There is a hard-working immigrant women who can’t hug her children tonight because they are in another country while she works to provide them with a better life.
For a parent, this is a heartbreaking scenario. University of Northern Iowa junior Heather Applegate hopes to prevent these situations from happening by working with immigrants after earning her degree at UNI.
“It's become what I've been drawn to. I fell into it,” said Applegate. “I can't say that I picked it. All the people I've met in my life, all the things I've seen and all the families I've seen break apart… it lends itself to not let you get away without feeling attached.”
Applegate found the perfect major – sociology – and the perfect institution – UNI – to pursue her goals.
“Sociology was interesting,” Applegate said. “It was what I love. It was what I was good at. I've always been interested in people that weren't just the ones I grew up with, so starting to understand how cultures develop and how social problems change is fascinating.
“Coming to UNI, I realized this was something I could study,” said Applegate. “People are important, other cultures are important. We are not going to get anywhere if we don't understand how they work together.”
In recognition of Applegate’s hard work, she received the Alderman Scholarship. The award assists needy, worthy and appreciative students within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
“Being recognized for being where I am despite things that should not have let me come to where I am today is huge,” Applegate said. “It's a reaffirmation that I am important as a student and that I am important as a person, and what I can do is valuable to the community, to the state and to the country. It makes me feel very proud that I am worth the investment.”
As a scholarship recipient, Applegate has been able to explore her interests further at UNI. The scholarship has allowed her to be involved with UNI Rise, the UNI Free Thinkers and Inquirers and serve as a Northern Iowa Student Government Senator for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
“When you're involved in organizations that have other people with meaningful goals, it opens you up to more ideas, discussion and perspectives,” said Applegate. “It's like having another class sometimes when you have so many other people that are so smart, or have so many other different perspectives. Your world gets a little bit bigger every day when you have that many people in your life.”
Applegate hopes to pursue a master’s degree after she graduates from UNI. You can make a difference in the lives of students like Applegate today by visiting uni-foundation.org.
“Every dollar, every thought, and every act of compassion makes every bit of difference,” Applegate said. “It's a reminder that we are important, not just as students at a university paying tuition, but as individuals being invested in the community.”