NJIT Students Sacrifice Their Vacations for an Alternative Spring Break

NJIT students shown working during last year's Alternative Spring Break.

NJIT students have a deep commitment to community service. Indeed, they are a national leader in the number of hours that university students devote to community service. And nothing illustrates their civic commitment more than NJIT’s Alternative Spring Break, when hundreds of students sacrifice their vacations to work on community projects. 

This year’s Alternative Spring Break, the fourth annual, is scheduled for March 12 through March 17.  During that week, students will work on projects in four counties: Essex, Hudson, Bergen and Monmouth -- from Newark to the Jersey shore.

NJIT has partnered with more than a dozen nonprofit groups with whom the students will work. They will, for instance, help the groups beautify beaches and parks as well as distribute food and clothing to needy people. They will conduct a survey on water preservation and assist Habitat for Humanity with rebuilding houses.

It’s a big commitment of time -- the students work from morning until evening -- and they’ll certainly get their hands dirty. But in the eyes of NJIT Senior Emma Freeman, the wages that accrue from helping others are their own reward.  Freeman, who majors in business and information systems, has already done two alternative spring breaks: She worked to restore a military museum in Sea Girt, a shore town hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. And she cleaned up a warming station in Newark.  She enjoyed that work, so this year she signed up for three projects: She’ll work on a community garden affiliated with a center for autistic children; she’ll restore a recreation room in a center for abused children; and she’ll be part of a group that visits a senior citizen center.

“The Alternative Spring Break gives back to the community and allows NJIT students to show school pride,” says Freeman. “It’s a great opportunity for students to help communities and, in the end, the work is really rewarding.”

Vivian Lanzot, director of civic engagement for Career Development Services, says NJIT students are highly intelligent and also compassionate and kind-hearted. 

“Our students are giving up their spring breaks to help communities in their state,” says Lanzot. “That is what Highlander spirit is all about and we are very proud of them.”

Students can register online for the Alternative Break, or phone Lanzot at (973) 596-3642. The event is organized by Career Development Services in partnership with NJIT’s Campus Center. 

By Robert Florida