Colorado State University - Pueblo students to engage in alternative spring breaks

Colorado State University - Pueblo students to engage in alternative spring breaks

PUEBLO – The junior class of the President’s Leadership Program at Colorado State University-Pueblo has organized an alternative spring break program that will take students to New Orleans and Pine Ridge, S.D. to engage in a service-based experience rather than a traditional college party atmosphere.

The PLP students are working with a chapter of a nonprofit organization known as Break Away. (, which helps colleges and universities establish alternative spring break programs. Break Away seeks to develop lifelong, active citizens through service trips that focus on modern societal issues. In 2010, approximately 72,000 students participated in an alternative spring break program in the United States. A 2001 study conducted by Dr. Pushkala Raman of Florida State University showed that participants of alternative breaks “show stronger intentions of voting after participation and are inclined to increase the amount of time they dedicate to serving the community.”

This spring, 25 students and four sponsors from Pueblo will participate in two trips --

Pine Ridge, S.D, March 24-30, and New Orleans, La., March 24-31. The PLP students hope to integrate the alternative spring break program into the Student Activities Office in order to sustain it.

In Pine Ridge, students will address the issue of extreme poverty on the Indian Reservation by building outhouses, putting on skirting for trailer homes, fixing roofs, and other hands-on service activities along with local non-profit organization Re-Member. While there, students will learn first hand about the Oglala Lakota Nation and its culture.

The students will be exposed to a variety of societal issues on the reservation, where the unemployment rate is more than 80 percent and the per capita income just $4,000 annually. Life expectancy on the reservation is the lowest in the United States and second lowest to Haiti in the Western Hemisphere. The alcoholism rate is as high as 80 percent, with one in four infants born with fetal alcohol syndrome or effects. The suicide rate is more than twice the national average with  a teen suicide rate four times the national average.

In New Orleans, students will work in association with Phoenix of New Orleans,, to rebuild Lower Mid-City homes damaged by Hurricane. The organization already has rebuilt more than 200 homes thus far. Beyond their volunteer work, students will have the opportunity to experience the culture of New Orleans.

The following students will participate in the alternative break program this month:

Pine Ridge, South Dakota


Daisy Mendoza, senior, Spanish


Edwin Watson, senior, Spanish


Gabrielle Allard, sophomore, social work

Stephanie Jones, senior, accounting


Bryaunna Rice, freshman, mass communications


Joni James, senior, mass communications


Christine Gazette, junior, mass communications

Jessica Thurman, senior, social work

J.M. Tucker Lawton, Grad Student (Education, English)

Jonathan Robertson, freshman, undeclared

Shawna Sheppard, sophomore, nursing

Sheena Twitchell, senior, Spanish

Sean Mcgivney, Director, Student Financial Services, Chaperone

Dr. Jeff Stuyt, Assoc. Professor, Exercise Science and Health Promotion, Chaperone

New Orleans, LA


Graham Harper, freshman, engineering


Brittney Harris, junior, sociology


Samantha Gordon, senior, English


Alayna Abeyta, senior, psychology

Arthur Grinstead, junior, biology

Brittani Trevithick, freshman, biology

Catherine Randall, freshman, biology

Moriah Fillmore, freshman, math

Nicole Abney, senior, sociology

Tina Wilson, junior, biology


Brad Reeves, junior, biology

Stephen Prewitt, sophomore, mass communications


Stephen Gengo, junior, EXHPR

Dennis Trujillo, Chaperone

Steven Trujillo, MBA, Chaperone