College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > About > Initiatives > Urban Collaborative > Student Urban Research Corps > Student Members

Student Members

​Current SURC Members

    Alejandro Arakelian

Major/Program: Geography & GIS
Quote about SURC: Working with SURC and our community partners has helped me develop my technical skills, but more importantly it's deepened my commitment to service and using research techniques to help communities in need.

Bio: Alejandro is a Senior in the Geography department with an emphasis in Urban Planning and Development. Hailing from Texas originally, he is particularly interested in urbanism as it relates to the American South and urban reforestation projects. In his time away from school and SURC, he enjoys thrifting, watching sumo, and reading European literature. At the moment his favorite authors are Gabrielle D'Annunzio and Michel Houllebecq.
    Lily Baird

Major/Program: Geography & GIS
Quote about SURC: SURC has been an incredibly valuable experience for me both professionally and personally. This opportunity has allowed me to combine my passions for community engagement with my GIS coursework through partnering with local organizations to work on issues related to housing policy, poverty, and other issues impacting Chicagoans.

Bio: Lily is an undergraduate Senior at DePaul University studying Geography with a concentration in GIS with minors in Urban Planning & Development, Sustainability, and Climate Change Policy & Science. Outside of work, she values time in nature with family and friends and is passionate about climate justice and cooking!
   Mayra Shuja

Major/Program: Sustainable Urban Development
Quote about SURC: While being part of the Student Urban Research Corps (SURC), I had the privilege of conducting surveys for the KEEN, where volunteers discovered and taught the art of jiu-jitsu to empower children with special abilities to express themselves. This experience made me realize that SURC goes beyond research, data, and statistics; it's about becoming an integral part of a cause by assisting organizations in fulfilling their mission.

Bio: Mayra Shuja holds a BA in Architecture and is currently pursuing a MA in Sustainable Urban Development at DePaul University. Her academic journey has equipped her with a unique blend of architectural knowledge and a passion for sustainable urban development. Mayra is making a significant impact as a Planning Intern at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), where she actively supports community-oriented urban development projects in Austin, Chinatown, and Calumet City. Her work places a strong emphasis on planning for the climate crisis and seeking sustainable solutions. She envisions cities that not only coexist harmoniously with nature but also actively promote sustainability and enhance the overall well-being of the community.
    Sonya Koffman

Major/Program: Psychology/Urban Geography & Planning
Quote about SURC: If it wasn't for SURC being such a great resource, it would be a lot more difficult to find internship opportunities that relate to my passions and interests. I have particularly enjoyed working for Legal Aid Foundation and KEEN Foundation Chicago.

Bio: Sonya is a senior at DePaul University and has been working with the SURC for almost 3 years. They’re interested in doing social work and urban planning in the future, with a specific focus on community engagement and development. In their free time, they love reading, cooking, and have creative passions in fashion, design, and digital art.
   Christopher Impellizeri
Christopher Impellizeri

Major/Program: Geography & GIS / Urban Development & Planning
Quote about SURC: Working at SURC has been an incredibly valuable and eye-opening experience. Exposure to Chicago 's vast network of urban support organizations through GIS has proven essential to my academic and career development.

Bio:  Chris is a senior at DePaul University seeking a BA in Geography as well as a GIS certification. He is passionate about urban community development, empowerment, and place-making. In addition to providing GIS assistance to SURC, Chris is a data research analyst at DePaul's Institute for Housing Studies and a student research assistant for ChiVes.

​Allison Hill
Allison Hill

Major/Program: Public Policy / Community Development

Bio:  Allison holds a BA in Politics and is currently pursuing a master’s in Public Policy with a certificate in Community Development. She is excited to be a part of the SURC because of the opportunity of bolstering her data analysis skills while learning about the unique needs of community organizations.  ​ 

Anna Schlundt
Anna Schlundt

Major/Program: Anthropology / Psychology / Human Development

Bio:  I am a sophomore at DePaul studying Anthropology and Psychology with a concentration in Human Development. As a student, I am driven by active engagement in my community and understanding cultural dynamics. I am excited to be a part of the SURC because of the opportunity to utilize my academic skill set to participate in service-oriented research.   

