A Blessing in Disguise
Priya spent last her last spring break working at an animal
shelter in New Orleans as part of Texas A&M's Alternative
Spring Break project.
With spring break being less than three weeks away, I find myself
remembering my spring break last year and how that one week
completely changed my college career for the better.
Last year, I was blessed with the opportunity to go
to New Orleans for the entire week and volunteer at an animal
shelter through Alternative Spring Break (ASB).
ASB is a service-based organization in and out of
the BCS community that primarily aims to provide students with a
meaningful spring break experience through selfless service. Every
year, a group of about 45 students choose between four projects
across the country through which they can make the most out of
their week away from school and classes.
Originally, I was signed up and ready to go to
Oklahoma to volunteer at a Native American Reservation. When that
trip was cancelled, I was, instead, placed on the New Orleans trip,
which looking back was a blessing in disguise.
I remember sitting in the van en route to New
Orleans and being nervous about how my spring break was going to
turn out. I didn’t know anyone on my trip because I was added to it
at the last minute and I didn’t know what to expect from the
But New Orleans changed my life. From eating
beignets every morning, to playing with the sweetest dogs and cats
every day and bonding with my group every night, I can definitely
say I made some of my favorite college memories on that trip.
The shelter we volunteered at was heavily
understaffed and there were way too many dogs and cats for all of
the employees to shower with affection, so we were able to do what
they couldn’t. After being in their cages all day, the larger dogs,
especially, had a ton of energy and got so excited about the
smallest things, even just playing with us for 10 minutes.
We left with a bunch of scratches and bruises, but
it was definitely worth it to give the animals the loving attention
Additionally, were able to help the staff, too, by
cleaning cages, changing food bowls, doing laundry, giving some of
the smaller dogs haircuts and baths, and organizing the very
unorganized linen cabinet.
The pre-veterinary students even got the
opportunity to shadow the on-site veterinarian when he was spaying
and neutering the dogs that were new to the shelter.
After volunteering from only 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., my group and I were
free to explore the city! Some of the things we did included
holding baby alligators, taking Instagram-worthy pictures at the
Botanical Gardens, shopping around the French Quarter and Magazine
Street, going on a haunted city tour, and ending the experience by
watching the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Priya, with the new friends she made during her ASB
When the week was over and we were back in College
Station, I knew that I wanted to go on another volunteer spring
break trip again.
I loved that I was able to positively impact so
many people and animals through a fun volunteer experience.
So, this year, ASB is taking me to Memphis to
volunteer at a food bank in an underserved area! I can’t wait to
see how Memphis will change my life like New Orleans did!
A piece of advice that I always give to prospective
college students is to never be afraid to step outside of your
I stepped outside of mine by going to a city I had
never been to with people I had never met; I left with an
incomparable experience, a group of people whom I now consider some
of my best friends, and a new passion for selfless service.