• Blazer on Break

    Students interested in exploring social issues through first-hand service and reflection are invited to apply for Blazers on Break, UAB’s alternative spring break program. Hosted during the academic spring break, Blazers on Break is an immersive, week-long experience designed to provide students with an opportunity to engage in direct service. Blazers on Break trips are focused on a Sustainable Development Goal. Students learn the context of the goal through the support of faculty/staff trip facilitators during Blazers on Break Orientation and pre-trip roundtable discussions. This intentional time of learning allows each volunteer to better understand the root cause, challenge themselves to think critically about the goal, and take meaningful action.

    As a result of participating in Blazers on Break, each volunteer will:

    • Examine their beliefs and assumptions concerning the site-specific social issue
    • Communicate in civic context, showing ability to express, listen, and adapt ideas and messages based on others’ perspectives
    • Describe the impact of experience on their growing sense of civic identity and commitment

    Upon return, volunteers will reflect on the experience, synthesizing service, education, and community immersion. Through Blazers on Break, each participant will not only volunteer but also advance on the spectrum of service towards active citizenship.

    What is active citizenship?

    According to Break Away, a national nonprofit organization that promotes the development of quality alternative break programs, “Active citizens are individuals who prioritize the community in their values and life choices. They don’t have to take action on every social issue, but rather, see the world through that lens. They take action on issues that matter to them and their communities.”

    The Active Citizen Continuum
    Member > Volunteer > Conscientious Citizen > Active Citizen
    Not concerned with their role in social problems Well-intentioned but not well-educated about social issues Concerned with discovering root causes; asks why? Community becomes a priority in values and life choices

    Adapted from Break Away’s Active Citizenship Continuum

  • How do I participate?

    How do I participate?

    Currently enrolled, full-time, undergraduate students are eligible to participate. Applications are made available through Engage, and a select group of applicants will be invited to participate in an interview process. By the conclusion of the fall semester, applicants will be notified as to whether or not they have been selected to participate in Blazers on Break.

    How much does it cost?

    How much does it cost?

    Students can participate in Blazers on Break at no cost. Transportation, overnight accommodations, and money for meals is provided by the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership.

    What is the commitment?

    What is the commitment?

    Students selected for participation are required to attend Blazers on Break Orientation and a series of round table discussions relating to the sustainable development goal, active citizenship, and the site of service.

    What if I have class/work during a pre-trip meeting?

    What if I have class/work during a pre-trip meeting?

    Students selected for participation are required to attend all pre-trip meetings. These are identified months in advance to support planning, and they are critical to the holistic development of each volunteer and trip facilitator. If an applicant is unable to attend one or more pre-trip meetings, they will not be selected for participation. We encourage these students to apply again next year if their schedules permit.

    Please direct questions to Lauren Cotant at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Blazers on Break Highlights 2019

    Twenty-six UAB students participated in Blazers on Break in March of 2019. These students traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, and Memphis, Tennessee, accompanied by four staff facilitators and were able to contribute to youth development and community development/revitalization. Students were put into situations outside of their comfort zones, but they adapted and were resilient in keeping focused and learning from their experience. Collectively, 682 hours of service was completed by Blazers on Break participants, resulting in a $16,838.58 economic impact.

    One of last year’s participants shared:

    “For Blazers on Break, I traveled to Memphis, Tennessee with about 15 others for five days. This experience has really changed my perspective completely on service. Before the trip, I had the perspective of helping a community by targeting some of their greatest struggles on paper and partnering with organizations providing aid for that service. After Blazers on Break, I realized a number of things. First, it is super important to step back and ask the community itself what they would actually want from our aid. This step was crucial, as sometimes, all a community needs from others is somebody to talk to. Next, I realized that even though my life might be so different than somebody else's, it is important to acknowledge these differences and strengthen a bond through mutual interests and activities. Although I am in a completely different situation than the people of the community I'm helping out, this does not mean that I have to treat them any different than any of my friends. Third, I realized that service is not about self-gratification. I don't have to instantly feel good about the service that I've done or that I've made a great impact on somebody. No matter how satisfied with myself I feel, it is about the people in the community that I am helping. It is about SERVICE for others. Lastly, I have learned to value the silver linings in dim situations. Even though the aid I am providing might not seem important or the community does not seem like it well be successful, you have to cherish the small, joyful moments that you spend with the community and the details in life that make it livable.”

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  • About Alternative Breaks

    As defined by Break Away (2018), a national nonprofit organization that promotes development of quality alternative break programs, alternative breaks are trips provided by a University which provides opportunities for students to engage in direct service; these trips typically last 5 to 7 days. The trip is focused on a predetermined social issue, and the location of the trip is associated with the issue.

    Student Learning

    The immersion in that issue begins far before the trip itself. Students learn about the location and social issue through organized group discussion prior to departing for the trip. Then, through hands-on experience, the students invest more into the issue and are able to articulate their own thoughts post-service. These trips challenge students to be compassionate while critically reflecting on their citizenship, responsibility, and opportunity to create change (Break Away, 2018).

    Blazers on Break

    UAB currently provides an alternative break experience for students interested in exploring social issues through first-hand service and reflection. These service trips, better known as Blazers on Break, are offered through the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and extended to all UAB students through an application and interview process. Hosted during the academic spring break, Blazers on Break trips present 36 students with an opportunity to engage in a civic immersion experience.

    The Role of the Facilitation Fellow

    This experience, however, would be not possible without the commitment of professional staff and/or faculty, known as Facilitation Fellows, who execute the trips’ logistical and learning components. Facilitators commit their time and efforts to supporting the learning prior-to and during the alternative break experience.

    Facilitation Fellow Learning Outcomes

    By investing in Facilitation Fellows' development, students will experience higher levels of connection to faculty/staff alongside increased learning through guided reflective practices. Furthermore, as a result of participating in the Alternative Break Facilitation Fellowship, Fellows will:

    • Explain how the learning components of education, orientation, and training connect to direct service and how they benefit both the community and the break team
    • Recognize the difference between reflection, group building, and dialogue and understand the importance of each in the student’s experience
    • Demonstrate the vision and goals of Blazers on Break through execution of a non-biased student selection process for break participants