Kaylen Phillips (Temple Univ.) - Honorable Mention, Eastern Higher Ed

About Kaylen: I am a Temple University student studying Geography and Urban Studies with plans to complete a Master's of City and Regional Planning. I love fantasy maps and city building simulations!

Judges' Statement

Kaylen produced a map with metrics that are above the median score all around. Their map does a find job of keeping bigger communities of interest together. When compared to such a strong group of competitors in this division, their personal statement could've had more meat on the bone. However, Kaylen's map was well worth an honorable mention, and their work in engaging additional high school mappers through Temple's Upward Bound program in Philadelphia was invaluable.

Personal Statement

This summer I led a mapping elective at Upward Bound to engage high school students in the understanding and correcting of gerrymandering. It was very interesting to hear all their different perspectives on the issue – you might say I learned from them as much as they learned from me! Their frustration over the very political process influenced me to prioritize competitive elections and minority representation over something that seemed shallower like contiguity or compactness, though those things are also important. It was difficult to make competitive districts in PA where such large swaths of land are republican, and I was struggling with ways to fairly distribute democratic parts of cities like Philly and Pittsburg with the surrounding rural areas while maintaining community interest. Clearly it is very difficult to balance those things, and I ended up prioritizing competitive elections and minority representation instead.

2020 is a big year in redistricting efforts, and because I will be an emerging college graduate and in a few years, entry level city planner looking for a stable post-Covid economy with representatives with my best interests, I am very interested in the community-led redistricting efforts.