Alt Breaks 2017

by Katie Yeaton

One of the best opportunities I have had in my Master’s program is to get involved with our Student Engagement and Diversity office for Alternative Breaks.  This year I joined the San Francisco group once again to focus on food and housing insecurity.  Volunteering with six non-profit organizations was a thrill and I was happy to join our students and get the chance to serve the local community.  I am also excited to see how our students will continue pursuing these social justice initiatives on campus in the final month of the semester.  Overall, this past week was a whirlwind of volunteering and reflection, and I am humble to be a part of a passionate and dedicated team.

I wish to reflect a little on my thoughts coming into the Staff Site Leader position this year.  In the words of one of my mentors, it takes one year to learn the job and at least a second year to do it well.  Following this great advice, my initial apprehensions about this trip being the same as last year were dashed.  I knew the managerial aspects and tasks would be the same, but the group dynamic and students would be different.  This different group meant different perspectives and lenses.  As a student affairs educator, seeing students challenge themselves to go beyond their comfort zones and open their perceptions is exhilarating.  Having some Alt Break returners from other trips, one returner from last year’s San Francisco trip, and the remainder of our group as newcomers was terrific because our students got to make the trip their own without comparing to previous Alt Breaks.

My top recommendation for anyone--Higher Education Master’s students, faculty, and staff--who is looking to get more involved with service and social justice is to look into your university’s Alt Break program.  If they do not have a program, look to see if there is a volunteer student group who would like to start such an initiative.

Now that my second Alternative Break is in the books and now comes the short stretch to the finish line.  Best of luck to all of you with the rest of this school year!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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