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Alternative Spring Breakers Make a Difference in Nashville

student with cat

Christopher Drexel worked at a veterinarian clinic for six years when he was younger. So when the general studies major at Howard Community College (HCC) saw signs on campus for an alternative spring break at the Nashville Humane Association (NHA), he quickly put in an application to participate.

Christopher, who graduates this month and will next attend St. Mary’s College of Maryland, was one of nine HCC students who traveled to Nashville, Tennessee from March 28 to April 1 to volunteer at the NHA, one of the oldest non-profit organizations in the city.

During the week, the students assisted with a variety of animal care, animal training, community outreach, and event development tasks in support of several NHA programs. The students also spent time training a group of high-energy dogs recently rescued from the floods in Mississippi.

Christopher said he worked with many high-energy, larger dogs that needed basic training so they could later be adopted.

“I spent a lot of time leash training,” he said. “Some of the dogs already had leash training, but in that environment, it goes out the window.”

Briana Pervaiz, a student in HCC’s EMT program, likes dogs, but preferred snuggling up with the shelter’s cats.

Throughout the week, Briana was often found warming up to cats in the socialization room. But she didn’t only stick to felines. One little mixed-breed pooch – with orange fur and different colored eyes – needed extra socialization and was very nervous. Her name was Hilly and she was very popular amongst the Alternative Spring Break participants, including Briana.

The trip to Nashville was HCC’s 23rd alternative break, dating back to spring of 2005, according to Director of Service Learning Brittany Budden, who served as one of two advisors on the trip. Fellow animal advocate and colleague, Katrina Bowers from the Planning, Research and Organizational Development office acted as the second advisor.

Budden said she loved this trip in particular because she completed her undergraduate degree in Nashville and knows the city well.

“I love exposing our students to the culture of service that is embedded in the Nashville community,” she said.

Alternative break trips provide students the opportunity to travel to different communities and engage in direct service to benefit their host community.

Through service learning courses, Briana said she has learned about Howard County and surrounding areas. But she  wanted to expand on her experiences.

“[Alternative break] helps you do something meaningful,” she said. “I feel like I got a meaningful experience because I got to help them [NHA]. They always need help. It’s a huge facility with a small staff.”

Christopher said the trip set the tone for future breaks. During previous breaks from school, he would rest and relax so he could be energized when school started back up.

“I realized this was just as refreshing and way more fulfilling,” he said. “I came back really ready to go.”

Briana returned with the same takeaway.

“You expect to feel tired after you get back, but you actually feel really energized,” she said. “You’ve gotten a lot out of it and they [NHA] did too.”

Pictures from the trip can be viewed online at:

Topics: Campus Life
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