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BW alternative breaks encourage student advocacy for social justice issues

During each break at Baldwin Wallace, student-led service groups travel and contribute volunteer work and advocacy for various social justice issues in communities experiencing adversity.

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On each trip, called "Alternative Breaks," students can expect to experience service work, travel, connection-building and the development of new skills. The David and Frances Brain Center for Community Engagement upholds this tradition each school year.

In early March, Sarah Pounder, a sophomore double major in psychology and sociology, will lead the spring break trip "Learning from the Past, For a Better Future." The trip is one of two being offered. Its goal is to explore the efforts of past civil rights activists as well as inspire a new generation to continue to fight for their rights and make an impact.

In December, Pounder led a trip over winter break to Kentucky that was built around the idea of wanting to give back to women's shelters and a community that is striving to build up women after getting hit with the overturning of Roe v. Wade last June.

Advocacy was also embedded in another winter break trip led by public health major Madina Mahmoud '23. That trip, located in Chicago, focused on the policies that directly affect youth and the social services that aim to help them.

A Summer of Service

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Social justice and service continue year-round. Three trips are scheduled for the summer. Among them is one being co-led by public health juniors Manav Patel and Mehraeel Saleh that will connect students with public health professionals and provide service aimed at assisting vulnerable populations.

In May, a student group will participate in a program called "Equitable Queer Communities in America: Creating Change to Enhance their Future." Under the leadership of Sole Hall-Hamilton, a senior education and English double major, the service opportunity is focused on the policies and policy recommendations directly impacting LGBTQ individuals across the country.

The third summer opportunity looks at poverty. It is under the co-leadership of Cory Dulemba, a senior national security and criminal justice double major, and Manimone Sengvoravong, a junior neuroscience major. The program will dive into the experiences of individuals who have experienced poverty firsthand and allow BW student participants to reflect on these hardships and extend service.

Senior exercise science major Jill Wood, the student director of alternative break trips, believes Alternative Breaks are an important part of college because of the learning opportunities they offer as well as personal growth.

"Alternative Breaks are a time for students to gather and do hands-on experience in a community. It is a time for reflection, growth and, of course, service. I believe all students and faculty should experience an alternative break trip, as it is truly life changing," she said.

This article was originally published in The Exponent, an online and print news source operated by Baldwin Wallace students. It has been edited and shortened with permission from the writer.

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