Isabella Fons (Carnegie Mellon, Allegheny County) - Honorable Mention, West Higher Ed

About Isabella: I am a rising senior at Carnegie Mellon University double majoring in Information Systems and Statistics. I'm originally from Houston, Texas, but Pittsburgh has truly become my home!

Judges' Statement

Isabella had a compelling personal statement. She did a nice job with her outreach on her map, and she collected endorsements as well.

Personal Statement

Being from the 3rd most diverse county in America (Fort Bend), but living in one of the most states (Texas), I wanted to create districts for the new state I call home (Pennsylvania) that empowers minorities to elect as many representatives as possible who represent them.

While maximizing majority-minority districts seems to be the best way to empower minorities, the Washington Post has shown that this can actually dilute their power but only limiting them to certain districts. Therefore, I sought to prioritize spreading the minority vote into as many districts as possible, while still leaving sufficiently high percentages to ensure their votes are still impactful in elections.

This was a class assignment for 67-279 Intro to Geographic Information Systems at Carnegie Mellon University, so I was fortunate to receive guidance and input from professors and classmates.

There were many challenges I had while working to redistrict. One was making sure districts were contiguous, it was really easy to accidentally select a small blockgroup of the wrong color and then finding and correcting it layer. Another problem I had was getting the populations for each district to be within the proper range since in Philadelphia and surrounding cities, the population is so much more dense than in most of Pennsylvania. Lastly, it took quite a bit of focus and attention to detail to try to get the districts to have a good spread of minorities, as the racial breakdown of two very geographically close blockgroups can vary so much.