Alternative Spring Breaks are a growing trend at UConn, and our campus ranks fourth in the nation for students who participate in the trips. I was one of 350 students who went on 16 Community Outreach trips this year that focused on such diverse topics as homelessness, HIV/AIDS awareness and advocacy, coastal environment preservation, rural poverty, urban poverty, civil rights, and public health.
I chose to go on a Mystery Trip this year, so I knew the topic would be rural poverty, but found out at the last minute our destination would be West Virginia. Fifty-one students from the Storrs and Stamford campuses traveled there to work with the Southern Appalachian Labor School (SALS) on substantial rehabilitations of homes for low-income families in Fayette County. I was inspired to see firsthand the beauty of what a community can do when it comes together to address an issue, such as poverty. The people there rely on one another, their faith, and organizations like SALS to educate themselves both academically and skillwise so that they can obtain food, housing, and jobs to support their families. Everyone deserves to have these basic needs met, and I’ve been inspired by my Alt Break experiences to use my education — a double major in Psychological Science and in Human Development and Family Studies — to help my own community. Whether as a school guidance counselor or a direct social worker, I plan to continue my passion for service.
—Crystal Mastrangelo ’17 (CLAS)