Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UTSA students give back to communities through spring break program

UTSA students give back to communities through spring break program

UTSA students from various majors came together last week to volunteer during their spring vacation through the university’s Alternative Break Program. Volunteers assisted several nonprofit agencies, including this team in assisting Camp Restore in New Orleans.

MARCH 23, 2022 — UTSA students from various majors came together last week to volunteer during their spring vacation through the university’s Alternative Break Program. Volunteers assisted nonprofit agencies in San Antonio, Dallas and New Orleans. The groups, including 29 students and six professional staff members, provided support for important topics such as hurricane restoration, food insecurity, HIV/AIDS awareness, affordable housing and LGBTQIA+ rights and advocacy.

One of several programs sponsored by UTSA Leadership and Volunteer Services, the Alternative Break Program empowers and challenges students to understand their relationship with the communities across the globe through education, reflection and direct service during week-long trips over the break.

Alternative Break student leaders go through facilitation training during the fall semester and choose their service locations. They select social issues to focus on and identify service organizations to support. Two student leaders coordinate each experience including trip logistics and lead pre-trip meetings, service activities and reflections.



UTSA students volunteering in New Orleans focused on hurricane cleanup through Camp Restore.



In New Orleans, volunteers focused on hurricane cleanup through Camp Restore, which focuses on environmental restoration and sustainability.

“Conversations with locals sit with me for a long time,” said Keilyn Richardson, a trip leader on the New Orleans experience. “And with each meaningful experience, I try to wedge that into my future and figure out what I can do.”

The Dallas volunteer group supported City Square, which provides advocacy and support for impoverished communities in the greater Dallas area. Among its programs are several affordable-housing initiatives and health care programs that focus on issues such as HIV awareness.

“I chose the alternative break program because I wanted to challenge myself by being immersed in a different environment, as well as understand social issues at a deeper level,” said Perla Ramirez, who served as a participant on the Dallas trip. “My favorite part of this trip is meeting new people and getting to learn from them.”



UTSA students volunteering in Dallas supported City Square.



Acknowledging the importance of serving underrepresented communities, the San Antonio team provided support to the Pride Center, San Antonio Food Bank, Thrive Center and LGBTQ Choir.  

“At first, I thought it would be just a fun experience for volunteering and to connect with the LGBTQIA+ community. That is exactly what it is,” said Annu Chemata Venkata, a participant of the San Antonio experience group. “I got to meet so many incredible people in the community. I was able to find my connection to the community which I hadn't before. It was a lot of fun.”

UTSA Leadership and Volunteer Services offers both spring and winter Alternative Break trips in addition to day-long volunteer opportunities. Alternative Break trip leader applications for the 2022–2023 academic year will open in May for students looking to take a leadership role in next year’s experiences.

Jessica Dawson



UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu.


UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.