Trading the Beach for a Hammer and Nails

Students Embark on Collegiate Challenge

Monday, May 19, 2008

PHILADELPHIA (May 19, 2008)—Eighty Saint Joseph's University students are putting their summer plans on hold and traveling across the country to volunteer their time and efforts for Collegiate Challenge, a summer immersion trip.

A subsidiary of the home-building program Habitat for Humanity, Collegiate Challenge is a week-long alternative break program where students travel to Habitat-sponsored sites to partake in building activities and learn about the area they are serving. This year, students will be volunteering in four locations: Ocala, Fla., Peoria, Ariz., Belgrade, Mont., and Jackson, Wyo. From May 16th to 24th.

This is the fifth year Saint Joseph's has been involved in Collegiate Challenge, and the first year that the number of students participating was capped. Limiting the number of students involved is a testament to the trip's growing popularity: the number of students participating has quadrupled since 2004, said MaryColleen Norcia '08, one of the co-coordinators of Collegiate Challenge 2008.

This year's trip is bittersweet for two participants, however. Norcia and Michael McDonald '08, the other co-coordinator of the trip, have already graduated from Saint Joseph's, and their respective Collegiate Challenge trips will be their last acts as Saint Joseph's students.

"It is a fitting end for my time here," said McDonald. "My first service trip with St. Joe's was with Collegiate Challenge the summer after my freshman year. So to end with a trip, and especially a Collegiate Challenge trip, will be a great way to remind me of times spent at St. Joe's."

Collegiate Challenge was brought to Saint Joseph's in 2003 by John Jeffery, director of Residence Life, who was then the director of Student Leadership and Activities. The program has grown rapidly, culminating in the program winning the Outstanding Student Organization Award at the 2007 Student Leadership and Activities Award Ceremony.

Norcia was passionate about the effect Collegiate Challenge had on her time at Saint Joseph's.

"Collegiate Challenge embodies what it means to be a person for others," Norcia said. "You give up a week or so of your summer to devote yourself to others, strangers mainly, all in the name of Habitat.

"The program represents everything that St. Joe's has meant to me. It epitomizes my four years here. From the service aspect to the connections made within the University and across the country, I've discovered the meaning of 'cura personalis,'" Norcia said.

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Office of University Communications,, 610-660-1222

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