Blog - Category: Service

Alma College Alternative Fall Breaks Include Local Service Options

Students learn about the impact of genocide, interact with special needs youth, remove invasive shrubs and participate in wildlife rehabilitation during Alma College’s Alternative Fall Break.

Alma College’s mission is to prepare graduates who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully and live responsibly as stewards of the world they bequeath to future generations.  Students of Alma College strive to take this mission statement and transform it into a way of living. One example of these efforts is the nearly 200 students who participate in the Alma College Alternative Break Program.

This program began in 2003 as a single service trip with 20 participants. Students now participate in 10 or more volunteer opportunities throughout the course of the academic year.

Alma College had the third highest percentage of alternative breakers last year according to the Break Away national survey. A total of 193 schools responded to this survey hosted by the national organization supporting the development of alternative break experiences.

Alternative Fall Breaks offer several one- or two-day trips across the State of Michigan. Meanwhile, the holiday and spring service options allow students to serve throughout the nation for an entire week. More information on fall service and upcoming trip options can be found at https://www.alma.edu/academics/experiential-learning/leadership-programs/alternative-breaks.php.

“I went on my first Alternative Break in the spring of 2017. The destination was Mammoth Caves National Park and the experience was wonderful,” says program student co-leader Erin Goggins of Hastings. “Learning about the environment, making new friends and serving others have made this program extremely important to me.”

“Helping others become active citizens in the community is something else that I find especially great about organizing these trips,” says Goggins. “I am thankful that Alma College has provided me with the opportunity to do this.”

Andrews University Wins Acclaim for Prison Bible

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Sometimes, faith leads you off the beaten path.

Such is the case with Andrews University and a group of ministry activists, who have teamed to produce beautiful, leather-bound Bibles designed for prisoners.

Known as the prison ministries of the Andrews Study Bible, the book is designed to be a keepsake for inmates and spread the good news, while accommodating their special needs.

It’s cheaper than traditional, high-quality Bibles — $20 compared to $100 — but still impressive enough to become treasured behind bars. Bonded with leather and immaculately produced, the Bibles are themselves are a work of art.

“We believe these Bibles tell the inmate they have value, which matters a lot, as they are mostly shunned by society and forgotten by their families,” Judy Mackie, who runs a nonprofit, Binding Broken Hearts, told the Adventist Review.

“We get letter after letter expressing their joy and thankfulness that someone cares.”

The partnership began after officials at Andrews University Press — the publishing arm of Andrews University — began noticing Mackie buying their regular, highly acclaimed Bibles in bulk at retail prices, $70-$99 apiece.

After Andrews officials reached out to her, the idea took root for a less-expensive but still comprehensive edition of the Andrews Study Bible, which debuted in 2010 and has quickly become one of the most coveted editions of the good book.

An initial printing of 5,000 copies of the prison volume in 2014 sold out quickly. Ditto for last year’s run of 5,000. And ditto again for the 2016 pressing.

“If you could just see the faces of some of the inmates who have received the Andrews Study Bibles, your heart would melt,” said Dan Preas, a prison ministry leader in Washington.

Doing good work is a mission for Andrews University, the flagship school of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Like the Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities, the schools stress community over conformity.

Class sizes are small, allowing students to work closely with professors committed to helping them forge their own path.

It’s an experience that simply isn’t available at traditional universities. And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates than four-year institutions.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Madonna University Reaches Out to Help Haiti

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The world was horrified when a powerful earthquake rocked Haiti in 2010. Within days, 220,000 were dead and $13.5 billion in charitable donations rolled into the tiny, chronically poor island nation.

And then, after a few months, the news shifted, sympathies waned and donations slowed. Haiti returned to “normal”: Devastating poverty, corruption and illness.

While others left, Madonna University put down roots.

The Michigan-based university is marking the fourth year of its Haiti Education Leadership Program (HELP), an online business administration program that teaches English-speaking Haitians.

“It sounds cliché, but you help one person at a time,” said Donald Conrad, a business professor who helped found the program.

The three-year program graduates about 25 students per year and is believed to be one of the only programs of its kind in Haiti. The program trains students on business practices with the goal of expanding the tiny middle class in Haiti.

“We want those in the middle to have the chance to create successful businesses and have good careers working for the government or organizations in Haiti,” said Sister Rose Marie Kujawa, who created the program and retired as Madonna University’s president this year.

Organizers are in Haiti for the long haul. They hope to expand the program to include new studies such as hospitality management.

The benevolence is typical of Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities. Because helping students follow the right path and fulfill their passion is what they do.

All emphasize community over crowds and a spirit of togetherness and cohesion that just doesn’t exist at big state schools. With low class sizes and award-winning faculty, the schools are proud that students forge lifelong bonds with professors.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.