Lisa Awaya

Master of Urban Planning
- 2017

AVP, Community Development Banking Underwriter
Bank of America
Lisa Awaya

Why did you choose Wagner for graduate school?

I chose NYU Wagner because it is a graduate school of public service, offering Master of Urban Planning (MUP) candidates a unique opportunity to learn about the field from different perspectives while being centered on public service. MUP students develop a thorough understanding of urban systems, planning processes, and the forces that shape them through Wagner’s multidisciplinary education. This provides graduates the knowledge they need to tackle complex urban problems. Additionally, Wagner merges theory into practice, allowing students to develop the technical skills and abilities that employers look for in new hires.

Lastly, I chose Wagner because of the network. Wagner’s students, faculty, and staff are all united by their commitment to make a positive impact in our local, regional, and global communities. Graduates leave Wagner with the knowledge, skills, and connections they need to be public service leaders and make the world a better place.

How did being in New York impact your professional journey?

The people I’ve met, businesses I’ve worked with, and education I received in New York have made a significant impact on my career trajectory. As a dense and diverse agglomeration economy, New York is a fantastic place for job seekers. The opportunity to learn from and work with some of the most respected and experienced leaders in their fields at Wagner, NYU, networking events, conferences, and workplaces are numerous. In addition, there are endless opportunities to learn from the City itself, which is the best classroom for studying urban environments and the impact of public service. Wagner’s reputation and education also opens doors to fantastic internships and careers. While New York is truly what one makes of it, Wagner really helped me leverage the vast opportunities this great city has to offer.

How did your Wagner experience prepare you professionally for what you are doing today?

At Bank of America’s Community Development Banking Group, I’m responsible for underwriting debt and low-income housing tax credit equity investments that are used to finance the development of affordable housing. Through my Wagner experience, I developed the knowledge, skills, and network that I needed to land this job upon graduation. I learned how forces like urban economics, land use law, policy, and politics influence housing development from Wagner’s core courses. I honed my ability to produce detailed financial models and navigate the real estate development process in my courses outside of Wagner at NYU’s Shack Institute of Real Estate. I became confident in my communication and analytical skills through the graduate program’s coursework. Above all, Wagner connected me to an incredible network of experts and practitioners in the housing and community development industry, all of whom have prepared me for what I’m doing today.