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April 09, 2013

It’s been eight years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast, but remnants of homes that have been washed away remain and the locals still speak of the storm as though it occurred yesterday, according to Framingham State junior Carolyn Holland.

She was among a group of 27 FSU students and three chaperones who spent Spring Break in March performing eco-restoration work along the coast of Mississippi in an area devastated by Katrina and the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill.

The trip was part of Alternative Spring Break (ASB), a program that provides students the opportunity to spend their week off volunteering in communities devastated by natural disasters. ASB has seen a big spike in popularity at Framingham State over the past few years, as more and more students look to take part in what many describe as a life-changing experience.

“A lot of people sign up thinking it will feel good making a difference, but they don’t also realize how much fun it is,” says sophomore Tori Dost, who served as a trip leader along with Holland and senior Molly Goguen. “Everyone forms a bond that is hard to describe. It’s really special.”

The students raised $27,000 to cover the expense of the trip. The group teamed with the non-profit organization Community Collaborations International. Projects included renovating garden areas, and performing work along the ocean to prevent erosion, protect local wildlife and mark the shoreline, which has changed dramatically.

Angel Seto, Framingham State’s Club Coordinator and one of the chaperones on the trip, says the group initially thought most of the work they performed would be related to the more-recent BP oil spill. But it was the remaining devastation from Katrina that stood out, she says.

“It was eye-opening for the students to see the effects of Katrina eight years later,” Seto says. “People forget about it because it happened so long ago and isn’t in the news anymore.”

Goguen, who has gone on three ASB trips, says she is proud of how well the group melded this year. She hopes the trip will inspire all the students to make service work an ongoing part of their lives.

“You can dedicate yourself completely to a cause for a week, but what really matters is what you’re going to do with that experience when you get back to campus,” she says. “My hope is everyone will continue to look for small ways they can help and make a difference every day.”

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,400 students with 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a public university, Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.

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Framingham State University

100 State Street

PO Box 9101

Framingham, MA 01701-9101


Phone: 508-620-1220