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Meg O'Connell Social Justice Scholars spent their spring break in Puerto Rico on a Service-Learning trip.
Onondaga Community College's Meg O'Connell Social Justice Scholars spent their spring break in Puerto Rico on a Service-Learning trip.

It's not unusual for students to travel to warm climates during spring break. But for 10 Onondaga Community College students who are also Meg O'Connell Social Justice Scholars, their trip to Puerto Rico last month was all about community service. "While we helped others, we learned so much and bonded through the experience. We lived the lifelong learning of a college," said Dr. Annie Tuttle, PTK Advisor and Assistant Dean of Civic Engagement.  

Danielle Lambert, an Early Childhood major, was one of the students who engaged in service-learning in Puerto Rico. "My favorite service activity was tree planting. We planted 486 trees, flagged 2,000 areas for baby trees after measuring spots, and dug 500 extra holes. It was a lot of work but we had a lot of fun. We were knee deep in mud and holding on to each other so we didn't sink in. At the end we were just so filthy and exhausted but it was so rewarding."

Another Meg O'Connell Scholar, Alex Espitia-Casallas, selected a different activity as his most memorable. "My favorite project was spending the day in a rainforest, maintaining the trails. Getting that experience was a gift. Being there, doing that work, was really special. I'll think about that forever."

"We're so appreciative of Meg O'Connell to be able to help us provide this opportunity for the students," said Dr. Tuttle. "She came to all of our meetings this year and was able to create relationships with the students. It was just a really special opportunity to meet such an important community leader who does so much to be able to have that experience."

Dr. Tuttle, Lambert, and Espitia-Casallas joined us for an episode of our podcast, "Chatting About College." All three discussed the trip, along with Lambert and Espitia-Casallas being named SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence winners, also being named Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) All-State students, and the recent statewide and international awards won by OCC's PTK students.

You can listen to "Chatting About College" by clicking on this link. You can also find it at places like iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you download high-quality content.

Danielle Lambert
Danielle Lambert
Alex Espitia-Casallas
Alex Espitia-Casallas
Onondaga Community College
Phi Theta Kappa