Skip to main content
Skip to navigation
University of Missouri

Volunteering Is a Tiger Tradition

Alumni share their student volunteer memories.

Mizzou students practice construction skills during a 1995 spring break trip led by the Newman Center to Westmoreland County, Virginia, to work with the local housing coalition. Photo by Nancy O'Connor.

Mizzou students practice construction skills during a 1995 spring break trip led by the Newman Center to Westmoreland County, Virginia, to work with the local housing coalition. Photo by Nancy O’Connor.

The volunteer ethic is strong at Mizzou. This academic year, Mizzou Alternative Breaks sent more students — 1,468 — on more service trips than any other U.S. school. “Breaking Good” tells the story of a group that traveled to Nashville, Tennessee. To understand the lasting impact of student volunteerism, MIZZOU asked alumni to reflect on the lessons they learned from working for the greater good.

Marcia Chatelain, BA, BJ ’01
Washington, D.C.
Assistant professor of history at Georgetown University

To develop the ability to walk with someone on a different journey was transformative for me. It takes you out of your day-to-day routine and builds compassion. It makes you aware of what the barriers to enjoying life to the fullest are for people who aren’t treated equally.

Tom Ray, BA ’91, JD ’94
Ballwin, Missouri
First vice president at CBRE

We helped students develop their [legislative] ideas and craft them into bill form. After my freshman year, seeing how successful the kids were with their bills, seeing them go the entire progression from idea to passed bill and seeing their enthusiasm for coming back next year clinched it for me to come back, too. At CBRE, a commercial real estate firm, I get to work with younger brokers. I don’t consciously follow the same template, but I help them hone their [career aspirations] and show them the steps involved to bring them into reality. I do the same thing with my kids, but that’s a different story.

Jill Bremer, BS ’97
Boulder, Colorado
Grant proposal supervisor in the Office of Research Administration in the Colorado School of Mines

I met this wonderful person named Irene. I got her groceries, took her to the bank, to Wal-Mart. Whatever she needed. She was lovely — so warm and personable. I hold her dear to my heart, still. Volunteering creates those human connections that are so important. I still volunteer, but as family and other responsibilities add up, it looks different: It’s making food for teachers so they can do parent-teacher conferences. It’s doing what you can with the time that you have.

Gwen Marberry Van Asselt, BA ’97
Kansas City, Missouri
Adjunct instructor of education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City

We went to Helena, Arkansas, [over spring break] to help Teach for America teachers there. We cleaned the community center and volunteered in the classroom doing tutoring. [It] solidified that my avenue of being part of social change was by being a good teacher.