Students help local residents love where they live 

Students in UW Bothell’s School of Business provide the city of Kenmore a comprehensive view of its residents’ visions for the city’s future.

At the University of Washington Bothell, learning extends beyond the four walls of a classroom. Through Community-Engaged Learning & Research courses, students get access to hands-on, reflective, skill-building opportunities that benefit partners locally and around the world. 

“Through a mutually beneficial exchange with community partners,” said Nick Cuhaciyan, an adjunct lecturer in UW Bothell’s School of Business, “students apply theory to practice, develop professional experience and contribute to the public good.” 

Cuhaciyan is also a senior global program manager at Amazon, using data and analytics to support customers around the world. He received his MBA from UW Bothell in 2015 and has been back as a teacher since 2019, covering topics such as business consulting and project management. 

“I love interacting with students in an academic environment where they learn and develop skills that can directly transfer to a professional work environment,” he said. 

During autumn quarter 2023, for example, Cuhaciyan shared his expertise and experiences in a course titled Business Project Management. Students in the class worked with the city of Kenmore on a year-long community engagement project — called Love Where You Live — designed to get feedback on the city’s values and goals. 

Content and context 

“The city of Kenmore has partnered with UW Bothell on multiple projects in the past, and we continue to see successful outcomes through this partnership,” said Lauren Chomiak, communications specialist for the city. “This class was tasked with organizing, analyzing and synthesizing a large amount of data that was collected through a series of community engagement events last summer.” 

Adan Rodriguez, a senior majoring in Business Administration and in Mechanical Engineering, was one of the students who worked on the project. “We focused on ensuring that the insights we extracted from the data accurately reflected the aspirations and concerns expressed by the residents of Kenmore,” he said. “As a team, we recognized the significance of gathering feedback that genuinely represented the values and goals of the community.” 

The students drew insights from 25 in-person events during which 759 people shared their expectations and from one online survey which was completed by 145 people. The in-person events primarily documented residents’ suggestions for improvements that Kenmore needs, while the online survey focused on asking residents what they value most about living in Kenmore and what their top priorities are for the future of the city. 

“This extensive data set offered varied viewpoints,” Rodriguez said, “serving as a strong base for our analysis — and subsequent decision-making.” 

A group photo.
Business Project Management students (l-r): Kayla Park, Aurelia Jacquelinne, Jedy Alexander, Myriam Mai, Hao (Gary) Fu, Adan Rodriguez, Sahej Oberoi, Vanny Nguyen, Muhammad AbuBakar, Abdul Zia. Image credit: Nick Cuhaciyan.

Attractions and access 

Analyzing the data, the students discovered that residents’ concerns revolved around community-space construction, business growth and climate-action implementation. 

“Notably, a recurring theme in the responses is the development of Lakepointe, a yet-to-be constructed, 40-acre waterfront site,” said Hao Fu, a senior majoring in Business Administration. “Many residents felt that the city hasn’t allocated sufficient attention to Lakepointe and its potential to integrate shopping, food and scenic beauty.” 

The residents also shared their thoughts on the renovation of Log Boom Park, a landmark attraction in Kenmore. “Most of them expressed satisfaction with Log Boom’s renovation, while others suggested potential improvements such as expanding its size, adding more parking facilities or enhancing traffic regulation,” Fu said. 

“Furthermore, residents commended the presence of The Hangar — a free community-gathering space — and expressed a desire for more places similar to it to facilitate community activities in Kenmore.” 

Beyond landmark attractions and buildings, residents also emphasized their expectations for the city’s accessibility. “They hope for increased government investment in urban and park trail construction, aiming not only to ease residents’ travel but also to cater to the needs of the elderly and disabled population,” Rodriguez said. 

Insights and infographics 

The students then created infographics to accompany their data reviews and analyses. 

“Selecting the most suitable infographic format proved challenging,” Fu said. “From choosing the right layout and font color relevant to the project to ensuring overall consistency, our team invested considerable time in developing an effective infographic plan.”  

Because some responses spanned multiple categories, the students initially thought about using a Venn diagram. “The city representatives also expressed interest in this approach during our meeting,” Fu said. “However, we found that using Venn diagrams made it challenging to visualize the data effectively. 

“The difficulty arose in accurately counting and highlighting residents’ primary concerns in each category,” he explained. “Consequently, we decided to abandon the format in favor of a doughnut chart, aiming for a more comprehensive and accurate presentation of the data.” 

I feel so fortunate that the city of Kenmore’s partnership with UW Bothell and hope that, in turn, we can continue to provide helpful, real-world projects for students to tackle and learn from.

Lauren Chomiak, communications specialist, city of Kenmore

A flourishing future 

The students’ careful work and data presentation was well received by the city. 

“The students were incredibly collaborative and thorough, providing valuable objective perspectives and thoughtful results,” said Chomiak. “The project would not have progressed to where it is today without the support and combined talents of the student team. 

“I feel so fortunate that the city of Kenmore’s partnership with UW Bothell and hope that, in turn, we can continue to provide helpful, real-world projects for students to tackle and learn from.” 

Cuhaciyan was also quite impressed with his students’ dedication. “They took this project very seriously,” he said. “They went above and beyond for the city of Kenmore, and I am extremely proud of how they represented the University. Their work ethic, passion and determination were truly commendable.” 

Rodriguez also made a point of expressing his gratitude to the city of Kenmore, saying, “We want to thank Kenmore again for this opportunity to complete this meaningful project on behalf of UW Bothell. While our current work is concluding, the Love Where You Live project is still ongoing. We sincerely hope that our efforts this quarter contributed to the ongoing development of the city. 

“We firmly believe that, given the multitude of residents who love and feel a strong sense of belonging to this city, Kenmore is poised for a brighter and flourishing future.” 

In addition to Fu and Rodriguez, students Muhammad AbuBakar, Jedy Alexander, Aurelia Jacquelinne, Myriam Mai, Vanny Nguyen, Sahej Oberoi, Kayla Park and Abdul Zia worked on the Love Where You Live project. 

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