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Meet Mary Healy: A CFA Student Passionate About BU’s Alternative Service Breaks

Boston University’s Community Service Center (CSC) offers an amazing program that takes place over spring break. It’s called Alternative Service Breaks, or ASB for short. The program offers 28 different week-long trips that take place across the country, and are entirely coordinated by students. Each trip is assigned a specific service partner, ranging from animal to elders partners. One person who participated in a trip this year is Mary Healy (CFA ‘20), a B.F.A. acting major. She went on the Louisburg, North Carolina trip, which partnered with Terrell Lane Middle School. I had a conversation with her about her experiences on the trip. Here’s what she said:

How did you find out about ASB?

I found out about it through my friend Jack Moriarity who was handing out flyers on campus, and then I was thinking about what I was going to do for spring break and how I could meet new people, and I thought of that, so I decided to do it.

Where did you go and why did you choose that trip?

I went on ASB Louisburg in North Carolina, and [the service] was working at a low-income middle school. I chose it because I love education, and I absolutely adore working with kids! Something about their energy is so wonderful. When I was looking through the list of the trips, and that was one of the education ones, I was like, yeah, that one.

How was the van ride? How long was it?

The van ride there, to be perfectly honest, I had gotten two hours of sleep the night before, so I slept the entire thing. I was afraid that I had a reputation for being the sleeper in the car, but it was totally fun, and we stopped along the way to a bunch of different places. It was more fun on the way back because we all knew each other and we were singing songs and all that other stuff.

What did you do while you were there?

We were in this small town, so there wasn’t that much to do, but there was an alpaca farm. So we went to this alpaca farm and visited with the people there, and learned about alpacas. It was interesting. It was really fun, though!

Would you say participating in an ASB trip impacted you?

Yeah! I think I feel different coming back to campus because I’m so excited to see the people I went on the trip with, but obviously also coming back to campus knowing that I’m so lucky to be here, especially when [working with] these kids. College is something they don’t hear from their families, and a lot of them don’t even go to high school. They do this early college thing, which is a 5-year high school and college program. That’s the closest they’ll go to college. So really appreciating, ‘wow, I’m at a huge university’, and these kids don’t even think about college.

Were your expectations for the trip similar or different from your actual experience?

I guess different. I really had no idea what to expect because we didn’t have that much information on what we were going to be doing at the school. Once we got there, it was ridiculous. We were treated like royalty! It was so crazy. I don’t know what I expected, but it so surpassed my expectations. I kind of thought it was going to be grungy, like I was just going to do some service and get in there, but we were at this beautiful family’s home, and they welcomed us so willingly into their community. It was awesome!

I’ve heard people say that every BU student should go on an ASB trip at least once in your life. What’s your opinion?

I literally 100% agree! I think that, okay, it sounds cheesy, but I feel like so much more of a BU student because I met people from BU. It was such a wonderful experience between the chaperone and meeting all the people, and I literally have been telling everyone that I know can go on one to go on one because it was amazing. I loved it.

Do you think you met any new people that you wouldn’t have normally met without going on an ASB trip?

Oh yeah. Part of the reason I went is to meet new people because I’m in CFA, and you don’t meet a lot of new people. I totally met so many math and econ, business majors that I never would’ve met otherwise, and I love them. We’re texting about a reunion! I am so happy I went, even just to meet them.

Do you think you would go on another trip next year? Why?

If I could, if it were possible in my schedule, I 100% would, and I would make all my friends do a different trip where they didn’t know anyone, but unfortunately, it’s written into our curriculum that we go abroad junior year. Then senior year, we have showcase during spring break, so I literally can’t, which sucks! I wish I had done it last year now.

What advice would you give to someone going on a trip in the future?

Pick something that you’re passionate about the service, but also something that you don’t know anyone on the trip. I think that was really wonderful- just me being dropped into this wonderful group of people. We all just had to figure each other out, and I really loved that!

After hearing about Mary’s positive experience, I would definitely consider going on an ASB trip. As she says, it’s a great way to meet new people and create a better sense of community within a big school like Boston University. Thanks to her, I now know how much I could learn and grow by going one of the trips, and you could too!


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