Ellery Von Holten
Ellery Von Holten

Major/Program: Sociology / Peace, Justice and Conflict

Bio:  My name is Ellery, and I am an undergraduate junior studying sociology with a minor in peace, justice and conflict. I have an interest in urban planning and community engagement.

Erin Koster
Erin Koster

Major/Program: Geography & GIS / Geosciences

Bio:  Erin is a third-year Geography student with a concentration in GIS and Geosciences and is interested in research surrounding rural geography and environmental justice. In her free time, she enjoys trying out baking recipes and reading. 
​Huda Salahuddin
​Huda Salahuddin

Major/Program: International Studies / Arabic / Sociology / Women and Gender Studies

Bio:  Huda Salahuddin is a sophomore at DePaul pursuing a major in International Studies and minors in Arabic, Sociology, and Women and Gender Studies. She is interested in pursuing international law in the future. In her free time, Huda likes to read, paint, and hang out with her friends. 
​Lacy Wright
Lacy Wright

Major/Program: Geography & GIS

Bio:  Lacy Wright is a junior majoring in Geography and obtaining a GIS certificate. She is a GIS teaching assistant and likes to go on walks, listen to music, and watch movies with her friends during her free time. She joined SURC because she is passionate about sustainable urban development and would love to work with community organizations.
Madison Felix
​Madison Felix

Major/Program: Geography & GIS / Public Law / Political Thought / Urban Planning

Bio:  Madison is a junior at DePaul University pursuing a major in Geography and minors in Public Law/Political Thought and Urban Planning. She is also a part of DePaul’s 3+3 Combined BA/JD program. Madison is excited about being a part of the SURC because it’s a great opportunity to connect with community partners and facilitate positive change in and around her neighborhood.
​Melanie Lopez
Melanie Lopez

Major/Program: Sociology / Spanish

Bio:  ​Melanie Lopez is a Senior at DePaul University, currently pursuing a BA in Sociology and a minor in Spanish. She is passionate about Urban community work which is reflected in the community internships she has around the South and West sides of Chicago. She joined the Student Urban Research Corps because it is one of the many ways, she can help Urban communities around Chicago. In her free time, she loves to travel, read, and spend time with her loved ones. 
Sara Aqariden
​Sara Aqariden

Major/Program: International Studies​

Bio:  Sara Aqariden is an undergraduate student majoring in International Studies. She is  very excited to be working with community partners in the city that has also been her campus for the last three years! She feels that SURC provides the opportunity to utilize the research and analytical skills learned in the classrooms to apply it in the real world.
Spencer Sutherland
Spencer Sutherland

Major/Program: Public Policy / Economics

Bio:  Spencer Sutherland is majoring in Public Policy and Economics. He is from Wauconda, Illinois and wanted to join SURC to use his data analysis skills to become more involved with my community.​

Victoria Vega
Victoria Vega

Major/Program: Applied Diplomacy

Bio:  Victoria Vega is an international student from Colombia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics, and currently pursuing a master’s degree in Applied Diplomacy at DePaul University. She is excited to work with SURC where she will be able to apply her technical, analytical, and research skills to impact urban communities positively.​

Past SURC Members by Academic Year


Aamna Fasihi - Public Policy
Alejandro Arakelian - Geography
Alex Stone - Sociology/Journalism
Christopher Impellizeri - Geography
Despina Kokoris - Sociology
Lily Baird - Geography
Mayra Shuja - Sustainable Urban Development
Nils Berglund - Geography
Sonya Koffman - Psychology/Urban Geography & Planning


Alejandro Arakelian - Geography
Alex Stone - Sociology/Journalism
Amira Hady - Sociology/Arabic Studies
Camille Koch - Graduate, Public Service
Christopher Impellizeri - Geography
Effina Jackson - Graduate Public Service
Ella Schneider - Sociology/Marketing
Ellen Bloss - Graduate Sociology
Jennifer Ovist - Geography/Computer Science
Lily Baird - Geography
Nicole Bennett - Sociology/Graphic Design
Sonya Koffman - Psychology/Urban Geography & Planning