Emily Geis

University of Oregon
Emily Geis
Volunteer Coordinator

To build strong partnerships across the campus and in the community, Emily increased civic engagement and volunteerism among students, faculty, and staff at the University of Oregon (U of O). One project Emily focused on was connecting and exposing students to local and national issues of poverty through Alternative Break trips.

To support the U of O's Alternative Break program, Emily recruited and trained volunteers. Throughout the year, 159 student participants, leaders, and Faculty Educational Leaders served 4,915 hours by participating in 11 Alternative Break trips.

These trips helped deepen students' understanding of poverty. By exploring local and national challenges and introducing participants to ways to engage with the community, students gained the motivation and skills necessary to make a difference. After participating, many shared that their experience was transformational, "My service-learning experience in Los Angeles, California was eye-opening. Not only do I feel like I better understand the homeless youth community, but I feel like I better understand myself." -Alternative Spring Break trip participant

As a result of the VISTA program at the U of O, the university has increased its capacity to support volunteerism through Alternative Breaks. To sustain this effort, Emily built an extensive staff manual to pass on the knowledge gained and the campus recently hired a full-time Assistant Director of Experiential Learning to coordinate and sustain the Alternative Break program.

Deanna Belcher, Director of Service-Learning at the University of Oregon said, “Emily has been an unbelievable asset to The Holden Center and our Alternative Break program this year...She made a huge difference in just one all-too-short year. Her impact will be felt for years to come by our students, community partners, and her colleagues.” - Deanna Belcher, Director of Service-Learning at the University of Oregon