While most college students look forward to spring break as a time to relax, or vacation on a beach in a warm location, six American International College students have dedicated their Spring Break, March 10-16, to helping others. AIC is partnering with Habitat for Humanity and sending six students to Hattiesburg, Miss, where they will spend five days working on two different homes.

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Erin Underwood, director of Student Activities at AIC, said the college has worked hard to develop this new program. "Our student body expressed a strong interest in the initiation of such a program, and we have finally reached a point where we can implement this opportunity. As this is in its first year, we are only able to take a select number of students," she said.

The students, Nathan Burrage of Springfield, Corey Newton of Hartford, Marguerite Pratt of Southwick, Tara Scagliarini of Westfield, Rachael Tranter of West Springfield and Brian Wheeler of Medfield, all say they are excited about the trip.

"An experience like Alternative Spring Break will be much more meaningful than going away for spring break with my friends. I have always enjoyed helping people and I feel that this trip will be tremendously rewarding and mind-altering," said Scagliarini.

A junior Liberal Studies major from Westfield, Scagliarini said the students are fundraising to help offset the costs of the trip."Traveling has always been a dream of mine and when I heard about Alternative Spring Break I felt as if my dream was becoming a reality," she said.

Marguerite Pratt, a junior Physical Therapy major from Southwick, is no stranger to community service. The winner of the Student of Character Scholarship two years ago, Pratt has remained active since coming to AIC. "I have always been involved in Community Service and have been looking for another opportunity to help others outside of my community. I am looking forward to meeting others and bringing back community involvement ideas to expand the opportunities at American International College," she said.

Heather Cahill, vice president for Institutional Advancement at AIC, said this is the first time the college has partnered with Habitat for Humanity for the Alternative Spring Break. "Through the use of social media we hope to raise $6,000 to help our students defray the costs, including airfare, transportation, food, and housing," she said.

Cahill said they will be reaching out to AIC alumni for help "It's a way for our alumni to show support, not only for AIC, but for the students and the families they will be helping in Mississippi," she said.

Corey Newton a senior from Hartford, Conn., said the trip is all about helping others. "I decided to take part in Alternative Spring Break simply because of my desire to aid those less fortunate than myself. I believe that all human beings have a moral duty to help others in any way, shape, or form; and I would like to exercise this belief. I have experience with serving my community, and the happiness associated with my actions makes the time spent and the sweat lost all worthwhile," he said.

Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity, Inc., an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1990. Under the direction of a volunteer Board of Directors, Hattiesburg Area Habitat works in partnership with low-income families to build simple, decent, and affordable housing in the Hattiesburg area.