Students plan to volunteer, reconnect, recharge during fall break

From left: students Jazmine Evans, Benji Manishimwe, Donatella Rideick, and Alex Douma. Photos: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami
By Ashley A. Williams and Jenny Hudak

From left: students Jazmine Evans, Benji Manishimwe, Donatella Rideick, and Alex Douma. Photos: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami

Students plan to volunteer, reconnect, recharge during fall break

By Ashley A. Williams and Jenny Hudak
The University’s fall break runs from Thursday, Oct. 14 through Sunday, Oct. 17. While some students will be performing community service with the Alternative Breaks program, others will be using their time off to travel, visit with friends and family, and unwind as they reach the halfway point of the semester.

Who doesn't look forward to an extended weekend and a break from their everyday school or work routine? From Thursday, Oct. 14 through Sunday, Oct. 17., University of Miami students and faculty will be able to put lectures, lab work, and online meetings aside as they engage in activities that include community service, wellness practices, thrilling adventures, and visiting family and friends.  

While many students will take the long weekend to unwind, several will use their days off to engage in local community service. Alternative Breaks is a student-run program that connects students with community service opportunities during their fall and spring breaks. 

The immersive service experience is a chance for students to learn about and get involved in social issues within the community while serving alongside community partners. 

Lindsey Woods, assistant director of the Butler Center for Service and Leadership within the Division of Student Affairs, is the advisor of Alternative Breaks. In her role, she supports the Alternative Breaks student leaders in the planning and organizations of the students’ trips

“Alternative Breaks tends to be one of the most transformational community-service experiences a student can participate in during their time here at the University,” said Woods. “We’ve had students come back time and time again and say that they want to change their major now or they want to join a student organization that has a service component to their mission. Because they come back changed and a different person from the experiences that they had on the Alternative Breaks trip.” 

During fall break, one Alternative Breaks group will be traveling to Tavernier, Florida, where it will be working with the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center to learn more about wildlife conservation and rescue. Another group will have the opportunity to volunteer at Treasure Coast Food Bank and United Against Poverty in Fort Pierce, Florida, while a third will be working with Blowing Rocks Preserve in Hobe Sound, Florida.  

Spring applications will be available on Engage in early January, and students will have the opportunity to explore beyond Florida during the Alternative Breaks spring break trips. 

While participants of the program will have the opportunity to travel to different locations throughout Florida to make a change in social justice issues including poverty and food insecurity, wildlife conservation and rescue, and nature restoration, the following list outlines what other University of Miami students will be doing during the upcoming break.

Donatella Rideick, a sophomore from Texas studying biochemistry, will be spending her time traveling and reconnecting with family she hasn't seen in a while. 

Donatella Rideick“For fall break I’m heading to Orlando to visit my family and go to Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights. It should be really funny because I’m a really jumpy person. I also can't wait to see my family that lives in Orlando. We’re planning to go to my little cousin's high school football game too.” 


Benji Manishimwe, a senior from Atlanta majoring in mechanical engineering, will be resting and relaxing this fall break. 

Benji Manishimwe“Honestly, I want this weekend to be the first weekend that I’m not going out. I want to get as much sleep as I can. Fall break will be spent taking it easy. My friends have asked me to go out already but I’m trying to say ‘no.’ I may do some studying Thursday and Friday but Saturday and Sunday, I want to do nothing.”  


Rachel Alonzo from Pembroke Pines is studying music education. 

Rachel Alonzo“This fall break I will be visiting my best friend in Orlando, and we will be going to Disney World. I got us a park hopper ticket and we’ll be starting at Hollywood Studios. I haven't seen her since summer. The food and drinks at Disney are always great; but honestly, I’m just looking forward to spending time with my best friend.” 


Jazmine Evans, a senior from Virginia studying marine science, will be using her days off to visit her friend who attends college in her home state. 

Jazmine Evans“She and I have been best friends for 15 years now, so it’ll be great to see her,” Evans said. Her October trip to Virginia is a tradition, she added. “I like to go visit her every fall because that time of year in Virginia is beautiful. Then, she’ll come visit me in the spring.”


Michael Soriano, a Ph.D. student from Miami studying English, is looking forward to having a few additional days off. He has big plans on the horizon, including getting married and preparing to move into a new home with his fiancée. 

Michael Soriano“I need to load up a truck and start taking our stuff over to the new place this weekend,” Soriano said. “We also are planning for our wedding in November, which is coming up pretty soon.”


Alex Douma, a senior from Michigan studying neuroscience, is looking forward to returning home to visit family and to indulging in traditional midwestern autumnal festivities.

Alex Douma“Back home in the Midwest at this time of year, we like to go to cider mills to pick apples from the orchards, go on haunted hayrides, and visit corn mazes. So, I’m looking forward to taking my girlfriend to do that this weekend,” Douma said.