Fighting Homelessness

Stephanie Applegate

Stephanie Applegate ’17 

As a sophomore at Dickinson, Stephanie Applegate ’17 took a course that connected her with a local homeless shelter. Now, she’s researching homelessness in the area and has become a founding board member of a new nonprofit devoted to the issue. She’s also serving her fourth undergrad internship—this one on the Pennsylvania Senate. Applegate discusses what she’s learning in that role, the encounter that inspired her senior thesis, the most interesting class she’s taken at Dickinson and more.


Policy management, Spanish minor.

Clubs and organizations:  

Policy Studies Majors Committee (chair), Dining Services (student supervisor), Food Advisory Council member, Alpha Lambda Delta, Sigma Delta Pi, Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society.


United Methodist Higher Education Foundation Scholarship and Dean’s List.

Favorite TV show: 

Parks and Recreation.

Favorite place on campus: 

The Academic Quad.

Favorite class:

Religion in American Politics with [Assistant] Professor [of Political Science David] O’Connell, because it taught me so much about the intersection of these two topics that touch all of our lives in so many ways. The relationship between politics and religion in this country, as we learned in the class, is incredibly complex and fascinating, and it was exciting and enlightening to discuss the implications of this relationship with other students on campus.

Favorite Dining Hall food: 

KOVE fish tacos.

As a kid, I wanted to be …

a paleontologist, because I loved dinosaurs more than anything. Obviously, my path has changed a little since then, but I still think dinosaurs are cool.

About my research:

My senior thesis is on the topic of homelessness in Carlisle, specifically researching community-based solutions to permanently house Carlisle’s homeless population.

As a sophomore, I enrolled in the Foundations in Policy course, which is required for my major. We completed a semesterlong group project in partnership with Carlisle CARES, the local homeless shelter, and as part of the project, each student was asked to spend one night at CARES to learn more about the issue. During my night, I met a girl who went to my elementary school and was staying in the shelter; I was struck by the fact that two people could begin life in the same place, with the same opportunities laid before them, and end up in two wildly different places. This experience motivated me to want to do something about it.

Throughout my research, I’ve become heavily involved in the community, and I’ve also been able to sit on the board as one of the founding members of a new nonprofit in Carlisle called NOAH (New Options for Affordable Housing). Hopefully, as NOAH grows and establishes a presence in the community, our goal of finding permanent housing solutions for those in need will be realized.

Little-known hobby/talent:

Just this semester, I’ve been given the opportunity to get back into playing the piano. I took lessons for 10 years as a kid but had to quit in 10th grade because I couldn’t devote the time to it anymore. I didn’t realize how much I missed playing until beginning lessons at Dickinson again this semester. I’m by no means a stellar pianist, but I owe it to Dickinson for reintroducing me to something that I love doing.

About my internships:

I’ve had four internships since coming to Dickinson, all very rewarding experiences. However, my current internship with the Pennsylvania Senate stands out from the others because it most closely resembles what I want in my future career. It’s fast-paced, exciting and requires on-the-fly critical thinking. The people I work with are brilliant, kind and easy to get along with. The Pennsylvania Capitol building is the most beautiful and ornate capitol in America, and I’m honored to work there. And, most importantly, the nature of the work in the senate is, at its core, to help the citizens of Pennsylvania. This is the type of work that I could see myself doing beyond this internship and into my future career.

What I learned through this experience:

The entire purpose of my internship with the senate is to learn as much as I can about state government and the people who make it work, and since I started this internship in late January, I’ve learned more than I could possibly recount here. However, one basic skill that I’m thankful to be given the opportunity to practice is networking. I’ve not only learned how to further develop this skill, but I’ve also learned how vital it is to succeeding in this field.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I hope to continue my education and get my master’s in public policy, so that I can serve the citizens of Pennsylvania through a career in public service with the state.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

How to respect and live alongside people who are vastly different from me in their beliefs, hobbies, life experiences, worldviews, you name it. I love so many people here, and I feel blessed to be friends with other Dickinsonians who come from different walks of life and bring so many amazing qualities and beliefs to our relationship. Learning about their worldviews and sharing my own with them in return, has been rewarding and has taught me a very valuable lesson in friendship.

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Published May 2, 2017