NEWARK, Ohio, April 6, 2016 — Students from Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) and The Ohio State University at Newark went south for spring break, but it wasn’t to work on their tans. They spent the week off from classes working on houses through Habitat for Humanity’s alternative spring break program, Collegiate Challenge.
According to Habitat for Humanity, nearly 7,500 college and high school students volunteered in 182 communities across the U.S. Fourteen of them represented the cost-shared campus
of COTC and Ohio State Newark. Students made the trip with three staff chaperones to DeKalb County, Georgia, where they assisted the local Habitat affiliate in making repairs to the residence of a family of refugees from Africa’s Ivory Coast.
Students and staff dug a trench for a crew to install drainage as well as installed siding and soffit. For some it was a chance to expand on skills learned at home, while others were learning to use power tools for the first time. Nevertheless, it was a chance for students to do something meaningful with their downtime from school.
“I wasn’t going to be the student who did nothing over spring break,” said Melissa Tobin, an Ohio State Newark junior psychology major. “I’ve done that. I was much happier doing
something – especially in construction.” Tobin was initially drawn to the Habitat trip because of her familiarity with home repairs; she assists her father and uncle regularly.
This is the second time Collin Brown, the only COTC student on the trip, has volunteered with Habitat. This experience was different, he said, because the homes in Georgia are renovated rather than constructed like they are in Ohio. Brown and Justin Khol, coordinator for student involvement at COTC and Ohio State Newark, spent the week building supports around the roof of the home.
It wasn’t all work and no play. Students went to nearby Atlanta to visit the Georgia Aquarium and watch an Atlanta Hawks NBA game, and some took to the great outdoors for a show from Mother Nature.
“We hiked Stone Mountain, a giant park with a rock hill as high as the eye could see,” said Collin. “From the top there is a 60-mile range of visibility where we could see all the surrounding towns, including Atlanta. We happened to be there at sunset. It felt like the top of the world.”
In preparation for the trip, students raised money selling Buckeye candy, t-shirts and raffle tickets for the Ohio State Newark dean’s campus parking spot. Fundraising itself was a
learning experience, said Brown.
“I would definitely do it all again,” said Brown. “For what we got out of it, this was really cheap. This trip was one of my all-time favorites.” Tobin agreed, saying the Habitat trip was the “best spring break.”
Central Ohio Technical College and The Ohio State University at Newark have forged an outstanding array of educational opportunities for the central Ohio region and beyond. This partnership is viewed as a model for higher education in the state of Ohio. At COTC, students gain hands-on, applicable experience to begin working in the field or to transfer those credits toward a bachelor's degree program. Ohio State Newark offers the best of the Big Ten educational experience, access to Ohio State’s 200 majors, a rich research heritage and academic excellence.
Top: Students from COTC and Ohio State Newark volunteered with the DeKalb County Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Georgia over spring break.
Left: Collin Brown and Melissa Tobin prepare a piece of wood for the exterior of a house.
Right: A group of students share their Buckeye pride while the sun sets on Stone Mountain Park.