Alma College Alternative Breaks are known for providing opportunities for students to engage in direct, hands-on service, education and reflection.
In the case of Hunter Wilson, an Alternative Break provided her new best friend.
Hunter, who graduated from Alma in 2020, currently works for the college as a Climate Corps program planning grant employee, where she helps students and community members learn about climate change and its effects on the Gratiot County area. In December 2021, she accompanied a group of students to Horse Creek Wildlife Sanctuary and Animal Refuge, in Tennessee, which provides medical care for and houses abandoned and abused dogs.
Hunter worked with a group of about 12 Alma College students to aid in the sanctuary’s mission — practicing social skills and behavioral skills with the dogs, as well as a bit of maintenance and cleaning. She also met Layne, a 5-month-old mutt with a heart of gold.
Unable to get Layne out of her head upon returning to Michigan, Hunter went back to Horse Creek in January to adopt Layne. Now, they’re living happily ever after.
“Layne was one of the girls in a litter of seven or so,” Hunter said. “Her mom was taken to the rescue after being found abandoned under a highway overpass. They believe she was there for weeks before she was found and gave birth at the rescue.
“Layne is 100-percent deaf,” Hunter continued. “While I was at Horse Creek, one of the employees told me that she would probably never be adopted because of that. When they told me that, I knew I had to take her home with me.”
Layne is doing great in Michigan, Hunter said, being kept busy with obedience school, at-home training and lots of snuggling. Layne has two pet siblings; a dog, Winston, and a cat, Mittens, both of whom she gets along with wonderfully.
Hunter’s Alternative Break to Horse Creek was actually the second time she had been there. She went once before, as a junior at Alma, and loved it so much she could hardly wait to go back. She intends to volunteer there again when time allows.
Hunter said she would recommend Alternative Breaks to any student at Alma.
“I participated in three Alternative Breaks during my time at Alma. It was so much fun. I was able to make so many connections, not just personally, but professionally,” Hunter said.
“It’s a great opportunity to think about what you really want to do,” she continued. “I think sometimes, students get a little too submerged in academia. We forget about our other passions and how to get things done. Alternative Breaks help fill that gap — working on cool projects, in cool places, and seeing success happen in real time.”
Alternative Breaks allow students to spend time doing service work while traveling outside the community. This may involve providing childcare in a homeless shelter or being involved in disaster relief efforts. Whatever you’re doing, you’ll have fun while reflecting on what is important to you in life.