By: Amanda Sedlmayer
All it took was that one decision. That one thought that “I am going to try this”. Since then, a world of opportunities has opened up for me. I have met hundreds of people on campus, have networked and connected with these individuals and have found out so much more about myself, my abilities, strengths and even weaknesses. All it took was that one decision to apply for an Alternative Break because I had that one little thought that “I am going to try this.”
It was last November that I considered going on an Alternative Spring Break. I had heard it was an amazing organization where you get to volunteer outside of New Jersey and make an impact in a community. Since volunteering was something I had very little experience in, I thought “why not try this”. I had made it through the application and interview process and after expressing interest in educational causes I was accepted in early December for an Alternative Spring Break to Baltimore with Teach for America. I was not familiar with the area of Baltimore or the organization Teach for America and we were clueless on what exactly we were doing until the itinerary arrived two weeks before our departure. Alternative Breaks changed my college career from that point on.
The week-long trip introduced me to what it was I wanted to do for the rest of my life and so many more opportunities. Growing up I had always wanted to be a teacher but put it on the back burner in order to consider a lucrative future in business. At Rutgers, I struggled with the prerequisite business courses, barely enjoyed them and knew I was only thinking of the money as happiness. On the Alternative Break trip, Luis Fernandez shared with me his major in Planning and Public Policy with the Edward J. Bloustein School. I had never heard of it but it sounded like it was aligned with more of my interests in social change and evaluating political areas. As soon as I came back from my trip, I looked into the major and changed it.
The trip was also an eye opening experience as to how one person can really make a difference to a group of children. The classroom I was in was with a Teach for America corporate member who had already finished his 2 year commitment and was staying in the school because of how driven he was to improve the children’s education. After volunteering, I knew I wanted to stay with Teach for America, following their mission and goals. I was told about an opportunity as a Campus Campaign Coordinator, applied and was accepted in late May.
Not only did I change my major and get an internship from my Alternative Break buy I also became very close to Matthew Ferguson, the Director of Leadership and Training at Rutgers who offered me another internship opportunity to work on projects at Rutgers related to leadership. I couldn’t leave Alternative Breaks either. I knew it had left a mark on my life and in April I applied to be on the Executive Board and won the Treasurer position. This year, I have taken on these 2 internship opportunities, the executive member position, and a new major and I put every little bit of myself into all of these endeavors. It has sincerely been life changing.
College is apparently the best four years of your life. But it takes a little effort to make them the best. Get involved, do something your passionate about, and find out more about who you are. Go out there and try something because I promise you, you will not regret it.
Amanda Sedlmayer is a junior at Rutgers University studying Planning and Public Policy with a minor in Education. She is the Treasurer for Alternative Breaks, is a Resident Assistant in the Ernest Lynton Towers on Livingston and is a Campus Campaign Coordinator for Teach for America. Amanda has been involved in several organizations on campus and loves taking advantage of the opportunities on campus!