Tom Trenkamp
Tom Trenkamp

Alternative Breaker

Hometown: Warren, Mich.

Meet Tom, who has spent his spring break volunteering with the Association House in Chicago. Tom has spent two years as a member of the Alternative Breaks program, which sends CMU students to volunteer across the nation and internationally for social justice issues.

Tom, an elementary education major, has been inspired by his time as an Alternative Breaks volunteer and hopes to instill that inspiration in his future students. “It’s all about growing as a person. It’s about taking part in advocating for a better world.”

Always a new experience. “I acquire something new every time I go on a break. There’s such an incredible power in the human spirit.”

Coming home with a new sense of self. “It’s made me a more whole person. It’s made me a better community member. I know it will make me a better teacher.”

Opportunities to enrich our world. “The experiences we get are not only meaningful for us, but it gives us the opportunity to impact someone else’s life. What can be more meaningful than that?”


CMU students give back to the world

Highlights of CMU’s Alternative Breaks program include:

  • Break Away, the national nonprofit organization that supports the development of Alternative Breaks programs, ranked CMU’s Alternative Breaks program fifth in the nation for most trips coordinated by a school
  • Break Away also ranked CMU’s Alternative Breaks program fourth in the nation for the number of students participating in the trips
  • CMU’s Alternative Breaks program organizes approximately 40 trips throughout the academic calendar with more than 400 students volunteering
  • Students volunteer for social justice issues including animal endangerment, natural disaster relief, suicide prevention, and hunger and homelessness.

Learn more about CMU's Alternative Breaks program!