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Students give back during fall alternative breaks. Deadline for spring break trips is Nov. 27.

By Jennifer Jones, communications director, Lowell Bennion Community Service Center

“I really don’t know where I would be in my college career without Alt Breaks.”

Sam Tse is passionate about the program. As a freshman, she signed up for an Alternative Break trip to Seattle to learn about homelessness. “I had a very abstract understanding of the issue,” she recalls. “Going on that trip really opened my eyes to a lot of things I had never heard about and specifically about vulnerable youth populations as well. It gave me a lot of direction.”

Sam combined what she learned on the trip with her passion for helping vulnerable youth to become a psychology major. Now in her fourth year, Sam will be a site leader this spring on a trip she planned with the theme, School-to-Prison Pipeline.

Sam’s trip is one of two weekend trips and 12 spring break trips offered through the Bennion Center’s Alternative Breaks program. Applications are due Nov. 27 for students interested in spring 2018 trips with themes like homelessness, community health, HIV/AIDS, women in poverty, urban environmentalism, immigration, marine conservation and hunger and food justice.

Laura Scwartz is the Alternative Breaks program director. She says an alternative break is a way for students to bridge all the critical thinking, collaboration and research skills they learn in the classroom with the real world “and meet new people and be team-oriented in that process.” Trip costs range from $50 for weekend trips to between $415 and $615 for the weeklong breaks. She says the trips can be transformative.

Student post-trip reflections included comments like, “I’m so glad that I have personal experience to share with others on immigration.” “I’m pre-vet so the trip was perfect! I learned so much more about the field that I am going into.” “Loved this trip! Life changing!”

To apply for an alternative break, visit