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Pursuing Active Citizenship

Mizzou Alternative Breaks experience shifts student's career goals

Published March 24, 2016
Story by Christine Jackson
Photos courtesy of Megan Anderson

mizzou students act out a story book in front of pupils

Mizzou senior Megan Anderson, second from left, traveled to Nicaragua as part of a Mizzou Alternative Breaks partnership with Outreach360. The group assisted in teaching English to local students. Above, the group acts out an interactive story book to teach times of day.

Megan Anderson didn’t come to Mizzou with her sights set on public service or social justice issues. The Liberty, Missouri, native knew she was good at science and thought medicine might be a good fit, so she began pursuing chemistry and biology degrees. Now a senior, Anderson’s career goals have developed into something more through her work with Mizzou Alternative Breaks.

a group of mizzou students poses outside of a building

A residence hall peer adviser convinced Megan Anderson, third from right, to apply for a Mizzou Alternative Break her freshman year. Her group, above, traveled to Columbia, South Carolina, to assist in creating health pamplets and translation tools for individuals who speak Spanish as their primary language.

mizzou students pose with preschool children in a hallway

During her sophomore year, Anderson, front row on the left, was a site leader for a trip to the YMCA in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Her group planned and hosted a spring break camp for preschoolers whose parent(s) were deployed.

mizzou students pose with children outside of a Navajo reservation

Bluff, Utah, is a regular destination for Mizzou Alternative Breaks participants. Students serve at Bluff Elementary School, which is located outside of a Navajo reservation.

Anderson’s peer adviser, who lives within the residence hall and helps develop a cohesive learning community there, convinced her to apply for a trip as a freshman. She was selected and was placed on a Spanish service trip in Columbia, South Carolina. She and a team of fellow students created translated brochures and cards for people whose first language is Spanish. The resources explained how to get a doctor’s appointment, how to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit and what rights drivers who get pulled over have, among other things.

The trip exposed Anderson to communities and individuals she might not have come in contact with before, and the experience has helped shape her time at Mizzou.

“The service was amazing,” Anderson says. “I met people in my first MAB trip from parts of campus that I was not as involved in or knowledgeable about, and I got to learn about their experiences. I would not feel as connected to this campus if it was not for them and I would not be as involved if it wasn't for them.”

Working with the organization helped launch Anderson into the world of service. She is now on the Mizzou Alternative Breaks board of directors and serves as a diversity peer educator through the Multicultural Center.

“Without MAB I would have never thought about being a diversity peer educator and learned more about social justice,” she says. “I pursued exec to be more involved and give more to an organization that I owe so much to. I had a desire to improve upon and dedicate more time to this organization that I feel can be so influential on this campus.”

For Anderson, Mizzou Alternative Breaks is more than a trip over a school break. It’s a mindset that works its way into all facets of students’ lives.

“This is not just a week of service or learning about the organization that you are serving with. Yes, that is very important, but that is not the only reason why MAB is so important. MAB creates individuals that are active citizens.”

Being an active citizen is what Anderson hopes to embody moving forward. Instead of pursuing a career for herself, she’s looking outward toward the people she can positively affect. Anderson wants to go into either education or medicine and become a mentor for whatever community she finds herself in.

“MAB has not only changed my perspective of what my job can be someday,” she says. “It has also changed how I hope to contribute to society.”

Published by the Division of Student Affairs, 211 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211 | Phone: 573-882-6776 | Fax: 573-882-0158 | E-mail:

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Last updated: Aug. 15, 2017