Rollins’ student demand for alternative spring break experiences continues to grow, and the Rollins Immersion: Citizens take Action program plans to deliver. In its seventh year, the immersion program has had a steady increase in participation, creating the need to modify the model to meet the growing demand.
Since 2007, the number of students choosing an alternative break has grown from 12 to 250, and the number of programs in an academic year has grown from 1 to 20. Grant funding creates the opportunity for Rollins students to engage in weekend experiences at no cost. Spring break experiences range from $250-$350 with students traveling to places like Nepal, Rwanda, the Bahamas, and Louisiana.
The combination of an active presence on campus, social media, and word of mouth has helped to create awareness among both students and faculty, said Graduate Assistant Raul Carril ’15 ’16MBA. “We are interacting with the Rollins community, trying to engage the entire campus while building our brand and identity.”
Now, more than ever before, faculty and staff members are working with the Immersion team to create experiences that enrich the in-class curriculum. The program is also seeing “repeat breakers” wanting to become program facilitators in order to lead a team focused on a personal passions or social issues. This real world learning experience has created another way for students to connect with each other and the campus.
“Students who are thinking about transferring, or who are not finding a place at Rollins, and have been encouraged to go on an Immersion experience, end up connecting and staying,” said Melissa Looby ’15, who is one of Rollins current student coordinators and a past Immersion participant.
The process surrounding program initiatives is driven by a facilitator team, which consists of two students and a faculty member or administrator. The team creates an experience that connects passion with social issues. This year’s past alternative spring break HeARTs in Motion: Art Therapy in Early Education was created out of passion for art, children, and music. Being flexible, open to trial and error, and not afraid to make mistakes are just a few of the unique characteristics and appeal of the program for repeat breakers.
“It’s just a big, messy learning process that we end up falling in love with,” said Looby.
As students share their enthusiasm for the collaborative process and applications increase, the Immersion team is dedicated to answering the demand with more opportunities locally, nationally, and internationally.
Carril said, “The Immersion experience is an experience that you take with you when you leave college. It provides memories, feelings and emotions that will shape and impact you and last forever.”