Here’s What Happens When You Go On an Alternative Break

Editor’s note: Morgan Henson is a junior at Alma College from Norton Shores, Michigan. Through the college’s Center for College and Community Engagement (3CE), she participated in an an Alternative Break in April 2022, in Louisiana and Texas, assisting with cleanup and reconstruction following Hurricane Laura. After coming home, Morgan wrote this reflective essay.

The most important thing that I learned is that it is important to help others because you never know what someone is actually going through. I could not imagine what it would be like living in some of those conditions in Texas, and I felt incredibly blessed to be able to help some families. I went there to make an impact on other lives, which I feel like our group accomplished, but I walked away with so much more than that. Many of those people had an impact on my life, and I want to bring the skills that I learned in Texas back to my local community.

My favorite part of the experience was getting to move a family completely out of their home and into a different one. This family had been experiencing poverty and the hurricanes that happened in Texas destroyed many homes in the area. Our group was able to actually meet the family, and it was so heartwarming to see how grateful they were for the afternoon of help that we provided them. Additionally, I loved getting to spend the week with my peers in a new place while completing community service. I got to build stronger relationships with some of my fellow students at Alma, which is something that I am extremely grateful for.

Local help needed, too

This experience made me realize that there are many people in the Gratiot County community who are seeking help just like many families were in Texas. It’s not the same in the sense of hurricane relief, but creating food baskets and providing other assistance is something that we could be doing here. Since I had this experience in Texas, I feel much more confident in terms of community service. I am reaching out to different local organizations to see how I would be able to help them locally. Going to Texas made me realize that I personally can make a huge difference in others’ lives, and I want to be able to give back to people in my college community.

Benefits for a lifetime

After Alma, I plan on attending the University of Chicago MBA program or law school. When it comes to business, it is very important to learn how to communicate with others. This experience allowed me to meet so many new people and to get to know them on a more personal level. No matter what career path I end up having, I know that I want to work with people and give back to my community and to other communities across the nation. If I ever own a business one day, I would want to follow the triple line business model — looking beyond just the “bottom line” — and implement different ways to give back to others and to the environment within my business. If I attend law school after Alma, I want to make sure that I am always approachable and that my clients as well as other people in the community feel like they can always come to me for assistance regardless if it is legal help or not. I never want to appear to be closed off to others, and I would like to give back to as many people as I possibly can in my future career.

More rewarding than vacation

This was probably one of the best experiences that I have ever had, and I found it much more rewarding than any vacation that I’ve taken. It gave me the opportunity to travel to a new place with some of my college peers, and we truly made an impact on other lives in Texas. Completing the community service felt so rewarding because I know that we were able to help others out in many ways that we don’t even understand. I feel so grateful for Alma College, and this trip shows what Alma is about. I would recommend this experience to any student at Alma, and I would urge every student to take opportunities like this during their time in college.

Getting out of my comfort zone

I completed work in Texas that I never could have imagined myself doing. I got out of my comfort zone on almost every level, and I was facing new challenges every single day of the trip. I am very proud of myself for doing something like this, but more importantly I feel grateful that I was able to have this opportunity at Alma. I want to build on this experience by continuing to give back to others in the community. I don’t want to stop my work just because I am back at college or in my hometown. I want to make an impact on lives around me just like I did in the community of Orange, Texas.