Student Alternative Spring Break Trips: Pioneers Serving Others Before Themselves


Students spend their spring break making a difference through Habitat for Humanity. Photo courtesy of Lexi Aleksa.

By Nicole Croteau

Staff Reporter

From March 5 to 11, Sacred Heart University students provided community service as they traveled to Ohio, North Carolina, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia and other locations during the week.

Four faculty members, 49 students and two staff members traveled around the world participating in community service-oriented, educational trips.

“I traveled to Bogotá, Colombia with 10 other Sacred Heart students to participate in the annual Rise and Walk Foundation mission trip,” said senior Allison Imhoff. “During our time in Bogotá, we performed a home renovation for a family, provided a month’s worth of groceries to four families and assisted in the after-school program within the foundation.”

Students lived with host families and were able to spent time in local communities to learn about different cultures.

“I think that having the opportunity to go on a mission trip is so unique and something that all college students should try to do before they graduate,” said Imhoff. “It is an experience of a lifetime and one that you will never forget.”

Habitat for Humanity went to various locations around the nation and assisted families that were affected by natural disasters and or poverty.

“Habitat for Humanity is a great experience and so rewarding,” said junior Alexandra Aleksa. “I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my spring break any other way. While being in Des Moines, we helped build houses for families that are less fortunate. Overall the experience was unbelievable and something that I would love to return to.”

Some went to Des Moines, Iowa with a Habitat for Humanity affiliate, and worked with families while learning about hope and positivity.

“One of the main reasons I chose Sacred Heart for my undergraduate career, and continued my education here for my master’s degree, is because of SHU’s ability to challenge its students,” said Jillian Gray, a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning, in a statement to the university. “I was once told by a close friend of mine that life begins outside of your comfort zone, and ever since that day, I have challenged myself to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

For students that went out of the country, immersion in another culture was a powerful experience.

Those who traveled to Nicaragua provided community service to children in poverty-stricken schools, specifically a school named Solidaridad.

“We would walk thirty minutes to the school and teach the children about the importance of nutrition, health and staying in school,” said Ferriby. “I will be forever grateful for this opportunity to better understand these beautiful people and the many difficult lives they live.”

While in Nicaragua, students also worked with women at Asilo De Ancianos La Providencia, a retirement home located in the

They interacted with women in the retirement home, celebrated International Women’s Day and learned about their lives.

“We learned so much from everyone just by listening,” said junior Adilene Garcia in a statement to the university. “I know I will take what I learned from this experience and reflect on it for the rest of my life.”

For more information on how to get involved with service trips or other community service opportunities, contact Matthew Kaye, the Director of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning, at

“I learned that you really don’t need much to be happy in life,” said Ferriby. “Service has shown me the beauty behind listening to understand, as well as the power that comes with the ability to speak.”


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