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Student leaders have high expectations for the 18th year of Alternative Breaks

A bunch of students crouched over looking at the camera

Illinois State students on an Alternative Break trip.

Every year, Illinois State University sends students locally, nationally, and globally to volunteer and enact social change.

Students seeking this experience have the option to choose between Alternative Spring Break (ASB), Alternative Winter Break (AWB), Alternative Summer Break (ASuB), and even Alternative Weekends.

Next week, Illinois State will send five groups of students to Paradise, Texas; Paragould, Arkansas; Sacramento, California; St. Louis; and New Orleans.

Students that have gone on a previous Alternative Break have the option to apply to be a trip or bus leader on their next adventure. Selected students hold training sessions for the participants during the months leading up to the trip.

Rachel Sterling, a senior nursing major, will be a trip leader for the group heading to Camp Summit in Paradise. The group she leads will provide a summer camp experience for people with disabilities. 

Click here to learn how you can support students seeking this volunteer experience.

“I am excited to go on this trip as a leader because this group is getting to work with a different demographic that many of us haven’t worked with before. I think that volunteering at this camp is going to be a very rewarding experience for our participants and the leaders,” said Sterling.

Junior Ben Wyland, who is a double major in music education and flute performance as well as a bus leader, spoke on his excitement for facilitating a positive environment on his trip.

“I’m hoping to learn how to create an environment in which everyone in the group can blossom and use their abilities to improve the experience for everyone,” said Wyland.

Wyland’s group will head to Living Lands and Waters in St. Louis to help clean up the Mississippi River.

Senior nursing major Maggie McKeating is a trip leader on the same upcoming trip.

“I wanted to become a trip leader because the Alternative Break program does great things for the communities we work with, you get to work with and meet amazing people, and each trip has positively impacted my life in some way while still being fun,” McKeating said.

Next week will be McKeating’s third and final trip as a student. She said she applied to be a trip leader in order to help support the next generation of Alternative Break students.

“I wanted to be able to give back to the program, help other participants get a positive experience, and gain leadership skills,” added McKeating.

Applications for the waiting list for Alternative Summer Break are now being accepted. The summer group will travel to Ngong Hills, Kenya.