Urban Planning Student Receives Nationwide Scholarship from APA

Anthony Bui, a student in Taubman College’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning program, is one of just five recipients nationwide of the 2021 APA Foundation Scholarship.

Awarded annually by the American Planning Association, APA Foundation scholarships make the planning profession more diverse and accessible to individuals with limited means and help attract the most talented individuals to the profession.

Bui, a first-year master’s student who earned his Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from U-M’s Ford School of Public Policy, is the son of Vietnamese refugees. He didn’t learn English until he was in elementary school.

He became interested in transportation as a child, riding buses around his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Those rides through different neighborhoods brought to light the socioeconomic inequalities of his city.

“Along with countless others, I was on the receiving end of failed urban planning attempts meant to ‘help’ others,” Bui said. “My experience seeing those around me struggle ignited my desire to be a catalyst for change.”

As an undergraduate student in summer 2019, Bui interned at Transportation Riders United, a nonprofit that advocates for better transportation access and mobility in Metro Detroit. There he examined the Regional Transit Authority’s 2019 Mobility Vision for Southeast Michigan, advanced public transit concerns in the Michigan Department of Transportation’s 2045 Long-Range Transportation Plan, and reformed TRU’s online outreach. He also published an essay, “My Transit Story: The Bus Is Unvalued!

“The region’s lack of adequate public transit serves as a barrier to employment, education, health care, and other essential needs that hurts population groups such as low-income individuals and African-Americans,” Bui said. “My work with TRU allowed the nonprofit to continue its mission of expanding public transportation for all.”

Now, as a master’s student at Taubman College, he will leverage his APA Foundation Scholarship to continue toward making opportunities in urban areas accessible for all.

“Transportation policy has a tendency to promote unwelcoming streets solely for the benefit of drivers, but it can also be used as a remedy to encourage a street for all users,” Bui said. “Thus, I will promote and protect public transportation to bridge our communities, connect all types of people with opportunities, and stimulate economic potential in the urban environment.”