Alumni Award: Outstanding Recent Alumna
In her professional life, Rachel K. Beatty '06 aspires to address homelessness systematically through public policy. As the interim executive director of the Homeless Planning Council of Delaware, she is a leader in efforts to relieve homelessness in the state.
A job with Meeting Ground Inc. helped Beatty discover her direction. Meeting Ground, a nonprofit organization in Maryland, provides services for people experiencing homelessness.
"I was shocked ... that we, as a society, allow people to live without access to the most basic of human needs," she says, "and that our systems of care are often unable, for a variety of reasons, to help the very people who need the most help."
After observing the important role of policy in addressing homelessness, Beatty decided to further her education. In 2014, she earned a master's degree in urban affairs and public policy from the University of Delaware.
Serving in the Peace Corps from 2006 to 2008 was also key in defining her career. After volunteering on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Beatty said she found herself "more dedicated than ever to working to address social challenges here in the United States." She followed her Peace Corps position with an AmeriCorps one, working at a community center in a low-income neighborhood in Delaware.
The time abroad also gave Beatty real-world examples of concepts she learned as a sociology major at Susquehanna. Her undergraduate education continues to provide a useful framework in her daily life.
"I think it is unfortunate that not all people who work to address social issues at the policy level have some background in sociology or a related field," Beatty says. "Sociology and cultural anthropology have helped me to understand the context of my work ... and have meaningful insight as to how particular policies and programs will actually impact the lives of people in our communities."