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Students at St. Edward’s are special, the sort of people who collectively volunteer nearly 80,000 hours of service each year. Serving others and giving back to our communities is an important part of our identity and how we live out our Holy Cross heritage.

That’s why 10 groups of students from St. Edward’s decided not to spend their spring break soaking up the sun at South Padre Island or Miami, or enjoying the South by Southwest festivals in Austin. Instead, they chose a week of fellowship and service. These Alternative Spring Breaks (ASB) are part of the Service Break Experiences, which also include summer service trips around the world, offered by Campus Ministry.

ASB is a time for reflection, personal growth and serving those in need. Participants agree to live simply, which means no technology. They live in community, sharing space and developing closer relationships with their fellow “ASBers.” And they come home transformed and inspired, knowing they have made the world a better place, even in a small way.

An ASB trip stays with participants long after they graduate. When possible, alumni who have taken part in an ASB trip (or who just want to keep in touch with the university) meet up with current students in ASB locations. This year, the students who traveled to Denver had lunch with a group of nine alumni who live there. Alumni shared advice about life after graduation, and the ASB students shared the latest news from St. Edward’s. And they connected over their shared values — notably, the importance of helping others.

“I think about all of the people I know who have graduated from St. Edward’s. Whether they’re working in the public, private or nonprofit sector, they’re all finding ways to give back and make a difference,” says Ryan Grundy ’12, who attended the lunch. “The students I met at this event were no different.”

The Denver students served at a number of sites throughout the week: painting a house for older citizens facing poverty, assisting the elderly at Little Sisters of the Poor, and helping the homeless get back on their feet at the St. Francis Center, the Women’s Bean Project and EarthLinks.

“It's crazy how much I changed as a person in just one week,” says Anna Lopez ’17, a Communication major who traveled to Denver. “Overall, the whole trip teaches you not to take life for granted, and it builds a fire inside of you that makes you want to make a difference. My perspective on social justice and life changed in a positive way.

 

Annual Alternative Spring Break Trips

Denver is just one of 10 locations ASB students visit each year. In 2015, students traveled to these sites.

  • Apache Awareness: White Mountain Apache Tribe, Arizona
  • Homelessness and Hospitality: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Entertaining Angels: Los Angeles, California
  • Building Bridges: San Francisco, California
  • Border Experience: El Paso, Texas
  • Gulf Coast Recovery: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Hurricane Katrina Relief: Biloxi, Mississippi
  • Si Se Puede: Kansas
  • Mile High Poverty: Denver, Colorado
  • Urban Immersion: Chicago, Illinois

Learn more about these ASB opportunities.

Read more stories from Hilltopper Insights.