List the trips you participated in and leadership roles you held with Alternative Breaks:
2009 ASB Teach for America Philadelphia
2010 ASuB Catalina Island Environmental Leadership Program
2009-2010 PR Co-Coordinator
2010 Summer Breaks Co-Coordinator/Co-Founder
2010-2011 Spring Breaks Co-Coordinator
What are you doing now?
I’m currently in North Carolina getting a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning at the UNC Chapel Hill. I’m also serving as the Editor of the Carolina Planning Journal. This summer I’ll be working in Austin, TX with thinkEAST, a development project that will be creating a low-income, context-oriented, mixed use community in a historically Latino/a East Side of Austin. I’m working with Fusebox Festival, an arts festival organization, a planning consulting firm, and the City of Austin on the project.
What was your first Alternative Breaks experience? What drew you to the program?
My first experience was going to Philadelphia to work in Teach for America classrooms for a week. Heidi Weseloh and Ben Berning were the Spring Breaks Coordinators. I was so impressed with the class and with the trip in general. Some old AB favorites like Tyler Enders, Molly Sailors, and David Wilcox were all on that trip. I learned a lot, got to travel, and definitely knew then that I wanted to become more involved.
Do you have a favorite story or memory from your AB tenure?
So many. I think that my favorite memory is just crowding into the office day after day (12+ people, most of the time) and loving it. I do love thinking about some major achievements like setting up the Endowment account or getting AB recognized as a part of the Core curriculum, but I really loved spending time with Core most!
What’s the craziest thing to happen to you on a break?
We ran out of gas on our way to Philadelphia right outside of Columbia, Missouri. That was pretty crazy. Also: going snorkeling at night off of Catalina was pretty spectacular.
How, if at all, has your experience with AB shaped who you are and what you’re doing today?
I really think that AB has shaped a lot of who I am today (and what I’m doing). There are two different sides to this question: values and skills. In terms of values, AB definitely taught me to get involved in my community and in the nation, to think hard about service and social justice, and to try and get other people involved as well. It also taught me to think about root causes instead of symptoms (language I still use). It led me to my first job out of college, teaching University students at UT-Austin about service-learning and social justice, and certainly led to my choosing City Planning (an applied field with enormous opportunities for activism and justice work) as a career. In terms of skills: AB taught me everything I know about collaboration, organization, design, marketing, and budgeting. It’s so amazing that AB is student-led, because we are able to teach each other so much and learn from each other--we learn to be generalists and not to rely on anyone but ourselves to get things done.
What advice would you give to our next batch of AB participants?
In terms of values: I would say pay attention. If you are critical of a non-profit or leader, think about why they might be limited in a certain area. Is it because they are over-worked and under-funded? Is it because they are only funded to run certain types of programs and not others? Are they addressing the symptom or the root cause? In terms of skills: If your group situation is difficult, why? Is there a bad apple in your group? Is it you? How can you take it upon yourself to intervene? How can you be a better collaborator/group member? I’d say the more responsibility each participant can feel on a personal level, the better off the trip and the program (and the world!) will be.