Political science student researches housing policy in APEX fellowship

Alaina Cline '25

Alaina Cline ’25, a political science student at The College of Wooster, was scrolling through Instagram one day when she found a post made by APEX that highlighted Social Justice Internships available in the Wooster community. She applied and was accepted for an APEX fellowship with Trinity United Church of Christ, where she worked as a research associate for housing. After serving a daily breakfast to low-income residents of Wooster, Cline researched policies that criminalize people experiencing homelessness, as well as how the church can help address homelessness within the local community. Cline says this opportunity gave her the confidence to carry out a research project independently, a skill that will be extremely useful as she completes her time at Wooster and pursues a Ph.D. after graduation.

“The program allowed me to think about the role of the church in both charity and social justice. I am hoping to carry these lessons with me into future activism and engagement with the community.”

—Alaina Cline ’25

What were some of the things you did each day? 

“On a normal day, I served breakfast to low-income and unhoused residents of Wooster. In the afternoon, I conducted an independent research project about policies that criminalize people experiencing homelessness. I also researched policy solutions that Trinity UCC can enact to address homelessness.” 

What interests you most about the work you did? 

One of my favorite parts of my internship at Trinity UCC was working at the breakfast program. It was fulfilling to do tangible work in the community and see the positive impact that the breakfast program has on people’s lives. In addition to a hot meal, Trinity UCC provides a space to build community and connect people with resources. The program allowed me to think about the role of the church in both charity and social justice. I am hoping to carry these lessons with me into future activism and engagement with the community.” 

Who was your fellowship mentor and how did they help you to succeed in this position? 

“Sarah Sobeck, professor of chemistry and associate dean for experiential learning, was my fellowship mentor. Her in-depth feedback helped me to think about different aspects of my internship and how they will apply to future academic and career opportunities. She was also helpful in providing suggestions for my research report.” 

What are some skills you’ve learned that you see yourself carrying forward in your career? 

“This internship has added to the research skills that I have learned at Wooster. I now have the confidence to carry out an independent research project. The internship affirmed my love of research, and I intend to pursue my Ph.D. in political science after I graduate from Wooster. I am interested in studying the intersection of religion and politics and how religion motivates people to engage in violent or peaceful actions.” 

Posted in Experiential Learning, Showcase Stories 2023 on August 11, 2023.

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Related Areas of Study

Religious Studies

An interdisciplinary, academic approach to the study of religion that includes history, art, theology, and more.

Major Minor

Political Science

The study of power, with concentrations in U.S. politics, international relations, political theory and comparative politics.

Major Minor

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