Before COVID-19, ASB Leaders were ready to travel

Taylor Viles1851 Staff

Every year, around 35 lucky members of the Lasell community are chosen to participate in Alternative Spring Break (ASB), a program that lets students give back to different communities around the country. “I feel like community service as a whole…is both a selfish and selfless act, to give up your time to volunteer or give back to those in need,” said junior ASB Leader Jasmine Williams. “It’s just an experience for you to learn more about yourself, to humble yourself and also just to meet people that you would not normally meet.”

For the first time in ASB history (about 20 years), the trips have been canceled. The reason? COVID-19. The virus has ruined many spring trips and effectively canceled the second half of the spring semester on campus. “I’m pretty sure half the campus saw me bawl my eyes out in the dining hall,” said senior ASB Leader Mindy Esposito, upon learning of the unprecedented cancelation. “The leaders and [Byrd Hughes] have been putting in work for this trip since May of last year when we got accepted into the leadership position.”

There are six ASB leaders, some of whom, this would have been their last opportunity to be a part of an ASB trip, let alone lead one. 

Mindy Esposito Senior, Early Childhood Education Major

“I’ve been doing ASB since my freshman year,” said Esposito. She explained she got involved because one of her field hockey teammates was leading a trip to Baltimore. “I was always somebody that wanted to keep busy, but didn’t really have anything to do [at first],” she said. Participants of the first trip she went on encouraged her to become a leader, which she eventually did. “I was a leader in high school. So I guess at some point I envisioned I would be a leader on campus,” said Esposito.  ll

Ashaad Tillman Junior, Secondary Education Major concentrating in Mathematics

Tillman didn’t go on an ASB trip until his sophomore year. “One of my friends was a leader on the trip last year,” said Tillman. “She invited me and encouraged me to go.” He fell in love with the experience and applied to be a leader this year. “There is a lot of education involved,” he said. “There’s a lot that you learn, personally that you can grow from.” Along with Esposito, they were going to work with a group of men and women to help with maintenance of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. 

AnnaMarie Seiler Senior, Psychology and English Double-Major

Seiler is a transfer from Mount Ida College and said as soon as she got to campus in her junior year, “I immediately connected with a lot of people on campus who were already really engaged in [ASB],” she said. She enjoyed her first trip so much, it was an easy decision for her to apply for a leadership role this year. “So many aspects of the trip have stuck with me and I feel like it really became a part of my life[‘s] physical molding,” said Seiler. She’s also used to taking natural leadership roles in her life and ASB was no exception. “I get to help guide friends in a way that is very emotionally and spiritually charged,” she said. This year, Seiler, along with Williams, was planning to lead a trip to Chicago to do a wide variety of community service.

Jasmine Williams Junior, Early Childhood Education Major

Williams heard about ASB as a first-year and as soon as her roommate went on a trip and raved about it, Williams decided it was right for her. “When I was in high school, I was very active in doing volunteer work and giving back to my community at home,” she said. When I initially signed up for ASB, I didn’t think that I was going to be a leader,” said Williams. “I just wanted to do it because I love doing service work.” It was on last year’s trip to Idaho when Williams and Seiler decided they wanted to apply together. “Because we made such a strong bond on our trip, we pushed each other to go out of our comfort zone [and apply],” said Williams. 

Alyssa Butkiewicz Senior, Fashion Communication Major

Butkiewicz wasn’t introduced to ASB until her junior year when classmate Hayden Wheeler told her to apply. “I absolutely fell in love with the program and everything that ASB stands for,” said Butkiewicz. “That’s what drove me to apply for the leadership position [this year].” Becoming a leader is something that Butkiewicz didn’t expect from herself during her Lasell career. “It’s wild because I am a pretty shy and introverted person ‘til you really get to know me,” she said. “That goes to show how much the program really brought me out of my shell and I really saw the value in giving back.” The trip she was planning on leading this year was with Wheeler to North Carolina to help rebuild homes in lower-income areas that were hit by recent hurricanes.

Hayden Wheeler Senior, Elementary Education Major

This would have been Wheeler’s third ASB trip and second as a leader. Looking for a path during sophomore year, she was put on to ASB through one of her friends. “I was just an awkward sophomore,” said Wheeler. She applied and went on her first trip and soon realized “it was one of the most life-changing experiences in [her] life.” Last year, she led her first trip to Texas and decided to be a leader again this year. Wheeler is also a huge advocate for getting new people to participate in ASB. “I’ve learned so many different values and just how to be a respectful human in a community,” she said.

Just because the trips were canceled this year, doesn’t mean they won’t be up and running again next spring. “ASB means community. That’s the best word to describe it,” said Wheeler. “Everybody who is involved with ASB is coming together…under the same goal of just making the world a better place and making each other better people along the way.”

(L-R) Ashaad Tillman, Mindy Esposito, Jasmine Williams, Annamarie Seiler, Hayden Wheeler, and Alyssa Butkiewicz as they were preparing to take on their Alternative Spring Break trips.

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