Alternative Spring Break Experience more popular than ever


Every year, St. Edward’s University Campus Ministry’s Service Break Experience program provides opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to practice their faith through service to communities around the world.

Every year, St. Edward’s University’s Service Break Experience program sponsored by Cmpus Ministry provides opportunities for students, faculty and staff to practice their faith through service to communities around the world.

The program is rooted in the four pillars of building community, doing justice, living simply and engaging spiritually.

Students accepted into the program were just assigned their groups and locations. Students selected for ASB will go to one of ten domestic sights during their spring break.

When Lisa Manjarrez, assistant director of Campus Ministry, began working at St. Edward’s in 2008, she was hired to oversee service and justice as part of Campus Ministry. Before she came to St. Edward’s, the various service break experiences were all separated. Therefore, her first step was to combine all the various service programs, including Alternative Spring Break and International Immersion Experience.

In the last five years, both the number of SBE sites and number of members in each group have doubled. The number of applicants has grown so much that Manjarrez says this year she had to turn down one third of the applicants because there are not enough spots.

This year, ASB has sites coast-to-coast. The Apache Awareness in Whiteriver, Arizona was the most popular ASB site, with 42 students listing it as their first choice.

Megan Bennett, freshman, is one of 12 students who is going to Apache Awareness this year.

“I’m looking forward to learning about (the indigenous people’s) culture and seeing how they live in today’s society,” Bennett said.

To prepare for their SBE, students participate in a day of service in the fall with their respective groups. The groups partner with local organizations that have a similar social justice cause to the service the students will be doing during their SBE.

Manjarrez said the fall is mostly focused on the pillar of community building. In the spring, however, groups meet once a week to prepare for their trip. If students are participating in ASB, they attend a “what now?” meeting when they return. Manjarrez said students come up with ways to honor their experience during this meeting. She says that in the past students have done anything from pledging to appreciate nature more to completely changing their major and career goals. . 

According to Manjarrez, the SBE program has seen much change in the last few years with a shift to student leadership. She believes that this is important since the university emphasizes student leadership and preparing students for leadership.

Audrey Eads, junior, will be leading the Hurricane Katrina Relief group to Biloxi, Miss. this spring break. The group will be working with Habitat for Humanity to help with rebuilding efforts. This is Eads’ third time participating in an SBE, but her first time leading one.

“I guess what I am nervous about is that I don’t really know exactly what’s going to happen. You know the experiences from before, but you don’t know if something’s going to change, or if an emergency is going to happen,” Eads said.

To keep the cost as low as possible, SBE participants fundraise money through the fall and spring semester.