Anthropology Student Studies Homelessness

Rebbeca young Anthropology graduate student, Rebecca Young, ’14, currently has an article under review in the peer reviewed journal, Human Organization, about homelessness in Orlando and Oviedo. Rebecca has done research on this topic for four years and has presented her work widely at the largest conferences in the U.S. Rebecca started attending UCF in fall 2010 and earned a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with Honors and a minor in Leadership Studies in 2014.

“My research is on homelessness in Central Florida. Specifically, I use ethnographic research methods to examine perspectives of homelessness and strategies used by homeless persons themselves, staff members at a local non-profit food pantry, and policymakers in Orlando and Orange County,” explained Rebecca.

Her whole M.A. program was funded by UCF Research and Mentoring Program (RAMP) as a first generation student, and she was also a member of the LEAD Scholars program. Rebecca will be attending Florida International University for its Ph.D. program in Global & Sociocultural Studies, to research homelessness in Miami.

Associate Professor of Anthropology Joanna Mishtal, Ph.D., believes “[Rebecca] is one of those success cases we can be so proud of at UCF where a student from very modest circumstances excels with the support of various UCF programs and faculty.”

Rebecca shared more on her research, herself, and her advice to current students:

Where are you conducting your research?

My main research site is the non-profit organization Hope Helps, which aims to prevent homelessness through a food pantry, thrift store, and case management. It is the site where I conducted participant observation and interviewed staff and persons who had experienced homelessness that came into the food pantry. For my research I’ve also visited other local non-profits in Orlando, the Orlando and Orange County Mayor’s offices, and community events such as the 2016 Central Florida Poverty Conference.

Have you presented research at any conferences or events?

I’ve presented my undergraduate and master’s research at the 2013, 2014, and 2015 American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings, and at the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Society for Applied Anthropology (SFAA) Conferences.

Is there anyone who made an impact on your research experience?

I would like to thank my thesis chairs, Dr. Joanna Mishtal and Dr. Ty Matejowsky, for their support and guidance. And my thesis committee, Dr. Amy Donley and Dr. Beatriz Reyes-Foster, for their feedback on my research. I’d also like to thank Hope Helps. I’ve been volunteering with them since 2011. The staff and volunteers are very welcoming and have been extremely supportive of my research there.

What do you do for fun?

I love to travel and check out new places, especially when I travel to other cities for conferences. The last SFAA conference was in Vancouver, BC, so while I was there I was able to go hiking in the mountains, shop in China Town, and explore Granville Island. While traveling I like to try new food and beer from local breweries. When I’m in Florida I like to go to the beach and play board games with my friends and roommates.

What advice do you have for current and future Anthropology students?

My advice is to talk regularly with professors to find more ways to be involved. It’s important to have mentors that can guide you and help you reach your goals. Also, if you plan to conduct research, make sure you choose something you are extremely interested in and passionate about, since it helps you remain focused and committed throughout the project.

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