- by Karlee Robb -

Karlee Robb with the Partners for Serving team

Karlee Robb ’25 is a legal studies major who works for Nazareth’s Partners for Serving program and Alternative Breaks program. She is also part of the Politics and Law Club and Club Volleyball team. She reflected on her summer internship with the Alt Break program, which included a week-long conference in Atlanta.

Where was your internship this summer?
My internship was remote with Nazareth Alternative Breaks. I worked closely with our program manager Jen Canning on updating the training models for student leaders and implementing new activities for trip participant meetings. My research was focused on the areas of reorientation, community impact, and funding in order to keep the program accessible to all students and build solidarity with both the Rochester community and other local and global community partners. I also had the opportunity to attend the Breakaway Actively Building Community Solidarity conference in Atlanta, Georgia, at Emory University for a week. I collaborated with students, advisors, and community partners from Alternative Breaks programs and non-profit organizations around the country.

How have you benefited from this experience?
I personally benefited from this experience by learning everything it takes behind the scenes to make this organization work. There are so many moving parts to every program and I was able to form a greater appreciation for the work my partners and program manager do. This is the first internship of its kind offered by the Alternative Breaks program. I believe the program has benefited from the research I learned about at the conference, as well as from my personal experiences with multiple trip locations and themes. I was able to bounce creative ideas off of people who understood the challenges we face, to improve our program as well as theirs.

How did this internship prepare you for your life’s work?
This internship helped me build connections with other student leaders at Nazareth, as well as student leaders from other colleges such as the University of Connecticut, Michigan State, Utah State, and the University of Florida. This networking opportunity was similar to what I will have to do in law school to make study groups, as well as find internships and connect with professors.

There were so many times throughout this internship when I wanted to implement a million new ideas, simply due to how passionate I am for it to succeed, and I had to bring myself down to Earth and realize that change takes time. I think this pacing and realism will also allow me to succeed in my future by taking tasks one step at a time.

Do you have a favorite moment from your experience?
One of my favorite moments from my overall experience would have to be the free time we had at the end of the day during the conference. As many of us were college students or advisors, we took the opportunity to play card games and sing karaoke in the evenings. We played Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza and laughed so hard we cried, and one of the conference organizers, Buck, sang Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” after just a little bit of begging. Despite these moments not necessarily contributing to the direct purpose of my internship, it helped me see the beauty in human relationships and how quickly we can bond in just one week.

The friendships I made in Atlanta at a “mock alt break” are a perfect replica of the friendships I made on a real Alt Break experience that Nazareth led in January. These trips are such a quick way to bond with others and it truly is a refreshing introspective experience.

Another favorite moment I had was when the staff did a graduation for us at the very end of the week, with a photo slideshow of the week and speeches.. This conference was such a meaningful experience that the advisor next to me and I both shed a tear when the staff was reading our anonymous notes of what we felt was the best part of the week. Mine had reflected on the deep conversations we had in our small group time. And the woman next to me knew it was me without my name even being said simply because we had all gotten that close so quickly.

What difference did your Naz SPARK grant make?
Honestly, without the SPARK Grant, I would not have been able to have this experience, and the Alternative Breaks program would have been put on hold for the summer. Dale Leyburn and Jen Canning worked together to create an opportunity for me to work on the program because of how passionate I am about the topic and it gave me a way to use my SPARK before my sophomore summer was over. The SPARK grant covered the conference cost. I was really grateful to have the opportunity, and I am very excited that I was able to update our curriculum so that the program can thrive after being in a deficit following the travel bans that came with the pandemic.

What impact would you like to have on the world, or your slice of it?
By participating in Alternative Breaks, Partners for Serving, and Days of Service, I can have an impact by working firsthand with people to meet their community’s needs together. My qualifications right now limit me to helping by physically putting a warm meal on the table, building a drainage structure, or sharing a petition via social media. However, in my future, I hope to advocate for legal representation for individuals of all backgrounds as well as justice in the eyes of the law. I look forward to representing the voice of individuals who feel unheard, as well as educating those around me on the hard topics most people do not come face-to-face with daily.

Anything else that would be good to know about your internship experiences?
The staff at the conference — Meg, Zidane, Buck, Rachel, Nico, Vivian, Miranda, and Shaun — were the most wonderful, welcoming, and open-minded people I have ever met. They were the perfect combination of serious, goofy, and educated, to put on a conference that kept us engaged and passionate. The people you meet when connected with Alternative Breaks will change your life, on campus and beyond. Putting in the work has been super rewarding, and I cannot wait to see what other participants think when the changes are implemented this coming year.