Connecting your CIO to your Future: Alternative Spring Break

Kaitlyn Diaz – February 21st, 2018

Check out this week’s spotlight on Alternative Spring Break (ASB) featuring the President of ASB, Gillean Kelly, who is a fourth year majoring in Biology. ASB is a completely student-run service organization that sends UVA students on service trips during spring break. The trips are both domestic and international, and there is a wide range of service activities available. ASB service trips combine self-reflection, service learning, and group dialogue to stimulate an enriching and meaningful experience for every participant. Read on to learn Gillean’s journey with ASB.

What is the benefit of joining ASB?

By joining ASB, you have the unique opportunity to meet other UVA students who share similar values of service learning and self-reflection. Signing up to participate in an ASB service project is not only a simple one-week commitment, but it has grown into a year-round experience that emphasizes self-awareness through educational and cultural programs. These programs place before, during, and after the service projects for the purpose of encouraging a more meaningful trip experience. Through ASB, you are not only able to have a wonderful spring break, but you are also able to immerse yourself in a new community through conversation and partnership with UVA peers. Upon returning from a trip, we hope students are able to implement aspects of service learning into the Charlottesville and University communities. 

What is your current role and overall experience of being involved in ASB? How have you achieved, or hope to attain personal development?

I first joined ASB my first year, when I was a participant on an environmental conservation trip to Death Valley National Park. Since my first year, I have led a service trip to Zion National Park, and I have held three positions on the Executive Board. I am the current president of ASB, and I work with other Executive Board members on a weekly basis to ensure both trip preparation and administrative tasks go smoothly. My experiences with ASB have allowed me to grow as a leader in many different environments. Working with such a strong group of peers has helped me develop strong critical thinking skills. I believe my leadership experiences with ASB have equipped me to make strategic decisions that align with the mission of this service organization. 

What are some transferrable skills gained from being a member of ASB that can be mentioned in a resume or interview?  

As a team member, ASB participants gain a level of accountability, taking on responsibility during their service projects. Nightly reflections emphasize self-awareness, as participants engage in dialogue with peers about service learning. Site leaders are expected to think critically, ensuring that their decisions and actions align with ASB’s mission. Participants are able to cultivate their ambitions as service leaders at the University and make positive, meaningful change at sites across the country and around the world. 

How does ASB help undergraduate students explore their options, in terms of career track, or explore something about themselves (i.e. strengths, weaknesses, limitations)?

Many ASB participants find that the service on their trip aligns strongly with their interests or desired career track. In some cases, students are moved by their service to create a new organization on Grounds or to become involved in similar opportunities in Charlottesville. Even if you do not know what you want to do, your service project will introduce you to community engagement at some capacity. Through reflections, many participants learn about themselves through conversation with other students, pushing themselves to reflect on their own strengths and interests. 

What advice/information would you give to UVA students interested in exploring ASB? What is the time commitment?

If you are interested in ASB, it is not too late to fill out our late application! Typically, the application opens in mid-October, and participants are matched to a trip in mid-November. However, we do have a waitlist, and filling out the late application will add you to our waitlist. Waitlists do tend to have quite a bit of movement as people drop from trips, so if you are still interested, I would encourage you to fill out a late application, found on our website,

In terms of time commitment, you will be traveling over your spring break with your group of 8-10 UVA students. You will meet with your group a few times throughout the year to get to know each other. ASB offers a couple days of optional service throughout the year, which participants and site leaders are welcome to join. We also have service days in Charlottesville over Fall Break.

Contact Gillean Kelly ( or the Outreach team at with any questions.