Growth and learning through service: Students to volunteer through Alternative Spring Break program

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From San Francisco to Florida to Glassboro to Camden, 19 Rowan University undergraduate students will volunteer their time on three different service projects during Alternative Spring Break 2011.

From San Francisco to Florida to Glassboro to Camden, 19 Rowan University undergraduate students will volunteer their time on three different service projects during Alternative Spring Break 2011.

From March 13-19, the students will assist the HIV/AIDS community in San Francisco, work on a Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration project in Pensacola, Fla., and volunteer on a host of local outreach projects in Glassboro and Camden.

Presented by Rowan's Office of Service Learning, Volunteerism and Community Engagement (SLVCE), the Alternative Spring Break program offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves in volunteer experiences that expose them to different settings and cultures.

The varied experiences they share as they complete short-term projects help expose students to issues such as poverty, educational and cultural literacy, racism, hunger, the environment, homelessness and health-related issues, according to Andrew Perrone, assistant director of SLVCE.

Student leaders worked to plan each ASB trip, Perrone says. All of the student leaders have participated in SLVCE service project in the past, he says.

"With each of the trips, the students chose issues they wanted to address," says Perrone, who notes that each trip boasts a group of students with diverse majors.

"We don't just have biological science majors on the Florida trip or sociology majors on the San Francisco trip," he continues. "Students view the trips as opportunities for them to get involved in an issue that is important to them.

"They're not necessarily thinking, ‘This will help me build my resume.' They're more interested in addressing the issues and serving populations related to the trips."

Here's a breakdown of each trip:

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration

In Pensacola, students will work with Community Collaborations International on a variety of environmental projects that are designed to build an understanding of coastal ecosystems and watersheds. Students also will gain an understanding of how ecosystems and watersheds are affected by manmade and natural disasters. Additional community-based projects are designed to serve families and individuals who have been impacted economically, according to Perrone.

Jayne Dzuback, a junior English and secondary education major from Fanwood, is the student leader of the group. Dzuback went on last year's ASB trip to the Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro, N.C., and decided this year to take an ASB leadership role this year, according to Perrone.

Kelvin Rodriguez, a Rowan graduate student from Danbury, Conn. who works in Rowan's Division of Student Life and the Office of Greek Affairs, is the faculty/staff/graduate adviser.

Other students on the trip include: Anna Amoroso, a senior biological science major from Sewell; Sarah Clark, a freshman English and secondary education major from Edison; Brielle Greco, a junior biological science major from Hackettstown; and Amanda Irish, a sophomore biological science major from Ocean.

HIV/AIDS Education

Students will work with two different agencies-Project Open Hand and the San Francisco Food Bank--that support the HIV/AIDS community in differing ways. Project Open Hand meets community nutrition needs for people living with HIV/AIDS. The Food Bank provides food and support to more than 400 non-profit organizations in the San Francisco area.

Riverdale's Courtney Mackey, a senior health promotion and fitness management major who also is in the Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors program, is the student leader of the group. Last year, Mackey went on the ASB trip Gainesville, Fla. to work in the Shands Arts in Medicine program.

Latoya Langston of Pine Hill, a graduate student in counseling in educational settings, is the faculty/staff/graduate adviser.

Other students on the trip include: Krista Forni, a sophomore journalism major from Fords; Alexandra Garber, a senior sociology major from Fanwood; Jessica Healey, a sophomore biological science major from Turnersville; Sarah O'Mara, a sophomore exploratory studies major from Haddonfield; Katya Palsi, a junior art and advertising and public relations major from Brielle; and Kimberley Sterner, a sophomore public relations major from Oak Ridge.

Local Outreach

In projects ranging from working with community children to volunteering at the South Jersey Food Bank to completing outdoor environmental projects, students will do service work both in the Borough of Glassboro and in the City of Camden.

Courtney VanLeuvan, a freshman psychology major from Toms River, will lead the group. VanLeuvan was involved in the Freshman Connection program this year, during which first-year students got involved in local service projects the week before classes began.

Perrone will serve as a faulty/staff/graduate adviser.

Other involved in this ASB project include: Amanda Branda, a sophomore biochemistry major and Honors student from Williamstown; Natalie Jengo, a sophomore psychology major from Jersey City; Anne LaVergne, a sophomore English and secondary education major from Delanco; Emily Scharen, a freshman psychology and law and justice studies major from Belford; and Alex Henderson, a sophomore biological science major from Erial.


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