Natalie Parker

List the trips you participated in and leadership roles you held with Alternative Breaks:

PR Co-Coordinator - 2013-14 and Fall 2015. 
Summer 2012: LGBT Center of Charlotte
Spring 2013: 826 Chicago (Site Leader)
Summer 2013: Thrive DC (Site Leader)
Summer 2014: Homeboy Industries (Site Leader)

What are you doing now?: 

I'm getting my Master's in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania with the hope of affecting policy change on the city, state or national level. Through my four week-long Alternative Breaks, I learned that public service is my passion – I just had to find a way to make it my career!

I used Alternative Breaks to explore four issue areas – LGBTQ, education, homelessness and gang rehabilitation – and while I was excited to learn about all of them, I didn't find my passion in just one. With a Master's, I hope to impact change in many communities on a broad scale.

Do you have a favorite story or memory from your AB tenure?: 

More than anything else, I've enjoyed meeting new people – I connected with 27 amazing friends over the course of my breaks and even more as a part of Core. I so value the time I got to witness how these unique and brilliant individuals reacted to situations while volunteering. Their takeaways and what they've then decided to do with their experiences are why I wanted to stay a part of Alternative Breaks during my undergraduate career.

How, if at all, has your experience with AB shaped who you are and what you’re doing today?:

I struggled with what I wanted to do post-graduation throughout college. I seemed resolute on the outside, but had my doubts about what I was headed toward. What I did know was that I possessed a set of traits – loving to work with people, leading groups & being hungry for knowledge. My experiences with Alternative Breaks showed me that all I had to do was embrace these facets and grow with them. 

My understanding of public service evolved with each experience as I better understood the importance of administrators working to solve complex societal problems in four important fields: health, housing, education and criminal justice. The lessons I learned by serving these diverse populations allow me to understand that to which I have decided to dedicate my career and life: improving systems that affect people’s pathways to prosperity. Thus, I followed in the footsteps of one of my closest mentors and friends – 2013-14 Alternative Breaks Co-Director Hannah Sitz and will be getting a Master's Degree in Public Administration. Public Service for life!