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Student leading ambitious Habitat for Humanity project

by Janet Cappiello, communications and marketing last modified Apr 11, 2014 09:01 AM

A University of Louisville sophomore is leading an ambitious effort to build the first completely student-funded Habitat for Humanity house in the city.

Student leading ambitious Habitat for Humanity project

Stephanie Dooper on the Red Carpet at Clinton Global Initiative University 2014.

Stephanie Dooper, 20, vice president of the university’s Habitat for Humanity student chapter, needs to raise $44,000 to build the house. She hopes to be able to find a site near the Belknap campus and to possibly have a UofL family from Family Scholar House move in.

“I want it to be a completely student-led initiative,” Dooper said, emphasizing that she needs a large team of students to get the job done. She added, “I’m not going to be able to do it alone.”

Last month, Dooper became the first UofL student to attend the prestigious Clinton Global Initiative University, an annual meeting of students from around the world who discuss their plans for projects that address needs in five areas: education; environment and climate change; peace and human rights; poverty alleviation; and public health. This year’s meeting was held at Arizona State University with more than 1,100 students from 80 countries and all 50 states. (CGIU officials said Berea College was the only other higher education institution from Kentucky represented this year.)

Dooper said hearing about and talking with students about their projects -- including her roommates from Scotland setting up a bike rental program on their campus and a group from Latin America teaching older women about sustainable farming -- convinced her that her Habitat project goal was achievable.

A triple major (Spanish, Latin American and Latino Studies and Liberal Studies focusing on International Relations), the Owensboro native got her start with Habitat while a student at Owensboro Catholic High School. By her sophomore year of high school, she attended Habitat’s national conference. This year, she traveled to Washington, D.C., as a Habitat Youth Scholar to advocate for housing needs in Kentucky. She also serves on the family selection committee of the Louisville Habitat chapter.

Dooper said oftentimes college students don’t realize how difficult it is for struggling families to find housing.

“We’re living on campus, we’re living in affiliated housing,” she said. “We’re not seeing the other side. Even for me, I’ve been working for Habitat a long time, I still get shocked.”

 

Dooper, who will graduate in 2016, hopes to start building the house by the fall of 2015. Those wishing to donate can visit her website at http://www.gofundme.com/84ryx4.

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