Taylor Dinehart has always been interested in public service and in improving the lives of others. After serving in the military, she earned a Master of Urban and Regional Planning and is now pursing a Master in Public Health as USF. Her goal is to complete her degree and begin a career at the intersection of public health and urban planning in the Tampa Bay Area. She dreams of a day when she can point to a street, intersection, park, or block and assert that she helped in making it more safe, healthy, and beautiful for the community. She is passionate about researching and expanding multimodal transportation, walkability, mixed-use zoning, green space, and social justice.
Why did you initially go into the military? This is a bit of a long story, but the short version is that I actually wanted to be a fiction writer. Graduating from high school, I didn’t feel that I had enough life experience to be good at building worlds and writing compelling characters and emotions. I just hadn’t really done anything yet, and I didn’t want to just regurgitate what other authors had written. I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the military at all, but I thought that it would be a good place to meet people, see the world, and collect experiences. This was before 9/11, by the way!
When I was a freshmen and in ROTC, 9/11 happened and plunged us into war. This started me on a life I wasn’t expecting: I ended up as an attack pilot and I deployed into combat. Writing a book went out of the window, and I really could only focus on this stressful life (which I ended up being really good at and loving!) and trying to protect and care for my soldiers.
Why transportation? Transportation is such a huge part of urban planning. While I would like to be more of a jack-of-all-trades planner in the long run, I think any planner worth their salt should have a really firm grasp of transportation and how it affects cities and communities. I ended up at CUTR because I took a graduate course in multi-modal transportation with Kristine Williams while I was working on a graduate certificate at the Patel School of Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida. She liked the work I did on a project we completed for Manatee County and asked me if I would be interested in working for her. Since I am relatively new to Florida and still looking for a full-time job, I thought that the experience of working for CUTR and the connections and network I can build along the way could really help me reach my career goals.
What do you hope to do with or in public health? I think urban planning and public health are closely linked, so I would like to work in the urban planning sector and transportation, but I want to focus on making sure that plans and policies always keep public health at the forefront.
What are some of your hobbies? I have three English setters which I love, so I like to go on long runs and hikes with them! I love to travel and explore and that includes mini-road trips throughout the United States and all the way to traveling to remote world destinations. I like to snowboard a little in the winter. I read a ton. I like artsy-crafty type activities, so I am always trying to draw or paint or sew although I am only “okay” at each of those. And I love to find new breakfast and coffee places! …but I haven’t been doing that because of COVID.