Monday, August 06, 2018

Roadrunners to spend spring break giving back to the community

UTSA students, staff will volunteer in San Antonio and Mississippi over spring break.

UTSA students and staff will volunteer in San Antonio and Mississippi over spring break.

(March 8, 2017) -- While many people spend spring break at the beach or on the slopes, dozens of students from The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) will be serving the community. UTSA Volunteer Services is sponsoring two Alternative Spring Break trips: one to help children and a second to clean up the environment.

Fourteen UTSA students and two staff members will travel to Biloxi, Mississippi March 12 through 17. They will work with Community Collaborations International on Gulf Coast eco-system restoration and community service projects.

"We will be working on animal, plant and water restoration," said Brandi Raschke, program coordinator for UTSA Volunteer Services and Engagement. "That will entail things like taking clam shells and moving them to a cleaner space in the water or cleaning up seaweed."

UTSA political science sophomore Mikel Moore is looking forward to learning and growing during the trip.

"I'd like to become more informed on issues facing the environment and the importance of long-term sustainability," said Moore. "Being a volunteer has allowed me to build a connection with the San Antonio community and memorable relationships with the people I work with."

Raschke said the bond these Roadrunners will form by being together for an entire week is just as important as the volunteer work.

"It's an amazing experience for them to grow as individuals," Raschke said. "They feel compelled to keep volunteering. They learn new interests and how they can contribute to making a difference."

At the end of each day, the students will gather for a reflection time – discussing the purpose of the work they're doing.

"What are we getting from it? What is the environment getting from it? Dissecting our days so we realize what we're doing is bigger than we are," said Raschke.

Another group of Roadrunners will stay closer to home, volunteering at the San Antonio Children's Shelter. The students will play games and other activities with the children to simply be a friend.

"I'm very excited to remind the children that they matter and that they can accomplish whatever they put their minds to," said Aaliyah Maura, UTSA psychology junior from Houston. "Volunteering also helps me as a student. It gives me a sense of gratitude and appreciation for what I have and where I am in life."

In addition to building pride and a sense of accomplishment, Raschke said volunteering helps students when they graduate and go out into the job force. To a prospective employer, volunteering shows that UTSA students know how to work as a team. It also demonstrates that they want to go above and beyond by taking on new challenges, helping others and contributing to society.

UTSA also offers Alternative Winter Break trips in addition to daylong volunteer opportunities.

- Courtney Clevenger


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