Marshall alternative break scholarship provides for “transformative experience”

October 23, 2015

Western Carolina University alumnus Aaron Marshall says alternative breaks helped shape his undergraduate experience and his future plans. Now, the 2014 Barnhill Civic Trailblazer and former Community Impact Award winner is paying it forward by creating the Marshall Alternative Service Experience Scholarship.

“I was able to step out of my comfort zone and perform acts of direct service away from the typical university setting,” Marshall recalls. “For me, this was an extremely gratifying and transformative experience.”

Marshall attended his first alternative break as a freshman; by graduation, he had been on nine break trips as a participant or leader, and found his passion responding to disasters and working with military veterans through the organization Team Rubicon. Marshall also helped lay the groundwork for a staff position to manage the expanding break program at Western’s Center for Service-Learning.

Wake Tech students re-building in News Orleans on a 2013 alternative break.
Wake Tech students re-building in News Orleans on an alternative break in 2013.

The Marshall Alternative Service Experience (ASE) Scholarship supports the participation of one student in an alternative break program in which the student takes a leadership role. Funding (up to $250) must be used for a program in the current or upcoming academic year. Only Community Impact Award winners may apply, and preference is given to applicants who receive federal financial aid or are active duty military, reserves, veterans or their dependent.

North Carolina Campus Compact administers the scholarship and manages the application and selection process. The first recipient of the new scholarship will announced at the network’s 2015 CSNAP Student Conference, to be held November 7 at UNC Pembroke.

The Compact has supported the development of alternative break programs at member schools in the past, most recently with a 2013 institute on alternative breaks. Our AmeriCorps VISTA members have also supported alternative break programs, with a special emphasis on “staycation” breaks which focus on service in the local community. One of our favorite examples was organized last spring at East Carolina University by then-VISTA Hannah Paek. ECU students spent their nights in the Greenville Community Shelter and their days doing service throughout the city. A student called the experience “humbling, passionate, and empowering.”