) as we return to our offices.”

Delys credits Eastern’s strong MURP program with giving her the tools to find success in such a trying time. “As a graduate student, I felt empowered by the opportunities and resources that were available to me,” she says. “I was a research assistant on the North Spokane Corridor for both years of grad school and this project enabled me to practice skills that I had learned from planning, GIS and architecture classes.“

For Margo Hill, assistant professor of Urban Planning Programs, Delys typifies the type of student that comes through Eastern.

“She did amazing work while she was here at EWU to earn her Master in Urban and Regional Planning,” says Hill.

And Hill points out that although several undergraduate and graduate students were told hiring was on hold, many have secured jobs or internships. The list includes:

Graduates Who Earned a BA

  • Anthony Pena: United States Senate for Senator Murray
  • Tynan Stevenson: Affordable Housing Fellow in the Economic Independence Division of the Department of Human Services at Arlington County, Virginia

Graduates Who Earned a Master’s

  • Landon Baldwin: Incoming PhD student, University of Texas, Arlington
  • Zachary Becker: City of Airway Heights
  • Rachelle Bradley: Spokane Tribe
  • Teal Delys: Assistant Urban Designer at NYC Department of City Planning
  • Jami Hayes: Transportation Project Manager, Spokane County
  • Megan Heller: Kalispel Tribe
  • Tyler Kimbrell-Knutson: Parks, Reserves, and Recreation Planner at Hutt City Council, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Aren Murcar: Planner, SCJ Alliance, Studio Landscape Architecture consulting service