Rollins Leads the Pack in Alternative Breaks

October 10, 2019

By Stephanie Rizzo ’09

Students tilling the soil during an Immersion experience in Gainesville, Florida.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Rollins has once again ranked No. 1 in the nation for highest percentage of students who participate in alternative breaks.

Break Away, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting quality alternative break programs, has ranked Rollins No. 1 for highest percentage of students who participate in alternative breaks, according to the organization’s 2018-2019 National Chapter Survey. This marks the seventh consecutive year that Rollins has ranked in the top five in this category and the sixth year the College has taken the top spot.

Additionally, this is the first year Rollins has been recognized as a top 10 institution based on program size, with a total of 411 students participating in more than 30 alternative break opportunities throughout the year. Other schools in this category include Ohio State University, University of Notre Dame, Central Michigan University, and the University of Delaware—institutions roughly five to 10 times the size of Rollins.

With more than 200 chapters on college campuses across the nation, Break Away offers training and assistance related to service learning—one of the core tenets of a Rollins education. The College organizes alternative breaks through the Immersion: Citizens Take Action program. Last year, student volunteers contributed more than 4,200 service hours working with more than 45 community organizations and nonprofits. These service opportunities focused on a wide array of social issues, including immigration, homelessness, civil rights and social justice, environmental protection, poverty, and relief efforts.

While some Immersions are locally based, others offer students a chance to make a difference in communities beyond Central Florida. During the 2018-2019 academic year, Rollins students produced theater with middle-schoolers in Boston, partnered with food banks in Savannah, Georgia, supported the Boys & Girls Club in Washington, D.C., and worked to mitigate threats to native habitats in Moab, Utah.

“Students come back from these experiences with a new perspective on the world and often report a reinvigorated commitment to their communities,” says Courtney Howell, assistant director for Rollins’ Center for Leadership & Community Engagement. “Our community partners share their stories with the students, who often support the partner with projects that they might not be able to complete otherwise.”

More than 13 percent of Rollins students participated in alternative breaks during the 2018-19 academic year.

For more information about Immersion and upcoming opportunities to participate in service learning projects, visit the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement.

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