Jenna Sheldon-Sherman

Where and when was your first Alternative Break? What organization did you work with?
I took my first Alternative Break sophomore year of college to the Houston AIDS foundation.  Our primary purpose was to help prepare the Foundation for Camp Hope, the first summer camp for HIV-positive children in Texas.  We also volunteered with Stone Soup, a food assistance program for HIV positive individuals.

What additional breaks did you take part in? What did you do?
I took my second Alternative Break to the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in Taos, New Mexico.  RMYC was established to provide youth with employment, educational, and recreational opportunities.  We volunteered on an environmental service project, helping at-risk teenagers build bridges in a nature reserve.  We also tutored elementary school children. 

As an Alternative Weekend Break Coordinator, I volunteered at a variety of organizations including the Ashby House, the Douglas County AIDS Project, Women’s Transitional Care Services (now The Willow Domestic Violence Center),  and the Lawrence Humane Society.

What drew you to Alternative Breaks leadership? Is there an AB achievement or milestone from your tenure that stands out to you?
I believe Alternative Breaks is one of the most meaningful, life-changing programs at KU.  I took a leadership role because I wanted continue AB’s mission to foster students’ lifelong commitment to service.

As Alternative Breaks Director, I had the unique opportunity to work with the first staff of the Center for Service Learning to establish long-term sustainability for service learning at KU. 

Since graduation, what have you been up to? How has your AB experience shaped where you are today?
After graduation, I taught high school English in Charlotte, North Carolina with Teach for America.  My Alternative Breaks were invaluable in helping me teach students from diverse and varied backgrounds.  I also volunteered for KU’s Center for Service Learning, working to thoughtfully connect KU students with community organizations. 
I then attended law school to focus on educational rights for youth with disabilities. I served on the Board of Directors for the Stanford Public Interest Law Foundation and worked at non-profits providing legal services to youth and their families. 

Before my first Alternative Break, I could not have imagined how significantly my service experiences would impact my life.  Alternative Breaks fostered a passion for service and connected me with like-minded people, many of whom are still close friends today. As a lawyer, I continue to draw upon my service experiences and learn from the people I met along the way.