From the ground up: alternative spring break trip

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It all started with a slab of concrete and a group of determined, hard-working students. While some chose to stay home for spring break, others chose to lend a hand to those in need. Maryville University offers several alternative spring break trips, but the students on the Pensacola Habitat for Humanity trip made it memorable.

Maryville has offered the Habitat for Humanity Alternative Spring Break trip since 1993. To Kathy Quinn, the dean of students, the trip is packed with value and serves as an important experience for the students who attend.

“It exposes students to experiences they may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience. They build a house and while doing so develop skills in leadership, teamwork and carpentry. They build life-long friendships and memories.We hear from students that the trip is life-changing and transformative,” said Quinn. “Students are challenged to step outside of their comfort zone, broaden their perspectives and have a new appreciation for what they have. In short, they are part of something bigger than themselves.”

Students began to build the home for a family in need Tuesday, March 12. Starting with a slab of concrete, students were able to frame the whole house and start the roofing process in just four days.

For Michelle Schmidt, a third-year physical therapy student, it was her second time attending the Habitat for Humanity trip.

“There were several amazing aspects of the trip, but one of the most fun parts was forming the friendships with fellow students that I hadn’t known previously,” said Schmidt. “With many of them, I don’t know if our paths would have crossed, but with the Habitat trip, I was able to get close to each of them. I would definitely do it again, and I would recommend anyone who is thinking of going to sign up.”

Students on the Habitat for Humanity Alternative Spring Break trip. Photo Courtesy of Michelle Schmidt.

To Thalia Ruiz, a second-year student, bonding with the group of students played a crucial role in a successful trip.

“When I look back at all the memories and photographs taken, I would say that the people made this trip fun. There were fourteen students plus Kathy Quinn and Nurse Pam. From the car ride there to random morning dance parties, there was always music and laughter,” said Ruiz.

Aaron Buettner, a student of physical therapy, was a student leader on the trip and has attended for the past five years.

“I wanted to be the student leader of this trip to help make sure that those participating enjoyed it as much as I have over the past four years. There is typically a lot of nervousness in the room at our first meeting and during the van ride down,” said Buettner. “To me, these times are the most important to break the ice and so I tried to be high energy and make sure everyone was bonding in some way. A few of the other members on this trip had gone in previous years as well and that was super helpful.”

The Habitat for Humanity Alternative Spring Break trip allows students to lend a hand to those in need, while also making memories that will last a lifetime. The application process begins in November; make sure to keep an eye out for more information in places like the Involvement Fair and on the Maryville MyCommunity portal.

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