NEW COLLEGES FORMED A plan to reorganize the College of Integrated Science and Technology into two colleges took effect July 1, 2012. The new colleges are the College of Health and Behavioral Studies and the College of Integrated Science and Engineering.
Kinesiology Major, Monica Lazur, Serves as Alternative Spring Break Leader
By Amanda Rivera
“You never know where the wind will take you,” is a saying held true by James Madison University junior Monica Lazur. Originally applying to JMU with an interest in Nursing, Monica changed her major to Kinesiology after attending a majors fair her sophomore year. However, following her recent Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip as a leader to York Place Episcopal Church Home for Children in York, South Carolina, Monica is now considering returning to school after graduating to minor in Psychology and Social Work. With prior experience as a participant on an ASB trip the previous year, Monica said that as a leader “I expect everyone that goes on the trip to grow and learn from one another and to realize that you don’t have to go far and spend lots of money to have a great experience during spring break.”
Pulling up to York Place for the first time, Monica described the facility for children and adolescents with social and behavioral problems as “nice and quiet and quaint, just seemed very home-like.” Among their various responsibilities and projects, the group assisted with maintenance in the mornings. Gardening, painting, and window-washing, the ASB students relieved the York Place staff of some major tasks. “Having ten extra people there added to the staff for a week, I think really helped them out,” Monica says.
However, interaction at York Place went beyond the staff, as the group spent time getting to know the children and adolescents that frequent York Place. While these specific youth require special and individualized attention, the students were able to work with the children through various activities, such as tutoring, learning sign-language, making homemade butter and participating in a basketball tournament. The ASB group even helped name some of the stuffed bears that are given to a child or adolescent when they first arrive at York Place.
Monica says that she especially developed some lasting bonds while visiting the facility. “I had three crushes while I was there,” Monica jokes. One of these “crushes,” Monica says, was a seven year-old boy. Growing up without a mother and with his father imprisoned, he was always very timid and quiet. However, Monica says that during ASB’s stay there, an adoption for the seven year-old was arranged. After that, the boy’s demeanor completely changed, to the point that he started approaching Monica and giving her hugs: “It was awesome to see that change.” The relationships built between the group of students and the children at York Place went beyond merely one success story. Monica says, “We definitely had an effect on them and they had an effect on us.”
Returning to JMU, Monica was forever changed by her experience at York Place. “It was just really awesome to be a part of that and be a part of their lives,” she says. Not only planning on furthering her studies in these areas of interest, but also hoping to volunteer at a local group home over the summer, Monica says, “You [get to] work with children and of course you know children, they lighten up your day.” No matter what future career path lies ahead for you, Monica states, “I think you have to go on an ASB trip before you leave JMU. You never know until you try it.”