Thanks to the work of Joenique Rose, the USC Volunteer Center is sending more than 150 students to 10 domestic and international sites for an Alternative Spring Break week of service, culture and memories.
Rose, program director of alternative breaks and community partners, oversees the student coordinators who help plan the trips, creates budget lists and itinerary ideas, and communicates with travel agencies and site hosts. This year’s destinations include Guatemala, Honduras, Isla Mujeres, Orcas Island, Appalachia, Baltimore, Death Valley, Salinas, San Francisco and Navajo Nation.
“When I was a student at the University of South Florida, I attended two Alternative Spring Break trips and loved it,” Rose said. “When I came to USC to get my master’s in education through the Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs program, I really wanted to get involved with these trips again through the Volunteer Center. It’s given me a chance to see how the trips come together from the other side.”
In fall 2008, Rose began to help organize the trips as a graduate assistant and has seen tremendous growth through the years.
“When I first started, we had five domestic trips and now that number has already reached seven,” Rose said. “The growth speaks to the students’ willingness to sacrifice their spring breaks for a trip that is truly alternative. It shows that not only the students, but the university as well, embrace rare service opportunities like these.”
While she does admit things can get a bit stressful in the weeks leading up to spring break, Rose prides herself on being a model of serenity.
“I try not to seem overwhelmed in the weeks before spring break because I would hate for that to rub off on the students who work tremendously hard on these trips for their peers,” she said. “When they come into the Volunteer Center, I want them to be relaxed. The best way for me to help with that is to stay calm at all times.”
In addition to organizing the trips, Rose also has expanded the Volunteer Center’s relationship with community organizations around Los Angeles. Since taking over her current post in 2011, Friends and Neighbors Day – USC’s day of service for students, faculty and members of the surrounding neighborhood – has gone from a bisemester event to a once-a-month activity.
“Joenique is truly passionate about serving the community,” said Judi Biggs Garbuio, associate dean of students. “She has incorporated her experience with alternative breaks at another institution to make ours much stronger. And she has also continued to nurture our relationship with our community partners by enhancing our community database, which provided them with an avenue to upload all of their volunteer needs electronically.”
Though Rose and her student leaders put in long hours, she always stays focused on the end product.
“The best part is hearing the stories when all the students come back,” she said. “Seeing the smiles on their faces as they talk about their experiences makes everything worthwhile.”
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