As we send this year’s group of Alternative Spring Breakers off on their service learning trips, we thought we’d take the time to spotlight one of the wonderful people who donated to ASB. Kirsten Brinlee, program manager for the Baltimore Collegetown Network and friend of UMBC, tells us about how she decided to give, and why the cause is so close to her heart.
What is your relationship to UMBC, and how did you become involved with us?
When I first moved to Maryland in 2012, I was working for Johns Hopkins University in service-learning, and one of my job responsibilities was to serve on the Service-Learning and Civic Engagement conference. In 2013, UMBC served as the host institution. I would attend planning meetings and many of my first colleagues and friends were from the staff at UMBC. In 2014, I made the transition to my current role as Program Manager at Baltimore Collegetown Network, where I collaborate with 14 institutions, including UMBC.
Can you share a favorite memory from your time here?
Being a member of the 2013 Service-Learning and Civic Engagement conference is one of my top memories at UMBC. I remember being so impressed by the passion and values-focused keynote address given by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski.
What made you decide to give to Alternative Spring Break, specifically?
My first exposure to Alternative Spring Break was when I worked at the University of North Texas’ Center for Leadership and Service. I had never experienced ASBs at my undergraduate institution, but in my work at UNT, our office managed all of the ASBs for the university. I went on my first ASB to St. Louis and we worked with youth. It was one of my most memorable experiences from UNT. When I moved to Baltimore, I was attracted to my position at JHU because it included ASB management. What I loved about JHU’s program was that they were all locally focused. It helped me learn about my community and realize that meaningful service doesn’t have to take place far away from your own community, and in fact it’s more sustainable and impactful to work with your own community.
For this specific ask, one of my Collegetown LeaderShape students reached out to let me know she was participating in an ASB program at UMBC. Collegetown LeaderShape asks students to identify their passions, create a vision, and impact their communities. An ASB is a direct way for students to get involved in service and their community and I want to support those initiatives.
How do you hope your support will impact students?
I hope that my support demonstrates how I continue to live my own values around service and meaningfully engaging with the community.
Why do you think it’s important to give back?
It’s important to give back because it was other people’s generosity and kindness that created opportunities for me. I want to be able to pay forward the experiences I’ve been able to have for another generation.