Allie Short, Miss WCU 2020, Brings Awareness to Homelessness and Housing Insecurity
Allison M. Short, crowned Miss WCU 2020 on Feb. 8, chose as her platform WCU’s Promise Program/homelessness awareness. A third-year social work major in the Honors Certificate Program minoring in women and gender studies, she is an intern with the Academic Success Program this semester as well as a resident assistant (RA) in Allegheny Hall.
“There is a misperception around the concept of homelessness, and I want to help to change the stigma,” Short emphasizes. “I aim to get the West Chester University community involved with fundraising efforts to show them that homelessness is a problem they should care about, as it affects all different communities.”
Now 23, Short became homeless at age 18 and is part of the Promise Program on campus, which supports WCU’s at-risk youth year-round, from housing on campus including between semesters; food and supplies from the Resource Pantry; a safe space to share successes and challenges; and more.
“The Promise Program is extremely grateful that Allie has decided to make homelessness and housing insecurity her platform to bring attention to the issues our students and many other youths in our state face on a day-to-day basis,” notes Tori Nuccio, WCU’s Single Point of Contact for unaccompanied foster and homeless youth and interim associate director of WCU’s Financial Aid Office.
Noting that “status comes with the crown,” Short feels she’ll be able to move her platform forward and initiate collaborations promoting homelessness awareness thanks to becoming Miss WCU 2020. One of her current links is the West Chester-based Friends Association, a non-profit that helps homeless or near homeless families, where she has volunteered since 2017.
Short was inspired by fellow RA Jamie Thomas-McDowell, Miss WCU 2018, whose platform was Cityteam, a non-profit that provides services and support to low-income, addicted, and homeless residents of Chester, her hometown. Thomas-McDowell became involved with the WCU Resource Pantry and Short says she was impressed by her confidence and drive to collaborate and raise awareness.
“I want to continue to advocate that you do not know a person’s circumstances by looking at them, and that even now, in 2020, homelessness is a problem that affects many different types of people.”
One of the best things Short says about participating is the tremendous amount of support the contestants give one another. “We feel that we’re part of something special. Every one of us wants everyone else to succeed.” She also credits alumnus Michael Hartman ’02, whose energy and enthusiasm are contagious, and who has organized the contest since its origins as “Miss Killinger Hall” in 1998.
Short plans to earn a master’s of social work degree and begin a career “in the foster care system to become the point of contact for children who do not have anyone else to rely on.”
The Miss West Chester University scholarship organization, sponsored by Residence Life and Housing, offers opportunities for female WCU students to represent their community service platforms and to express themselves through talent, casual wear, and evening gown attire, while competing for scholarships.