Mariko Krause is program associate for the Memphis Medical District Collaborative. A graduate of Rhodes College, she has found her niche connecting urban planning and design with public health.

Q: Why did I stay in Memphis?

A: When I first meet someone, I always ask if the person is from Memphis, and some of my favorite conversations have stemmed from learning about their “Memphis story.”

Let me tell you about my Memphis story.

Six years ago, Memphis was not in my vocabulary. In fact, it was not even on my radar until Spring 2012 when I visited the city for the first time. Later that fall, I moved from a small town in Kentucky to attend Rhodes College. Little did I know, I would soon identify myself as a “Memphian.”

My experience at Rhodes College would not have been complete without this city. I chose to be an Urban Studies and Community Health major because I saw Memphis as a bridge to real-world application. Through an urban studies lens, I was able to see Memphis as a hidden gem and simultaneously learn about the opportunities for growth. Unlike other cities I had visited, I saw Memphis as an opportunity to directly engage with and be a part of a community that could use me just as much as I needed it. I was not quite sure what it was, but there was certainly a draw to know more about the place, its rich history, its authentic culture, and where the city would be in ten or twenty years.

Tremendous opportunity exists to connect urban planning and design to public health, especially as people begin to rebuild and reimagine space. Oftentimes people’s health is directly correlated with their built environment. The Memphis Medical District Collaborative, the organization I work for, and its partnerships are a major key to the development of this city’s future. Being able to create a more vibrant atmosphere, connect neighborhoods, and strengthen human relationships is essential to building on what is already present. Each day I have the opportunity to work towards a mission that I hope will bring positive change to our community.

-Mariko Krause