At Carleton, we believe experiences outside the classroom are vital to a student’s development and growth. We believe these experiences instill in students a sense of purpose and of global responsibility, both of which continue to shape their lives long after they graduate.

Over the next six weeks, we’re featuring stories from students and recent grads on the experiences they had at Carleton that forever changed their futures, and the moments they realized that they, along with all of us here at Carleton, are Here for Good.

Relieving Disaster in New York

Victoria McLean
3rd-Year Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management

As a first-year Carleton student, I applied last minute – on a whim, even – to the Alternative Spring Break program to Laguna Seca, Nicaragua.

After seeing and interacting with the people of a small Nicaraguan community, I couldn’t wait to be part of the Alternative Spring Break program again. I knew I wanted to apply as a team leader, which is how I returned to the program as a third-year student for a trip to New York.

One small choice I made as a first year completely changed not just my Carleton experience, but also my life.

During our week in New York, our team focused on rebuilding efforts in an area still affected by Hurricane Sandy. As part of the leadership team, I helped guide our team as we gutted the entire downstairs of a house in Brooklyn that had been submerged in three feet of water during the 2012 disaster, and we learned more about its ravaging affect at the New York Transit Museum.

Learning about Hurricane Sandy’s devastating impact was new to me. We’ve learned about Hurricane Katrina in and out of the classroom since 2006 – but I had almost no idea about the extent of the damage caused by Sandy. The storm was the largest Atlantic hurricane by diameter on record, touting $75 billion in damage and a tragic 233 deaths. In New York, worked alongside the St. Bernard Project, an organization initially launched to help rebuild Louisiana communities after Katrina that has since grown to help rebuild areas affected by destructive floods like New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Texas and more.

Beyond learning about this tragedy, what really stuck with me were the ongoing efforts by people from the St. Bernard Project and local New Yorkers. Hurricane Sandy struck the U.S. Eastern Seaboard nearly five years ago, and media coverage has long since ceased. But the people there are still affected – and others are still helping where they can.

Without a doubt, Alternative Spring Break helped grow and nurture my leadership skills and ability to work within a team. But it also taught me that being a leader means helping others however I can, even when the rest of the world seems to have moved on. It taught me that when we work together, we can accomplish almost anything.

It taught me that being a leader sometimes means making life-changing experiences possible for someone else, like generous donors did for me.

Helping others – whether it’s for disaster relief efforts or otherwise – instills in you a sense of being part of something much bigger than yourself. That’s exactly what Carleton means by being Here for Good.

Here for Good means we’re here to do good and help others, both in Canada and around the world. Your support of student experiences like Alternative Spring Break isn’t about giving a student the chance to travel; it’s investing in the development of their skills, careers and capacity for giving back. It teaches students like me what it means to be a citizen of the world – someone who has a responsibility to help others in need and do whatever I can to make the world a better place.

Be a leader and help a student become Here for Good today.

Student experiences at Carleton aren’t just about doing good for one period of time – they are designed to cultivate the desire and capacity to continue doing good well into the future. These important experiences cannot be possible without the support of donors like you.

When you support experiences for Carleton students, you aren’t contributing to a trip or a project: You are investing in the future of Ottawa, Canada and the world, making it possible for the next generation to do more good. Support the future of our world and join us in being Here for Good today.

Have your own Carleton story to share? Tell us by emailing us at Don’t miss next week’s story as we follow Cody Nicoll on his adventure to Guatemala!