The Class of 2019: Caroline Dickensheets, MSHP’19

The Class of 2019: Caroline Dickensheets, MSHP’19

Student spotlight: Caroline Dickensheets, MSHP’19

By Lauren Hertzler


For Caroline Dickensheets, art history has always been a passion, but also shining through has been her love of architecture. She meshed the two fields during her undergrad at Wellesley College, and now, at Penn’s School of Design for her master’s, she’s taking on historic preservation.

Dickensheets, from Atlanta, is in her second year of the program—she’ll graduate in May. So far, she’s appreciated the opportunities Penn has provided her, especially those specific to being in historic Philadelphia.

“Philadelphia is really our playground and our research lab,” she explains. “There is no shortage of unique, special buildings in this city to explore.”

Outside of classwork, Dickensheets stays active in the community by working closely with the nonprofit Rebuilding Together Philadelphia. She and other students from Penn spend an entire weekend in the spring doing a “block build” with the organization, working to improve people’s old homes. Dickensheets also helps raise funds for the projects and coordinates volunteers.

She’s also been able to discover conservation outside of such an urban area. This past summer through an internship with PennDesign’s Center for Architectural Conservation, Dickensheets traveled to the southwest, doing condition assessments of adobe ruins at Fort Union National Monument.

“It’s a completely different landscape for me, going from urban Philadelphia to really remote New Mexico and Arizona areas,” she says. “It also allowed me to work with people at all different levels of their careers—very seasoned professors and researchers, recent graduates, and fellow interns.”

A transformative experience indeed, Dickensheets says, “it felt very collaborative and made me feel confident in my choice of this career path.”

Caroline Dickensheets is a 2018-19 recipient of the Pittman Family Scholars Endowed Fellowship, which supports graduate students at PennDesign. She also received support from The Dawn and Brian Gonick Architecture Conservation Professional Development Fund, which provides financial support to allow students from the Historic Preservation Department to attend professional development activities within their field.